Western Virginia's rail history runs deep. The region's model railroads are impressive as well, and this weekend, members of the Smith Mountain Lake Model Railroad Group are inviting people into their homes to see several museum-quality layouts.
The group is hosting the 5th annual Charity Chug on Saturday and Sunday. Five model train layouts will be open each day from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Donations benefit Lake Christian Ministries, and details are available on the group's website.
Here is the text of a Charity Chug news release from the Smith Mountain Lake Model Railroad Group:
This year's "Charity Chug," a model railroad house-to-house tour hosted by members of the Smith Mountain Lake Model Railroad Group, will be held on Saturday and Sunday, December 8 & 9, 1-5 p.m.
The event provides an opportunity for area residents to check out several extensive model railroad displays in the Smith Mountain Lake area. Visitors to the layouts are encouraged to make donations; all proceeds go to Lake Christian Ministries' "A Child's Christmas" initiative.
"We know from past years that adults really enjoy seeing these displays, most of which are museum quality," said event organizer Dave Phelps. "But for many, the real treat is bringing along some of the children in their lives-family members, neighbors, whomever.
"The 'Charity Chug' has become a two-day event, making it easier for people to fit it around other commitments on their weekend calendars," Phelps added. "Two days also lets us have more area model railroaders put their craftsmanship on display."
Detailed directions to the five layouts open each day are available on the Lake Christian Ministries website, www.LCM-Moneta.org. Note that not all layouts are open both days, so visitors must follow directions for the day (or days!) that they choose to attend.
"This will be the first display year for some of the layouts, and visitors will also get to see the progress that's been made on others they may have visited in prior years," said Jerry Hale, who first proposed using the SML Model Railroad Group's member layouts to benefit children five years ago. "LCM welcomed the idea and has been a partner in the effort ever
"The 'Charity Chug' is an important fund raiser for us," said LCM Director Mike Bond. "It comes at a time when there is so much we want to do to help the underprivileged children in our area. We appreciate the efforts of the model railroaders and the generosity of those who visit their layouts."