Discovering the “Great Lodestone Railroad Empire” for the first time is a little like falling into an I Spy book. At first, viewers are astounded, then amazed, and finally delightedly absorbed.
“The atmosphere is happy, happy, happy,” said (Emperor) Terry Paullin. “Children’s laughter is infectious. I most look forward to seeing the kids’ eyes light up as they watch the trains, and listening to adults’comments.”
All are invited to the 6th annual “Trains for Autism” fundraiser on September 29 and 30, from 10 to 4, at Paullin’s home, 1664 Lodestone Road, near the intersection of Isabel Avenue and Concannon Blvd. in Livermore.
“As always, it will be heavily catered, with games for the kids, a scavenger hunt, a big raffle for the adults, and new features on the layout,”
Though the scenes are small (G-scale, to be exact), the impact is huge. Paullin’s empire includes: 1,100 feet of track, 350 characters, 125 buildings, 110 automobiles, six lakes, two ponds, steaming factories, a drive-in movie, a water feature, countless animals, and 18 trains with digital soundboards chugging and choo-chooing around the labyrinthine tracks.
“New this year are Ralph’s Wrecking Yard, a hot air balloon ride, two new picnic areas, three new locomotives, and five new ‘logo’ boxcars. It’s a pretty active layout,” Paullin said. “My thing is detail. I like all the scenes: the gas station, a drive-in with hot rods, a wedding, a farm, two hobo camps, a scene from Casablanca with Bogie and Lieutenant Louis, and a church in Terry Town.”
No wonder fans have dubbed the empire the “Train Disneyland of Livermore.”