Model railway enthusiasts from across western Canada gathered together this past weekend here in Big Valley for the annual Alberta Free-mo, and once again it was an unqualified success.
This year attendees included participants from the Calgary Free-mo, Battle River Railway Modellers, Chilliwack Model Railway Club, Cariboo Free-mo Group, Roberts Creek Model Railway Club, and three independent Free-mo modellers.
Modelers began arriving in our village by Thursday afternoon in order to put together their fabulous displays. Individual group members built their modules together to form the giant, realistically operated layout. After a whole lot of work, these meticulously detailed displays were spread out around the entire agriplex. Though up and running by late Friday afternoon, the Free-mo was not open to the general public until Saturday.
The entire set was built as a continuous, curving and contoured railway line, representing a wide variety of naturalistic scenes. There were individual modules depicting rural farm land with pastures, fields, farm buildings and grazing animals. Small prairie towns, complete with train stations and grain elevators, dotted the landscape as the trains travelled along the tracks. There were cities to pass through, curves to navigate, trestle bridges to cross and tunnels to go through as these small trains continued on their journey. Many of the stops along the way were representative of actual locations found in the Canadian landscape. Wilderness areas included mountains, forests and rivers with wildlife dotting the landscapes. The realism was superb, with working pump jacks, stumps left at logging operations, and tiny animal footprints in the wilderness. Many hours of painstaking work went into the creation of each module. Even those not particularly interested in the trains were enthralled by the realistic, marvelous scenery.
We must thank everyone involved in bringing the Alberta Free-mo to our village. Big Valley is very happy to have been the chosen venue for this exciting event over the years. We thank all the participating clubs and individuals and look forward to seeing all the modellers return with their incredible
creations at next year’s Free-mo.