Socorro Train Gang Railroad Club member Jon Spargo talks trains and tracks and the fun of being a model railroad enthusiast. John Larson| El Defensor Chieftain photos

Whether life-sized or scaled down to a tabletop, the mystique of the rails has captured the imagination of millions around the world, as members of Socorro’s Train Gang Railroad Club can attest.

According to Club member Jon Spargo, model railroading has been called “the world’s greatest hobby.” The annual Toy Train Show and Swap Meet hosted by the Train Gang was a no-go this year due to the pandemic public health restrictions, so Spargo had to find another way to show off his hobby. He ended up laying his tracks and running his trains along the front wall of Ace Hardware, as part of a display offering train sets for purchase.

The layout is decorated with a Christmas themed village.

“Whether you just like to run toy trains or build elaborate layouts, this hobby has something for everyone,” Spargo said.

He said for anyone who is curious about getting started, he and other Train Gang members can offer information on model railroading, as wells as answer questions.

“If you have an old toy or model train set in the closet or attic, some old toy train sets have become quite valuable and most can be brought back to life for the enjoyment of both big and little kids,” Spargo said.

The Train Gang club, based in the Hammel Museum, started in 1986. “At first it was Dave Matthews and me,” he said. “That was about the time the Hammel building was donated to the Socorro County Historical Society for a museum.”

In due time, the Train Gang was offered the second floor for a room-sized model train layout by the Historical Society. “So now, we have our train room upstairs and then our railroad history room downstairs.,” Spargo said.