Remember Joe Bury's and Lincoln Highway Garage? After 77 years, model train enthusiast downsizing layout with iconic York features

John A. Pavoncello
York Dispatch

Barry Swartz of Springettsbury Township has built his model railroad layout for 77 years, ever since his father bought him his first O gauge Lionel train when he was just months old. 

Unfortunately, the days of building new features for his layout are over, he said. Swartz and his wife are downsizing, and the model railroad will have to go. 

"I've been selling off some of the equipment to friends and fellow model railroaders in the model railroad club," says Swartz, though he hopes most of it remains as a collection, preferably in the hands of someone who will at least keep the York County features together.

A family tradition of setting up the train for the holidays turned into a lifelong passion for Swartz. After many years of setting up and tearing down the layout, Swartz built a permanent 210-square-foot display consisting of 20 engines, more than 100 pieces of rolling stock, 20 passenger cars, a population of approximately 350 figures and 180 vehicles of all types.

Unique about his train display is the buildings. Based loosely on a 1950s-era Christmas setting, Swartz has included custom-built models of iconic local buildings and businesses.

They include Joe Bury's Hamburgers and Melvin's BBQ, where he ate in his youth. The Lincoln Highway Garage that used to sit at the corner of East Market Street and Harrison Street is featured. So, too, are the Bon-Ton and Bear's Department store from York City. Even the WSBA Radio building and tower is there.

Perhaps the most recognizable of structures among Swartz's display is the York Barbell building along Interstate 83. 

"The rotating figure I found most attractive going up 83," said Swartz.

It took a lot of searching to find a weight-lifting figure from a toy series that featured carnival acts, which he painted to match the York Barbell statue.

"As far as I know I am the only one who has something similar to that on their layout," he said.