Messe 2002:  Another year of firsts...

It was only five days in Germany, but seemed like much more once I got home.  Perhaps cramming such a short trip full of experiences was what made it seem like a week or more, but whatever the case, I was happy to have spent a long weekend in the company of fellow train friends, the DB, manufacturers of all makes and scales, and good ol' Germany.

I arrived on Wednesday, November 6, a day before my "cohorts" on this tour.  This gave me the day to spend with my 92 year old grandmother who lives near Frankfurt.  Of course, I did manage some time at Frankfurt Sportfeld, my perennial favorite vantage point near the Frankfurt airport. 

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Thursday morning I took the first S-bahn to the airport to pick up most of the gang.  We drove into Frankfurt and spent some time at the Frankfurt Dom and the Römerpatz.  The weather, of course, was cold and rainy, but our spirits were high, and after a stop at Modellbahn Kramm and a piece of butter streusel cake, we were ready for more.  We were obligated to meet Dave Pryor at the train station in St. Goarshausen, and were on the road again by noon.

After picking up Dave, we proceeded to the top of the Loreley, where the rain did little to hamper the breathtaking view you experience at the top of this rock.  Our lunch of breads, sausage and cheeses rounded out the afternoon, and as evening fell we drove out of the Rhine valley to Montabauer, the station on the new NBS from Frankfurt to Cologne.  As luck would have it, we arrived just in time to see not one, but two ICEs blow non-stop through the station at speeds over 150 mph.  It was quite a thrill, watching those trains flash by!

Dave Thomson and Dave Pryor dropped Marc Gesink and me off in Bonn and continued to their hotels in Cologne.  We stayed with my former host family, and political and religious discussions kept me up until well after midnight.  Not a good idea, as tomorrow was Messe day...

The sun was shining (!) when we headed out to the Messe.  We met Dave Thomson, already taking pictures at Cologne Hauptbahnhof, and the three of us spent a good thirty minutes watching train traffic before heading across the Hohenzollern bridge to the Messe.

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We entered the vast hall and were immediately amazed by the vastness of the space, and the astonishing number of vendors present.  It really is impossible to walk through the Messe as a group, so we all decided to join up again at noon.  Away we went, checking out the layouts.

On a personal note:  I had been in contact with Hübner, a large one-scale manufacturer in southern Germany, to act as a call-in person for a television ad they were preparing in the United States, and had also approached them about being their representative in the United States.  I would spend almost half the day discussing a potential relationship with the director, and am happy to announce that I am now Hübner's North American Representative!  So please, BUY HüBNER!

Here are pictures from a few choice layouts, and the Marklin stand.  The first is a narrow-gauge 1:32 layout...

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Here are some pictures from LGB's new show layout:

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Here some shots from the Roco H.O. layout, built for them last year by the Modellbahnteam Cologne:

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Here is the Trix N-scale layout featured in Marklin's booth:

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Now some pictures from Bemo's two-sided layout (HOe):

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Brawa, among other things, was demonstrating Aristo-Craft trains:

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Once again, school kids from around Germany had worked for months to construct modules that would make up the world's longest model train layout.  Here are some choice entries...

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I was disappointed to see that the Cologne team had returned with last year's layout, but this wonderful representation of the BLS Nordrampe in H.O. is beautiful enough to spend time with again...

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Berlin was also represented with this TT scale masterpiece,

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Another German club created this brick-making factory in Oe:

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And Marklin was well represented in Z scale,

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One gauge,

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... and H.O. scale...

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Pola had built a beautiful layout in G scale to show off their 1:22.5 scale houses:

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Of course, there were many more beautiful layouts and trains.  If you want to see them, you may have to wait for the video (www.getrichslowvideo.com), or come along on the tour next year (www.greateventtours.com)...

Friday evening a large group of us headed into Cologne for dinner.  I ducked out at one point to become Hübner's spokesperson on a home shopping network spot they had purchased.  The German beer (and pointers from the gang) helped to turn away the butterflies.  I got home late that evening, my mind reeling with the exciting things that I had seen, and the visions of train-related fame that danced in my head...

Saturday I spent the day with friends in Bonn, with the exception of a late-night visit to the Bonn station.  But Sunday was once again all about the trains.  The day began, luckily enough, with a cab ride in a BR143 electric to the Eisenbahnmuseum at Bochum-Dalhausen near Essen, where I ran into Peter Verheyen (in the cab of the Köf below) and his family.  The wide variety of rolling stock at this museum made the outing truly unique.  I love that BR93, and the akku Triebwagen!

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In addition, here are some pictures that Peter Verheyen took that day.  The second picture shows me with the train engineer who had given me a cabride earlier.  You see, after I left, he noticed that I had left my hat and gloves in the cab of the locomotive.  On his way back (the train reversed direction just a few stops down the line) he was kind enough to run out of the control cab when he got to Bochum-Dalhausen and hand them to me, as I was (luckily) still on the platform.  It's one thing to be kind enough to allow an American train fan to ride in the cab, but quite another to risk making your train late to return his hat and gloves.  Here are Peters pictures:

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The day (and the trip) were rounded out with a visit to "Die Deutschlandreise", one of the largest Marklin layouts in the world.  This magnificent layout features eighteen separate loops of track on nine levels, eighteen staging yards, and full individual digital control on each.  The scenery spans Germany from the North Sea to the Alps.  Here are pictures from this unique layout, located next to an old coal mine in Gelsenkirchen...

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After spending a bunch of time admiring the scenery, we were offered a private tour "behind the backdrops" to see the inner workings of this layout.  Some neat stuff!  Needless to say, it was another long evening, and tomorrow would be an early day, as Marc and I were headed to the airport for our flight home.  With the clouds breaking up, I was able to watch Germany disappear below my window in the airplane.  I followed our progress that previous Thursday from Frankfurt to St. Goarshausen and onwards to Cologne before the clouds obscured my vision once and for all.  With a stack of train magazines awaiting me, it wasn't long before I was engrossed in the latest articles about the DB.  The flight would go by quickly...