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I am updating this thread today (11-13-2019) to reflect the passing of Tom....He will be sorely missed and will always be known as one of the top if not the top ambassador of our hobby.  The OGR family expresses our deepest sympathy to the Groff family.....rest in peace Tom....



Received from the Groff family today...

Our family would like to share with our fans a current update of Tom's health.

Tom was diagnosed with non small cell lung cancer in August 2013 and in December 2016, the cancer metastasized to his bones. He has endured numerous immuno and chemotherapy treatments for 6 years and the time has come for Tom to enter the care of Hospice. We would like to thank his medical team for their uncompromised care and compassion throughout this fight.

We are most grateful to our employees for keeping things going at the Choo Choo Barn while we have been caring for Tom. We can never thank you enough for all of the extra work you have done without being asked.

To Tom's fans who have appreciated his work and contributions to the artistry of model railroading, know that he loved what he did and he did it for you.

-The Groff Family

Last edited by OGR CEO-PUBLISHER
Original Post
OGR CEO-PUBLISHER posted:

… To Tom's fans who have appreciated his work and contributions to the artistry of model railroading, know that he loved what he did and he did it for you.

-The Groff Family

That is so true.

The countless weekends I took my family to Strasburg, always included a visit to Choo Choo Barn. Really nice folks. Enjoyed by my wife, our kids, and myself.

Best wishes to the Groff Family. I'm very sorry.

Last edited by EBT Jim

I'll add my note of being very sorry to hear of Tom's condition.

Like Chris (not sure if it was the same time or not, this was probably at least 10-12 years ago), I participated in what Tom called a "trial tour" of the behind the scenes type stuff that makes the Choo Choo Barn the Choo Choo Barn.  (This was after TCA Museum presentations on a Wednesday during a York week)

Tom was so very enthusiastic about all of the animations and sharing with us the methods he used to create many of them.  It was an amazing look at what makes it all tick.  To top it off, I seem to recall Tom declined taking the admission fee those of us who attended thought we were going to pay for participating in this tour, as he considered it a dry run practice for himself in case he decided to do it regularly.

Best wishes to Tom and the entire Groff Family in this difficult time.

-Dave

I cannot express how it saddened me when I recently learned of Tom's medical situation. He is such a creative, energetic, talented, and personable fellow. He has always been very kind and helpful when I visited the Choo-Choo Barn, and I am glad Wendy also had the chance to meet and speak with him (he pointed us to a fine eating spot in the Strasburg area). May God's blessings be with Tom and his family in this difficult time and beyond.

Dave45681 posted:

I'll add my note of being very sorry to hear of Tom's condition.

Like Chris (not sure if it was the same time or not, this was probably at least 10-12 years ago), I participated in what Tom called a "trial tour" of the behind the scenes type stuff that makes the Choo Choo Barn the Choo Choo Barn.  (This was after TCA Museum presentations on a Wednesday during a York week)

Tom was so very enthusiastic about all of the animations and sharing with us the methods he used to create many of them.  It was an amazing look at what makes it all tick.  To top it off, I seem to recall Tom declined taking the admission fee those of us who attended thought we were going to pay for participating in this tour, as he considered it a dry run practice for himself in case he decided to do it regularly.

Best wishes to Tom and the entire Groff Family in this difficult time.

-Dave

Yes Dave it was the same night there were a handful of us but that was the last time he did it. 

I was moved to tears when I learned of this on a phone call from Kristi. I worked with Tom many times in producing the video he sells at the Choo Choo Barn. Tom was always friendly, upbeat, full of ideas and energy...definitely a "glass is half full" kind of guy.

As my buddy Jim Barrett said a few posts above this one,"...The Groff family have always been true ambassadors of the O gauge hobby..."

Well said, Jim. There is no greater legacy than that.

Last edited by Rich Melvin

My family and I have visited many times over the years. The layout is inspiring and I loved taking pictures and video to study for my future layout. I've been going to Strasburg since 1982....first with my parents as a teenager and then later with my wife and kids. The Choo Choo Barn never gets old and it's been fun to bring each of my children for their first time there. And now I get to do it again with my granddaughter (1 month old) and another grandchild on the way. Tom's hard work making that magical layout, with all its wonderful miniature representations of real places in Lancaster, is very much appreciated by this family. God bless and thoughts and prayers for Tom and his family. BigRail

I met Tom on two occasions and we had a chance to chat. While I didn't know him real well I found him to be cheerful, hospitable and friendly. The layout at the Choo Choo barn was certainly a "one of a kind" creation. Tom had many creative animations on that  layout and he designed and built those well. Prayers for Tom and the Groff family through this most difficult time.

On our trip to Strasburg last month, we did not get the chance to visit the Choo Choo Barn. Very saddened to hear this horrible news. We're returning to Strasburg in October for you-know-what, but we'll have to fit the Choo Choo Barn into our schedule.

We'll all miss you, Tom, and we hope your final days are filled with nothing but love and joy from your family, friends, employees, customers, and all of us here on the OGR Forum.

One of my all-time favorite purchases for my layout was made from the Choo Choo Barn 25 years ago, and it wasn't a train, it was the Kramer O Scale baseball figures below:

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That Kramer set of figures also includes the outfielders not shown in the above photo.

It was love at first sight when I first saw these baseball figures at the Choo Choo Barn. My wife and young children were with me when I bought them, she approved the purchase knowing how much I love baseball, and I have been thrilled with these baseball figures ever since.

I tell this story not to glorify the purchase, but to give one example of the joy and happiness that the Choo Choo Barn train store and layout have provided to hundreds of thousands of people over the decades, and continue to provide to those with the good fortune to frequent their store. Arnold

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Tom, the Groff family, and his entire staff have certainly have added much to the collective pleasure for those of us who have visited his extensive exhibit.   

This visit from a 2011 trip to the TCA YORK meet is but a brief overview   of his constantly rolling layout.

For those who have visited before, this is another return; for many others, it's an opportunity for an introduction.  For all it's images that will continue on.

Last edited by Rich Melvin

My wife and I were deeply saddened to hear about Tom's battle with cancer and our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this very difficult time.

Tom truly was a wonderful ambassador for the model train industry and hobby. When you think about all of the people who have been entertained, thrilled and encouraged to get into the hobby as a result of visiting the Choo Choo Barn, his contribution to the hobby is immeasurable.

We've enjoyed visiting the Choo Choo Barn many times over the years and have always come away with new ideas and concepts that we incorporated onto our layout.

Steve Tapper

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Last edited by Rich Melvin

Tom's not 'dropped his fire' just yet...

So, knowing that as long as he has life, he has hearing......we were told as our parents passed that it's one of the last senses to shut down, that we should be careful how we speak in their presence.  So be sure to convey to him the love and deepest appreciation that's in our responses.

And on behalf of the hundreds-plus kids....of all ages....who have embraced this hobby for having toured your handiwork and artistic abilities, Tom, rest peacefully knowing that Our Saviour has loving arms with which to greet you.

Thank you so much to Tom and all the Groff family who's hard work and dedication has brought to the world this wonderful display of toy train dreams. Starting with Grand-Pop George I cannot hope to express the joy you have brought to my family and countless others who where fortunate enough to visit the Choo-Choo Barn.

Of course my prayers go out to the whole Groff family but for some reason that seems to be a shallow expression as compared to all the good you have brought to this world through your expression of the toy train art.

Suffice to say the love Tom and  George with their tradition has shown the world should come back to the Groff family a thousand times over.

God Bless to you all.

Last edited by gg1man

So sorry to hear of this. Tom is a genius at making this hobby "come to life". I was fortunate enough to meet him once. A friend of mine owns the HO scale Strasburg Model Railroad Club of South Jersey. After displaying his layout at the Strasburg Museum in 2017, we went to the Choo Choo Barn. When Tom heard we were there, he came down to greet us. He gave us the "grand tour", including behind the scenes and answered numerous questions. His ingenuity is surpassed only by his good will. 

May God bless Tom and his family 

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We are saddened to hear of the loss of Tom Groff who owned the Choo Choo barn in Strasberg, PA. I believe Tom was 77.  While only meeting Tom a couple of times, I found him to come off as a good and decent man. He regularly gave to charities and helped the least among us.  Surely he has earned a place with our Lord and savior in heaven.  Our prayers to the Groff family in their time of grief.  Tom will be missed.

The hand built model railroad exhibit was originally built by George Groff, Toms father. Tom continued the work by adding many animations to the layout that he designed and built himself. Today the third generation of the Groff family continues it's operation and the exhibit is not only great to see but remains as a Legacy to Thomas and George Groff. 

 

I may have met Tom when I went with my wife and young children 25 years ago to the Choo Choo Barn. What a fabulous LHS and splendid l as yout there!

I also bought one of my favorite train related items during my visit to the Choo Choo Barn: my Kramer Products metal O Scale baseball figures. Here are some of them:IMG_0576 I am just one of perhaps millions of people that has experienced joy and happiness thanks to Tom and the Choo Choo Barn. Arnold

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My wife, Kathie, and I just visited the Choo Choo Barn the day before the fall York Meet; it's always a wonderful visit. We especially enjoy seeing other visitors' kids' reactions as they make their way around the layout. It always reminds us of how much our daughter enjoyed it when she was a kid.

Our condolences to Tom's family. Hopefully, they'll be able to continue to operate and maintain the Choo Choo Barn as his legacy.

Chris

I remember as a young boy seeing Choo Choo barn every summer for at least ten years in a row from when I was 6 to 16 yeas old. I always wanted a layout like Choo Choo barn's, but, of course, I was not allowed the space in the house as the layout was bigger than the basement. Years later and after joining TCA I made it a stop every six months to see the improvements/modifications that Mr. Tom would make on the layout.

And now, Mr. Tom has passed on from this Earthly Terminal to the Next. I am sure that all who saw this layout, or even had a chance to talk to Mr. Tom will never forget his kindness and his ideas that he showed all of us.

Mr. Tom, I pray that you have Eternal Peace, Now and for all Eternity.

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After reading about the Choo Choo Barn in train magazines for 30 years,I finally got to see the super impressive layout this past September during my trip to see the N & W 611 steam engine in Strasburg. I loved seeing all the custom animations on the layout. The employee at the front register was providing note cards to write a message to Tom,so I was able to let him know how happy I was to see his elaborate creation.

Right across the street from the Choo Choo barn was a field of corn being harvested by Amish farmers shown in the photo above.

 

 

 

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A wonderful man. Always kind and ready to spread the word about trains. The first train I bought for my daughter was from Choo Choo Barn.  Many days we made the short drive from New Cumberland to Strasburg and each included the Red Caboose Motel, Toy Train and State Train Museums, and the Choo Choo Barn. God's speed Tom.

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