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1984 Spotlight – A ‘Model’ Landlord

LaRue C. Shempp
LaRue C. Shempp

You never know who your neighbor is, or in this case, your landlord. Williamsport native LaRue C. Shempp rented to male Williamsport Area Community College students, but also dedicated his life to building one of the country’s most famous model-train collections. After his retirement in 1974, he sold his 323 complete train outfits to the Williamsport Foundation and moved it to what is now the Thomas T. Taber Museum of the Lycoming County Historical Society (just a few blocks from the college’s main campus). Representing an investment of more than $100,000, the expansive collection was coveted throughout the nation and attracted widespread offers for its purchase. Plenty of national publicity followed – newspapers, television shows and radio broadcasts – but Shempp wanted the trains to be enjoyed locally. He remained very active, conducting tours two to three times a week and offering private and group showings to interested WACC students. As an appreciative way of giving back to Shempp, who contributed his life’s passion to his community, students nominated and named him Landlord of the Year in 1980. Check out the full story in the Sept. 4, 1984, edition of Spotlight (available through Madigan Library’s online archives). The collection gave rise to a holiday tradition: The Toy Train Expo, which now bears the name of its late founder Will Huffman. This year’s expo, the 23rd annual, will take place Nov. 23-24 at Park Place, 800 W. Fourth St.

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