BY DEB AND TIM SMITH
It’s been around 45 years since anyone has been able to see a flashing railroad crossing sign in the hamlet in Mendon. Well, that has now changed with the opening of a new business called “The Train Place” which is owned and operated by Lyle Fair. You can hop on board at 3911 Rush Mendon Rd. which would be the second door from the light on the south side of Rush Mendon.
Lyle started getting interested in trains about 20 years ago when his children were younger and he bought them a train set at Christmas time to run around the tree. He thought it might be a great family activity, but quickly realized that the kids were more interested in electronics than train sets.
You’re probably anticipating when the train is going to pull out of the station at this point and where it’s going to be heading. While the kids were glued to the screen, Lyle was playing with the trains and realizing how much he enjoyed the hobby.
He started collecting with a small ad in the PennySaver, and it soon became a hobby that went careening off the tracks. When asked where his fascination with trains began, Lyle traces it back to his youth which was spent in Fairport. He lived there for over 40 years before moving to Honeoye Falls a few years ago.
As a kid he remembers watching the trains running through the village and the fascination he felt, never imagining at some point later in life he would become “The Train Place.”
“It was my desire to do something good in the world,” Lyle said, “and spread a little joy anywhere I could; what a great way to do this. I enjoy the history of trains because of the people who share the hobby. Most remember trains in such a positive way and have warm stories to tell.”
“When you walk into The Train Place it’s almost like walking into an old-fashioned barber shop. It’s a place where people can come, relive their childhood, and expand upon their imagination as adults. It’s something that can be shared with their families.”
The Train Place sells trains and tracks in a wide variety of sizes. Lyle sells both new and vintage train items. He buys unwanted trains to get them back in circulation where they’ll be loved and appreciated, a much-preferred fate than being stored in an attic or basement, unused and tucked away.
We asked Lyle about any interesting or special stories that have occurred in the short time since he opened his retail location and he shared the following…
“I recently had people come in on a Saturday and start talking about trains. One looked at the other and said, ‘Want to come see my train layout right now?’ and the other said, ‘Most definitely.’ [facilitating a nice train buff connection made possible through The Train Place.] What an awesome feeling because that’s what it’s all about for me; bringing people and families together.”
The Train Place hours are Tuesday-Saturday 10-5. The display inside the store is truly intriguing and, with the weather getting warmer, why not head down the tracks to the Hamlet of Mendon and check out this local treasure.
Oh, one closing thought to connect the dots on our opening line which cited “45 years” as the gap between the railroad crossing lights flashing in Mendon. While the Lehigh Valley Railroad sliced through the hamlet on a commercial basis from 1892-1976, we weren’t sure if the lights would have flashed at any time after that.
Subsequently we ran it by local historians Paul Worboys and Charles Woolover who provided us with the following additional information, substantiating our math at the 45-year mark. Paul said, “The last bonafide train tripped those crossing signals on March 31, 1976 – just like the first ‘official’ train utilized a crossing flagman on September 1, 1892.” Charles added that, “There were some miscellaneous things between the end on 3/31/76 and when they ripped it up in 1978.”
Thanks as always for the help, Paul and Charles, and again, please stop in and visit Lyle. It’s part of the railroad ambiance of our community’s history.