Depot will feature train sets, gift shop and unique railroad artifacts
By Robyn Wheeler
Monitor Staff Writer
KEMP–Cedar Creek Lake Rotary Club members were treated to a mini-train display by Mabank electric train expert Roger Barker at the June 20 meeting at the Cedar Creek Country Club.
“I became interested in model trains in 1993 and when I put them under the Christmas tree for my grandchildren and the hobby grew from there, Barker said.
“I had to move all the trains out of house in 1999,” he added.
Barker has embarked on a new project in conjunction with the Mabank Economic Development Corporation (EDC) in the creation of the Mabank Depot, which Barker hopes will be open for visitors around Labor Day.
The EDC owns the real estate and Barker will open the building as a toy train orphanage and a tribute to the town’s railroad past.
The depot will be open four days a week and will be home to a large collection of trains and unique railroad artifacts such as a 1903 color schematic of the Westinghouse brake system, a 1936 yellow prewar American Flyer train set and a 1926 railroad lantern.
The Mabank Depot will also carry several trade collector association show ribbons won by Barker, and a gift shop with whistles, train hats and model trains.
“The museum will house about 100 train sets.”
“One wall which is eight feet high and 32 feet long will be fully shelved every five and a half inches,” Barker said.
The new facility will also include an HO layout for train collectors to run their trains.
“Train enthusiasts won’t have to take up space in their house to run their trains,” Barker said.
Barker does not plan on doing any restoration, but he does some repair work at cost.
The Mabank Depot will charge a small fee for visitors but admission is free for children under 12.
Barker said his favorite models are the Burlington Zephyr and a copper mercury set from 1936.
The first train set was made somewhere around 1880 and the oldest set Barker has owned was from 1913.
“I’m 71 and this is another career for me.”
“The depot will be a real nice attraction, and train fans will go out of their way to see it,” Barker said.
The Mabank Depot will also carry maps of old train routes, and two surveys of Mabank, one of which was not used.
“The First State Bank would not be where it is today if they had built the second plan had been used,” Barker said.
The Mabank Depot is located at 222 W. Mason next door to the Dairy Queen.
In other news, Rotarians heard:
• HELP Center executive Director Leslie Sanders was installed as a new member.
• Rotary member and former Cedar Isle Restaurant owner Lou Talbot is the new Cedar Creek Country Club General Manager.
• No meetings will be held Friday, June 27 and July 4.
• the next Celebrity Waiter meeting is at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 2, at Hector’s Restaurant in Gun Barrel City.
Sponsors and auction items are needed.