Val Ease Central Railroad by Jeffrey MacHan

The Sinsheim Chronicles: Episode 13

Phase 2 - Goeppingen - Food for Thought or Thanks for the Memories

As we were making our way to the next stop on our red-carpet guided tour of train heaven in Joe's BMW, I asked him if the car was a retirement present from Märklin. Throughout the tour I had been asking lots of questions and making jokes that Joe sometimes, actually, took seriously. Fortunately, Eric and Terry made sure that my humour and Joe's confusion didn't get us turfed off of the tour. ;-)

The 'Holy Grail' of 'Z' - The Märklin Museum! Joe finally caught on to my "serious" side and said that unfortunately he had to pay for the car himself but after 27 years with Märklin he was happy just to be able to continue his connection with the company as part-time tour guide. Talk about loyalty!

Then, there it was...the Museum!

The flags along the facade were standing at attention in the brisk wind as we approached the main entrance. We heard the clickety-clack of two Maxi trains running around a landscaped section even before we spotted them. It was nice to see a Union Pacific F7 keeping the German steamer company running through the bushes and flowers.

The recently renovated Museum was sparkling glass and chrome. The arched ceiling of the main hall was very enticing as we could see a couple of display layouts from the information kiosk.

Terry checks out the Maxi garden layout The Museum entrance hall

But Joe was anxious to get to the cafeteria before there was nothing left to eat and who were we to argue with him on that point! Up we went to the second floor and into the well appointed employees cafeteria.

The items on the menu were surprisingly good. Needless to say we had a very good meal topped off with Hagen Das white chocolate coated ice cream bars...what a delicious way to prepare for our visit.

The cafeteria had a good selection at reasonable prices. The atmosphere was relaxed and comfortable.

We made our way down the stairs to the main entrance where we finally walked into the main gallery. Surprisingly the HO display layout was not operating although the track plan was very interesting.

Eric Foxman enjoys the Märklin Museum. Museum displays.

Looking around for any Z on display we came across a bare table with a loco running around in circles. Next to it was another display with a large 30 (for the 30th anniversary of Z) on a table with the track forming the loops of the 3 and the 0. Very disappointing, to say the least.

Maybe there would be a wall display in the main gallery where Märklin had to have examples of many of their products since the beginning of the company. Surely there would be a collection of every item they had produced in Z since 1972...NOT!

At this point Joe Rocchia said that he had to leave us on our own as he had to return to his official duties. We thanked him very warmly for his excellent tour and to extend our thanks to Fred Gates who had made the arrangements with Joe. Before we left the museam Joe returned with a large envelope with catalogs in English of the Export and New items.

Looking down the length of the Museum gallery Joe Rocchia and Terry Sutfin

As we made our way down the long hall of the main gallery we saw the history of Märklin in the models in the glass and chrome cabinets. One of the most impressive presentations was the cabinet with the enitre Märklin production of crocodiles.

The entire Märklin Krocodile production with the exception of their 'Z' version. At the farthest end of the 50-meter long gallery we stepped into a very well-stocked gift shop. The Märklin fanatic could buy every kind of trinket and souvenir item including cigarette lighters, keychains, coins, backpacks, bookbags, posters, paperweights and, of course, the annual museum car. Terry picked up two but I decided to pass on the opportunity. Frankly, I was somewhat disappointed by the lack of any expression of Märklin corporate pride in Mini-Club. There was no display layout and the Z display at the entrance was a joke. I later learned that Märklin had commissioned Manfred Jorger to build the "30 year" Z display. Too bad they didn't take advantage of his great talent to do something worthy of the scale's great potential.

When Eric reminded us that there was a large hobby shop (Drehscheibe - Turntable) just across the street from the museum. We quickly concluded our visit and made our way toward the obvious signs beckoning to model train enthusiasts from afar.

The Museum had a very well-stocked store. There was a very large hobby shop by the name of Drehscheibe almost right across the street from the Museum

We spent about half an hour wandering the well stocked aisles of the store rooting out the rather limited Z offerings. Although tempted by a couple of country lamp poles I finally decided that I would have to be very patient if I was ever to find my special souvenir car. Then I spotted the Märklin Austrian railways "Schenker" freight set. Hey, that would make an interesting reminder of the great service the freight forwarder had provided during Faszination Modellbau. I recalled that the set was 5 euros cheaper at the first shop we had seen earlier in the day. Eric said that we could stop by there on the way to the train station.

Eric had one last stop in mind before we headed back to the hotel for our bags. He knew of a second hand shop tucked into some corner street where there was a case of used locos. Sure, let's take a look...but alas, the years had not been good to the few steamers we discovered and the prices were far too up-to-date to be the least bit attractive. So off we continued through the beautiful streets of Goeppingen towards our last HSS where I made my Schenker purchase.

Looking down a main street in Göppingen. It was only after I had the 2-car set in my sweaty hands that I realized that the cars had the same markings. They were flipped over in the box and I thought that the two cars were completely different. Oh well, I now had an extra car I could sell if needed. ;-)

In the remaining minutes before we had to bid adieu to Goeppingen, Eric bought us coffee and dessert at a very nice patisserie where we talked about plans to get together again perhaps in Seattle in 2004 at the National Train Show. Hey, it's never too early to consider options!

At the appointed hour Terry and I left our friend who had been such a great help in arranging our Goeppingen adventure and headed toward the station. Terry was temporarily attracted to the WC on the plaza but after 5 minutes waiting for the door to open we decided that the WC on the train would do just as nicely.

The WC on the station plaza. Göppingen station platform

Before long we were waving goodbye to the place we had been dreaming of since joining the world of Z modellers. What indelible memories we would be taking home with us!

Soon we were gliding silently towards our next adventure, the monthly meeting of Z Stammtisch Munchen at the Loewenbrauhaus at Stiglemeirplatz on Dachaustrasse. My only guide to downtown Munich was a scribbled map on the back of a napkin provided by a very well lubricated Gunter and Norbert from the previous Saturday. The map depicted the best beer halls including the Loewenbrauhaus, which they did not recommend by the way, and the better hobby shops in town. I could only hope that they were right or that I could find a friendly English-speaking station attendant at the Munich Haupbahnhoff!

Stay tuned for Episode 14 of the Great European AdventureZ 2002 | Return to Sinsheim Chronicles Home.