After a more than ample lunch at Trackside Grill in the Center of the Universe (as some folks in Virginia call the town of Ashland), the Great One and I decided that we’d best get ourselves in gear and at least walk across the tracks and the down the street.  I knew, that wasn’t going to compensate for the humongous club sandwiches and heaping servings of fries topped off with copious amounts of sweet ice tea we had just ingested, but at least it was better than continuing to sit idly watching the trains go by.  I’m talking real trains.  They have close to 50 trains a day go through town.  We saw both passenger and freight trains glide by while we devoured our lunch. 

Some say they call Ashland the Center of the Universe because of its central location along the Eastern Seaboard and others because of its central location in Virginia.  But according to the town’s website, it is also the intersection of two of the nation’s longest bike routes giving it yet another claim on the COTU title.

We made our way across the tracks at the pedestrian walkway.  Luckily there were no trains in sight.  I doubt we could have kicked our speed up a notch to clear the tracks in time.  We were doing good just to be moving at that point.  We wandered down S Railroad Avenue past various restaurants and shops until we came upon a shop whose windows were filled with trains of the toy variety. 

Now, I’m sure there are railroad aficionados out there who take issue with me calling them toys.  I only use that designation to differentiate them from the larger ones we had seen on the tracks just mere steps away from the door of Tiny Tim’s Toys.  It certainly wasn’t our typical picking destination, but you can’t leave a railroad town without checking out the local train lover’s dream store, so of course we stopped in to browse. 

Knowing very little about trains in general we looked rather lost, when Suzanne, the owner, came to our rescue.  She graciously took the time to point out the finer points of the railroad collector’s world.  She showed us what to look for, gave us the names of books to refer to and showed us some of her own photos.  (Did I mention that she is also a Lego Maniac?  Click the link below to see her Lego/Train video.)

We had never really run across any trains during our picking adventures, that is until last weekend.  Stopping in at The Raggedy Man, front and center on his counter were 3 Lionel Lancaster and Chester Railroad/The Springmaid Line cars in their original boxes.  According to The Raggedy Man himself, it seems that when Lionel began manufacturing these cars, they thought the Lancaster and Chester Railroad was located in Pennsylvania.  Once they realized their error, they discontinued these models.  Then at the Waxhaw Antique Mart we came across a few more train cars.  These were older but without original boxes.  Guess we better get those books and start educating ourselves.  I wonder if the trains had always been around but we were just oblivious to their existence.