There never was a time that Dave Thompson did not like trains. Both the Erie and the Lackawanna passed through his hometown of Savona, in southern New York State. As a boy, he played at the Erie depot, eager to catch any action on the lightly traveled line. He spent afternoons at the Lackawanna station, watching mail drops and retrievals, thrilled to see the steel arm of the RPO snatch the mailbag. No wonder the merged pair of Erie-Lackawanna is his favorite railroad.
Of the two roads that formed EL, Dave focuses on the Erie because it is underrepresented in the NRMRC. Besides, he notes, club member "Don Cariss is such a big Lackawanna fan, he just doesn’t leave any room" for another. Among present day railroads, Dave prefers Susquehanna.
Dave had an electric train, pulled by a Santa Fe steamer, during his childhood. But he did not seriously consider rail modeling as a hobby until 1991, when his son Chris returned from the Neuse River Valley train show and told of the NRMRC’s NTRAK layout. The modular concept intrigued Dave, and Chris’s gift to him that Christmas — a caboose and other railroad cars in 1:160 scale, all in EL colors — caused the elder Thompson to wonder: "What was I to do with these cars, except to find out more about this N scale?" He helped Chris build a four-foot module, attended a NRMRC meeting, and joined the club in 1992. Since then, Dave has helped build, renovate, haul, and store club equipment, spent entire weekends working the layouts, wherever the venue, and has served two terms as Standards Committee chairman.
Admitting he will "give advice on almost anything," Dave is best known as a benchwork expert. From the time he participated in his first show, his passion has been streamlining the layout setup and tear-down process. Many NRMRCers remember the pictographic "No Bolts" signs from his campaign to replace separately attached module legs with the permanently mounted, quickly deployed, fold-down type. Dave also likes trying to solve electrical problems and is committed to the DCC revolution. To beginners in the hobby, he suggests: "Save your money until you’ve looked around. Talk to people about equipment and where to buy it, and join a club" to learn from those with experience.
Dave’s favorite prototype railroad experience occurred when he and his wife rode the California Zephyr, Capitol Limited and Silver Star from San Francisco to Raleigh. Among other cherished rail memories is a nighttime visit, at age five or six, with his family to the New York Central yard in Corning, NY. NYC’s steam era was closing fast; Dave recalls climbing into the cab of a locomotive on the verge of extinction and watching the fireman open the firebox doors to stoke the flames. And there is also the time, years later, when he took Chris to see the rail yard in Rochester, NY, and an engineer switching cars invited them along for a cab ride.
Dave graduated from DeVry Institute, where he studied electronics and communications. He worked for radio pioneer Stromberg-Carlson first in Rochester, NY and then in Florida until accepting employment with Northern Telecom in 1981. Dave is now retired from Nortel. He and his wife live in Moriah.
Long interested in things mechanical, Dave built and flew fuel and electric-powered R/C aircraft before discovering model railroading. Of the two types, he prefers battery-powered planes. "You can go off on a quiet morning and not bother anybody," he said, and there’s no wailing motor to distract from enjoying the flight, the outdoors, and the pleasure of introspection.
These days, N scale railroading is the hobby of choice, and Dave would enjoy running a freight yard as part of a layout operating session. He also finds live-steam model railroading fascinating, but says that active pursuit of that pastime would land him on a "slippery slope. I couldn’t support a Kato habit and that, too."
|Module Name||Module Standard||Module type|
|Conhocton River Valley||T-TRAK||Straight|
|Conhocton River Valley - East||T-TRAK||Straight|
|Conhocton River Valley - West||T-TRAK||Straight|
|Lollipop Farm||NTRAK||Reverse loop|
|Red Rock Junction||NTRAK||Junction (Corner + Spine)|
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