Carving an 1880s Western Train

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Carving an 1880s Western Train

Members of the Caricature Carvers of America join forces to create a nostalgic display


The primary objective of the Caricature Carvers of America (CCA) is to promote the art of caricature carving. The organization works hard to achieve this objective through seminars, exhibits, competitions, and books. Major group carving projects are a part of the larger scope of the CCA’s activities. The first group projects, the Full Moon Saloon and the CCA Circus, were fantastic learning experiences for CCA members. Each of these initial projects is showcased in books available through Fox Chapel Publishing ( The 1880s train is the CCA’s third major group project.

The train began its journey as a suggestion by Dave Stetson. Dave presented a boxcar on a section of track, complete with hobos, to illustrate his vision for the project at the CCA’s 2004 hatannual meeting in Dollywood, Tenn. The idea was an instant hit and the membership voted unanimously to undertake the project. The scale was set at 1″ equals 1′, and excitement swept through the room as members volunteered to take on major portions of the project.

The most difficult and time-consuming task was the construction of the engine and train cars. It was important for each car to have a uniform look. Doug Raine immediately volunteered to build the engine and tender, and several other members volunteered to handle the remaining cars. Dave Stetson provided dimensions for the track and constructed the wheels and axels for the entire project.

Once the train and figures were complete, CCA members got together for the initial set up. The engine and tender were placed at the front and the caboose at the back, but the remainder of the layout was a little more challenging.

“Organized chaos might be an overstatement, but it does accurately describe our efforts to organize the train,” laughed CCA member Bob Travis. “We arranged, re-arranged, and arranged again until we felt the train had balance and each piece was appropriately displayed.”

CCA members decided to create additional carvings to round out the scene and what began as a one-year project ultimately spanned two years. The train project is another step forward in the CCA’s goal to develop a deeper appreciation for the art of caricature carving. Members hope the project inspires woodcarvers and woodcarving clubs to create their own masterpieces.