One Tank Trip: Scottish Rite Cathedral


When Dick Hummel was just a teen, he would listen for and watch the Reading 2100 as it rumbled by his bedroom window every day, making trips right through his backyard.

At 83 years old, he's still watching.

"I've loved trains since I was 13 years old," explained Hummel.

There's a hum out in the hallway before you can see what's making it inside the Scottish Rite Cathedral in West Reading. Hummel and the other members of the Valley of Reading Train Club are getting ready for the holiday rush. For two weekends every year, before Christmas, they share their love of trains.

The display when it started was just the size of an 8 feet by 12 feet platform. The original setup is part of the permanent display still in the building's basement. There are four other platforms now, on different floors, filled with G, O, S, N gauge trains and a Thomas the Tank.

"As members joined, they were good at their own gauge at home and that's what made it what it is today," Hummel said.

They started with just five members. They are 18 strong now and they call this an 18-year work in progress. A keen eye will spot the insider secrets like a Bieber bus waiting on the corner, the IRS building that's on fire or the sunbathers.

"Here comes the Yuengling beer train," Hummel said as he pointed out the interesting ones. "Do you notice this little guy? He has binoculars."

The set up is particular. There are residential areas, industrial areas, recreational areas and agricultural areas and they don't mix them up. Just like in real life, you'd have to go through zoning.

"It's very important, zoning. I, myself, a former township supervisor, that we have strict zoning regulations," Hummel said.

In just a few days, they'll invite the public in to see it for free.

"My biggest joy of the whole thing is watching the faces of the children and see their little heads turn. They get so excited. They dance, they actually do. They jump up and down," Hummel said.