By Ron VandenBoom
More than 100 people turned out to see Havre Beneath the Streets and/or the Havre Rail Museum Saturday for the Pacific Railway Clubs presentation of "The History of the Empire Builder."
The exhibit gave visitors a miniature but realistic view of passenger service along Montana's Hi-Line as it has existed since the Empire Builder's debut in 1929.
The model trains are the pet project of the Pacific Railway Club and enthusiasts like Eldon and Barbara Mooney and Bob Henderson. The Mooneys and Henderson have worked on the creation of the model railroad since the project began about two years ago. Today the display is about two-thirds complete and about $2,000 has so far been invested in creating a miniature example of the important role railroading played in the development of Hi-Line communities.
Saturday's special run was one of four programs that began in June and are scheduled to run once a month through Sept. 9.
The next presentation, "Famous Passenger Trains," is scheduled for Aug. 12 and will run from 1 - 3 p.m. at the Railroad Museum at 120 Third Ave. in Havre.
The final exhibit will be "BNSF Heritage," and is scheduled to depart the depot Sept. 9.
Visitors are encouraged to ask questions of Mooney and Henderson and take the opportunity to learn more about railroading and its impact on Hi-Line heritage.
The trains are the personal property of the Mooneys and Henderson and will only be on display at these special times. But visitors to the Railroad Museum can still see moving trains when they visit, said Frank DeRosa, manager of Havre Beneath the Streets and the Railroad Museum.
"We have two freight trains and a doodle bug running all the time," DeRosa said.
A doodle bug is a short passenger train that did short passenger hauls between Williston, N.D., Havre and Shelby. The doodle bug would also make runs to Great Falls and Helena, DeRosa said.
DeRosa said a timer behind the counter at the museum allows the clerk to keep the trains running anytime visitors enter the museum.