From left, family members Josey Wise, 4, Sam Wise, 6, Brad Wise, Regina Wise and Rylea Wise, 2, of Mount Zion react to a close-flying quadcopter during a demonstration at the Decatur Train Fair. DECATUR – The trouble with reality is it keeps getting worse. Cities with a glorious railroad history like Decatur, for example, saw their passenger service shunted into the sunset as the rise of the automobile swept all before it. But the good news is that reality is not all that there is, and the Decatur Train Fair at the Civic Center was full of alternate worlds where everything was possible. The show, now in its 23rd year, is hosted by the Decatur Mount Zion and Southern Model Railroad Club and boasted elaborate model train layouts full of tiny faux people, buildings, moving trains, idyllic countryside and just whatever you want. Guest clubs from out of state arrived with their versions of reality, too, and a vast layout by the St. Louis-based Boeing Employees Railroad Club had five tiny engines, four pulling, one pushing, hauling 50 freight cars. Not to be outdone, the Decatur club's layout included Wabash passenger trains, complete with observation cars, running past detailed worlds full of stilled drama. One doughnut shop near the train tracks was surrounded by a cluster of tiny police cars, while pocket-sized emergency vehicles, lights flashing, converged on a garage fire with flickering LED flames and a puff of dirty cotton wool smoke. The two-day train fair was littered with alternate worlds such as this, and its 800 visitors wandered through them picking up ideas while buying necessities for their own alternate realities from 42 parts vendors. Steve Bricker, co-president of the host railroad club, is also an engineer for Norfolk Southern Corp. and likes to take his work home with him: “Railroading,” he said with a smile.
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