Some guys just come from the womb nuts about trains, and that is certainly true for Chris. Especially narrow gauge trains and all manner of geared locomotives, be they narrow or standard gauge. A Colorado native, he was exposed to the very last operations on the D&RGW out of Durango. He is fond a telling the story of his father having to pull him out of the cab of the derelict K-27 No. 464 during a family vacation. Mesmerized by the slumbering narrow gauge veteran, he refused to leave until he had soaked up all the sights, smells and more than a little of its grime and oil.
As a youth he built a fairly extensive Lionel layout and worked on his father’s various HO layouts. His dad may have even finally forgiven him for “weathering” two Varney hoppers by taking a soldering iron to the tops and sides. By junior high, he had switched to On3 and started a new freelanced narrow gauge layout, the Deep Creek & Pine Valley Ry. A move back to Denver in 1976 brought about a shift in his modeling, back to his Colorado roots. Armed with some of the then-new Tomalco kits and a scratchbuilt D&RGW long caboose, he began construction of some modules built to the On3 standard popular at the time. Not finding any other local guys building to this standard, the modules served primarily as track-laying and rolling stock tuning exercises and as test beds for his scenery ideas.
After graduation from Fort Lewis College in Durango, Chris set off to obtain fame and fortune as a rock musician. Within a few years it was clear that the rock n' roll lifestyle was not conducive to modeling trains, family life or even eating regularly— all things he enjoyed a great deal. So he got a haircut, a wife, a family, and a grownup job in the printing industry. He also joined the Denver O Scale Club (now the Denver Society of Model Railroaders, the oldest original two-rail O scale club in the nation) and spent the next several years building scenery and equipment. In 1994 Model Railroading magazine was sold to a new publisher and Chris joined the staff as National Sales Manager.
Long before it was introduced, Chris was able to see pre-production models of the Bachmann On30 Mogul. While not polite to get out the scale ruler in front of a client, the models looked to be very good scale models of the Colorado & Southern No. 21 and 22 moguls. After a time of using the Bachmann models as conversion fodder to On3, the thought started to grow that maybe these models should be used as-is. Further research indicated that new On30 releases were putting a great deal of the fun back into model railroading in general and narrow gauge in particular. The new models were attracting a whole new group of modelers who may have had an interest in narrow gauge, but felt that the skills and expense were out of their reach. These new modelers had great enthusiasm but lacked basic knowledge of narrow gauge practices. Chris found himself spending a great deal of time answering questions on the Internet and at train shows. From these observations, the idea for the On30 Annual was born.
Don Strait was quickly recruited as Associate Editor of the new publication, bringing his experience from Model Railroading with him. Within a few months the first issue of the On30 Annual was produced, and it was an instant hit. George Riley came on board with that first issue and has been a fixture ever since. When Model Railroading expired in 2007, Chris joined the staff at Carstens Publications and brought the Annual with him. In addition to producing the HOn3 Annual and On30 Annual, Chris is charged with producing new books for Carstens’ ever-expanding line of hobby publications, in addition to representing the company at train shows across the country.
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