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Phil Irwin, God rest his soul, in addition to being a stalwart champion of our beloved Rappahannock environment, absolutely loved trains. I was fortunate enough to enroll in his comprehensive train class through what was then RappU [now RappCE], so was able to see his intricate model train system, including the famous three foot tunnel through a foundation wall in his Caledonia Farm home.
Our class took a field trip to see an extensive model train display created by a model train club. Truly fascinating, intricately filling an entire huge room. At the time, Phil lamented that the interest in the model train hobby seemed sadly lacking in an upcoming generation.
As this is the Christmas season, why not research opportunities to introduce model train life into yours? From introductory Thomas the Train for young ones to education about trains and assembling the real model train systems, what fun might you have?
The last time I spoke to Phil was outside a Board of Supervisors meeting. I told him about a trip we had to Cass, West Virginia, to experience the steam engine train excursion at a prior timber town. His eyes lit up.
“Did you take it to the top?” he questioned, and smiled when I replied, “Oh, yes!” and expressed our happiness about the entire trip. Truly a joyful man in whatever he pursued. A loss, but a treasure to remember and cherish.