BEND, OR -- The 'Train Man' is back at the Deschutes County Library in Downtown Bend, bringing with him 15 engines, 100 freight cars, 30 passenger cars, and 5 tracks...
Former Kindergarten teacher Michael Lavrich says it all started when Bend's Old Stone Depot got moved down into the Old Mill District. He says paperwork was found in the Depot's cornerstone so he took trains from the same era to match the paperwork for a display, which eventually, ended up as an event at the library. "The first year or two, I think we just scooted a couple tables together, and just had a day or two we ran, maybe a couple hours in the afternoon, but the idea caught on and its slowly expanded ever since."
His layout is 16 x 30 feet, with a huge outer curve. "These trains, actually, in the course of this show, will run an equivalent distance of here to Redmond and back, because of the number of hours they're running and in the end, they end up running 30 or 40 miles before this is over."
For Lavrich, this Library event is a chance to share his love of trains with a new generation. "I grew up around trains, and when I was a kid, every store window around Christmas had a big train display. And it's just part of the magic of Christmas. I had this collection of trains and when my kids were young, they used to dance around them when I was running them at home during Christmas. My own kids are grown up now, and so it's just great to share this with other kids."
For the last few years, over 2,000 people have gone to the Library at Christmas time to see Lavrich's train layout.
All the toy trains on display are from Lavrich's personal collection, and some are over 100 years old.
A lifelong train enthusiast, Lavrich says trains and kids are an excellent combination. "I actually was a kindergarten teacher for many years and so I do very much enjoy children, and at this point, it's more about the kids than it is about the trains for me. I just really enjoy them coming out and their eyes lighting up from watching the trains go round."
To find out when the trains are running between now and December 28th, check the Library website.