Free-mo refers to an international standard for model train module construction. (Photo submitted)

Free-mo refers to an international standard for model train module construction. (Photo submitted)

Model railroaders return to Big Valley after two-year absence

After being absent for two years, the Calgry Free-mo model railway group returned to Big Valley for their annual “Fun Run.”

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic throwing the world into disarray, the model railroaders would come to Big Valley from Calgary, Saskatchewan, B.C. and even some American states to show off and merge their work into a single track.

Free-mo refers to international model standards for building the track modules allowing for compatibility from all over.

“It’s always different, it’s always good fun,” said Jim Ironside, one of the Calgary Free-mo members.

According to Ironside, the modules people bring to these fun runs range from being short, one-foot sections, to 20-foot pieces that vary from the early stages of construction to having had thousands of hours of work pored into them. On arrival, all the individual sections of track are merged into one large circuit.

The group has typically descended on the Big Valley Arena the second weekend of August every year, but the pandemic forced the cancellation of the annual meet for the last two years. The group made their return on Aug. 12 to 14.

Around 38 participants attended the fun run while 200-plus people from the community came out to check out the display.

In addition to the local community, according to Ironside the model railroaders and Alberta Prairie Railway Excursions keep in touch and the train loaded with passengers came down from Stettler one day as well to check things out.

The setup in Big Valley is one of the larger ones for the Calgary-based club. Ironside says that the club does do some shorter fun runs set up in the barn of one of the Calgary members.

As for public displays, the club is very active in Supertrain, the model train show in Calgary in April every year and in Railway Days at Heritage Park over Labour Day Weekend.

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Around 38 participants attended the event’s return to Big Valley Aug. 12-14. (Photo Submitted)

Around 38 participants attended the event’s return to Big Valley Aug. 12-14. (Photo Submitted)

Around 200+ people from the community came in to the Big Valley Arena to check out the highly detailed model railway modules which had trains running on them. (Photo submitted)

Around 200+ people from the community came in to the Big Valley Arena to check out the highly detailed model railway modules which had trains running on them. (Photo submitted)