MTH Amtrak Northwest Olympia Beer Boxcar

Larry at Olympia's Centennial Amtrak Station

Larry's Training

Olympia, Washington
September 2019 Edition

More Locomotives    RealTrains    Andy's Trains

Larry's Buddy Anthony; Nov. 11, 2018

The 4449 visits Centennial Station; Olympia, WA Hudson showing his Pierre Marquette ticket Ryan and 'Steam Cloud' Ryan with an engine from his John Deere livery
Middle,  the Amtrak stop in South Olympia, Larry meets Thomas The Tank Engine at Hood River, Ore. Just above,, 4449 Daylight visits the "Centennial Station," Hudson shows his ticket riding the Pierre Marquette in Michigan (Christmas 2015) which is the prototype for the Polar Express movie engine, Ryan Arreola with the SP Daylight he calls "Steam Cloud." and, right, nephew Andy Rohrback with an engine from his famous John Deere collection.

Larry on a former Army switch engine that operated at Joint Base Lewis McChord.
Sounder to NFC Championship, Jan. 19, 2014
Larry at Mount Baker Linki
Photos by Robin Ganders
Above, Larry boarding Sounder special game-day train at Lakewood Transit Station bound for NFC Championship Game next to Seattle's King Street Station, Jan. 19, 2014. Seattle Seahawks defeated San Francisco 49ers 23-17 at Century Link Field to earn a trip to the Super Bowl. Below, Larry boarding Link light rail for Seahawks exhibition game on Sept. 3, 2015.
Welcome To Folks Interested
In Northwest O-Gauge Model Railroading

This is a great hobby and I like to share some of the fun with you. My name is Larry Ganders and I live in Olympia, Washington, USA. Email me by clicking here:
Larry Ganders E-mail  

Granddaughter Poppy at the ZW

Granddaughter Poppy, 15 months old, with the classic 275-watt Lionel ZW transformer (Produced from 1948 to 1966)  May, 2017.

Grandson Hunter Thomas visit to Hood River, Ore; July 2, 2006
Grandson Hunter Poster commemorating Thomas The Tank Engine visit to Hood River, Ore.on July 2, 2006



Larry is a hobbyist Enjoying Northwest

Roadnames in O-Gauge Three-Rail

Larry specializes in Northwest road names such as Great Northern, SP&S, Northern Pacific, Milwaukee Road, Union Pacific, Southern Pacific, Burlington Northern, Burlington Northern Santa Fe, and so forth. He models for the steam-to-diesel conversion years, about 1955 to 1965. He has modeled in O-Gauge since a youngster, tutored and inspired by the late Spokane Valley Hometown Hardware Owner Fred Hecker.

Larry's First Train, Lionel Santa Fe switcher
Larry's first model engine was a Lionel Santa Fe switcher purchased in the 1960s. This was the General Mills-owned era of Lionel Trains.

Mabton & Yakima Valley

Larry grew up around some of the great Northwest rail lines. He watched the Northern Pacific steamers with bells ringing, switching at Mabton in the Yakima Valley.

 Wishram & The Columbia Gorge

He saw and rode the SP&S 4-6-6-4 Challenger at Wishram and watched trains lumbering through the Columbia Gorge on both Oregon and Washington sides of the river.  A favorite camping spot is Maryhill State Park with views of the main BNSF line on one side of the river and the Union Pacific on the south bank. A Great Northern Baldwin P-2 Mountain steam engine (GN# 2507) is displayed at nearby Wishram due to the efforts of Klickitat County. Larry remembers when the 4-8-2 P-2, repainted to SP&S (Spokane, Portland, and Seattle) markings, was displayed during the 1960s at Maryhill State Park. The engine was purchased from GN as a gift to the county from SP&S. It was removed from the park for unsuccessful restoration efforts in Pasco before BNSF brought it back to the county for display at Wishram.


 Hangman Valley & Spokane

He heard the haunting horns of the great Burlington Northern and Union Pacific diesels running along the cliffs of the Hangman Valley to Latah Junction near Spokane. As an elementary school student in Spokane, he rode the orange Great Northern Empire Builder cars pulled by an F3, his favorite consist.

Great Northern Station, Spokane, (Also used by SP&S)
Havermale Island
Circa 1971
Sketch by Wes Moline, Courtesy Bill Moline, Spokane

Pasco & the Columbia Basin

As a newspaper reporter, he wrote and photographed the last of the hobos at the Pasco, Wash. hump yards. 

Olympia & South Puget Sound

He now is a volunteer at Centennial Station, southeast of Olympia Wash., and south of Lacey along the Yelm Highway. This is where the Amtrak Cascades (EMD F59 locomotive)Talgo train between Portland or Eugene, Ore. and Seattle or Vancouver, B.C. stops multiple times every day.  It is the only station that serves the state capital and was the first  Amtrak station in the United States staffed completely by volunteers. It is now the fourth busiest station in Washington state. The horn of the the Coast Starlight can easily be heard from his home as it also makes a twice-daily Olympia stop on its passenger route between Seattle and Los Angeles. The main track also carries freight trains under both Union Pacific and Burlington Northern flags. It is the same track that carries the rumbling Genesis engines and other trains by Safeco Field during a Seattle Mariners game.   

MTH, Lionel, and QSIndustries

Larry's operating layout utilizes features of the Mike's Train House (MTH) Digital Command System (DCS).  He also uses the Lionel Trainmaster Command Control (TMCC) operating schemes. He  has QSI and conventional locomotives as well.  


Olympia-Lacey Amtrak Station

Larry working at Washington's all-volunteer Olympia-Lacey "Centennial" Station


Categories of Larry's Collection
The Burlington Northern Family

Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway 

Northern Pacific
Switch Engine

BN Santa Fe

Great Northern

Burlington Northern
Dash 8

Southern Pacific, Milwaukee Road and Logging

Milwaukee E-8, MTH

Weyerhaeuser Shay, MTH

Southern Pacific GS4 Northern Daylight

Milwaukee Road
E-8 Diesel

Shay Steamer

Milwaukee Road
Hiawatha Steam

Milwaukee Road
Hiawatha Observation

The Union Pacific Collection


General Motors EMD
SD90 Diesel

FEF Northern

E-3 Passenger

Switch Engine

Old Toy Trains

Lionel 2026 Prairie

New York Central

Lionel 224E

2657 Lionel Tinplate Caboose

 Lionel Lines 2046 4-6-4 Hudson Steamer
Made in 1950

Lionel 2026
Prairie Steamer
Circa 1949

New York Central F-3 Early Lionel Diesel
Made 1949-54

Lionel Lines 224E
2-6-2 Steamer
Made 1938-1940

Lionel Tinplate
2657 Caboose


Carpet Training


Easter Sunday, 2011

Bob's New York Central:
Early Lionel F-3 Diesel

 In between permanent layouts, Larry has taken to "carpet training" for the last several years. He is pictured with the late Bob Plotts running a vintage model diesel engine purchased by Bob in the 1950s.  We miss Bob, a huge fan of all types of transportation.

The New York Central F-3 was among the first two types of model diesel engine manufactured by Lionel trains beginning in 1949. It came out shortly after General Motors built the first real 1,500-horsepower F-3 engines between 1945 and 1949. The F-3s were used for both passenger and freight trains. Bob's locomotive is one of the original Lionel 2333-20 models manufactured in both NYC and Santa Fe until 1950.  Bob estimates that he purchased it in 1954 in Spokane, so it is at least a 57-year-old toy train. With a little lubrication and maintenance, it still zooms around the track like it did when Bob was a lad. And the "A" unit still carries a D Battery that makes the horn blow, a horn technology that reportedly gave Lionel fits during development in the 1940s. Lionel must have perfected it, because this model still blows its horn on command today.

Bob also had a Lionel 2026 "Prairie" steamer (2-6-2 Wheel Configuration, circa 1948-49, designed for 027 track) when he was young and kept it the rest of his life. It was displayed in his living room at the time of his death.

(Photo by Roseanne Plotts.)

Bob's Lionel 2333-20, Vintage 1950 Model

Lionel 2026, Bob Plotts

Top, The New York Central F-7.

Below it is the 1948-49 Lionel Prairie Steamer as photographed by Larry in 2014.

Old Toy Trains

Lionel Lines 2046 4-6-4 Hudson

 Lionel Lines 2046 Hudson

This toy engine, previously owned by Karl Boehmke of Pullman, WA, survived flood damage.  Made at the Lionel factory in the USA, this 65-year-old toy has been running with the original whistle tender and smoke unit.  Lionel modeled its post-war toy train after a real Santa Fe 4-6-4 Hudson engine that was developed in the late 1920s for carrying more passenger cars. There were a number of builders of the Hudson that were initially designed for the New York Central Railroad (named for the river.) The Santa Fe Railroad version was probably built by Baldwin. Until the Hudson, trains were limited to about 12 passenger cars.  There are operational Hudsons today, including in Sonoma, CA. The fact that the toy engine has a silver stamped 2046 number on the side is what identifies it as produced by Lionel in 1950. Other versions followed in 1951-3 but none had the silver number.  It was an early toy engine that offered Lionel's patented "Magnetraction," That means traction on metal Lionel track was assisted by a magnetic pull from the wheels.  The 2046 is shown above in a December, 2011 photo running around Larry's office.


The 2046 still has its original smoke unit
and it also has a whistle tender.

Featured Locomotives

The Western Star:
Great Northern FT Diesel

 This model train by MTH sports the classic Great Northern colors that marked such passenger trains as the Empire Builder and the Western Star.

The favorite in my collection:
SP&S Challenger 910

Originally ordered by the Union Pacific Railroad, the prototype of this "Challenger" steam engine model (above) was first pressed into service in 1936. It was distinctive in its 4-6-6-4 wheel arrangement  (two sets of three drive wheels on each side of the engine)  It handled unprecedented loads at 50 percent faster speeds than previous engines. Union Pacific's order to Alco for more locomotives was interrupted by the War Production Board for World War II. The board allowed production of the locomotives but insisted that they be delivered to other roads like the "Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway." I saw the original SP&S No. 910 engine in Wishram, WA along the Columbia River when I was a boy in the late 1950s and a Wishram photo of that same engine is below (Note the six drive wheels and the 910 number.) The "Rail King" model, by Mike's Train House surprisingly of the same exact 910 prototype, is shown above pulling into the village siding on Larry's attic layout. Below the 910 is a July 2006 photo of a Burlington Northern westbound freighter holding at Wishram.

1934, The Streamliner:

My featured collection addition is the "M10000." This was the classic Union Pacific streamliner introduced in 1934 as the passenger train of the future by President Averell Harriman. The unique aluminum hull was used to promote the opening of Grand Coulee Dam in Washington State by traveling through a large penstock. This model was produced by Mike's Train House for the RailKing line. The model comes equipped with Protosounds 2.

Feeling Blue In The 1970s

  Great Northern had a blue paint scheme in the final years before merger into Burlington Northern. Here's a Mike's Train House Rail King model of the Great Northern in blue. The engine at left is modeled after the turbocharged GP-20, a common sight in the Pacific Northwest that was built by General Motor's Electromotive Division (EMD.) The prototype was last built in 1962 but operated through the 1970s.

There's even a blue caboose. The engine at left is Larry's SW1500 switcher, also in blue GN colors.


For more engines, click here for Larry's New Trains Section

Scale railroading colleague Andrew Rohrback helps Larry carpet train a vintage 224E Lionel steamer.

Nothing runs like a deere!*

* Larry's Training Center - Olympia is not affiliated
with Washington State University or John Deere but we're huge fans.

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