Nathan Preston

No account about Rokal would be complete without reporting about Nathan R. Preston. Preston was the American importer of Rokal; prior to establishing his business at least two other distributors tried their hand. Preston would continue to import Rokal until 1968, when the manufacturer ended production of their model train products.

Family accounts indicate that Preston was a hero of World War II. Family legend has it that Preston captured the town of Bamberg, Germany, single-handedly with a machine gun and a jeep. There is more than a little evidence to support this story.  It was the end of the war, and given the fluid state of affairs at that time, the Germans were probably much happier to see a single American with one gun instead of hundreds of Russian troops with Kalanashnikovs.

In any case, Preston stayed on after the war, working as a military administrator of the Bamberg area. At some point, probably around 1962, his relationship with Rokal would lead him to Des Plaines, Illinois, where he established his distributorship. He did this with the assistance of Mr. Leo Winkler, a German youth that he befriended in Bamberg.

Preston (center) and Winkler (left) at a Chicago trade show in 1962. Photo courtesy of Hal Carstens.

Preston (right) and Winkler (center) at a Chicago trade show in 1962.  Photo courtesy of Hal Carstens.

After Rokal ended production, Preston and Winkler returned to Bamberg, opening NRP Hobbies. He passed on in 1983, at age 67.

Preston (left), Prestonís nephew, brother Bill Preston (right) and a furry friend (rear)

Some information about Prestonís United States import business is located, here.

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