Mark Miller has been passionate about trains since he was a young boy growing up in Boone. Virtually everyone he knew worked for the Chicago Northwestern railroad, which ran right through the middle of town.
“I grew up half a block from the train tracks,” he says. “I grew up with the sound of them constantly and the smell, the grease. It was an exciting thing, so it’s natural that it would become my hobby.”
Miller collected bits and pieces of model trains over the years, though never quite found the time to construct a full set during his 24-year career as an administrator with the city of Norwalk. However, he retired from his position in 2012, and two of his young grandchildren, Noah, age 8, and Abbie, age 13, moved in with him and his wife shortly thereafter. Miller knew it would be a great opportunity to share his passion with his grandchildren.
“It’s fun to do stuff with them, and Noah really enjoys it,” Miller says. “My granddaughter may even become a buff, too.”
He began collecting the tracks for the train in November and leveling the table in his garage where he will construct the track. Several people in the neighborhood have volunteered to help him out, and Nelson has also done extensive research online on how to build a proper train track.
“I’ve done research on the surface, the lighting, everything you can think of,” he says. “There is no end to the amount of information you can find on the Internet.”
Miller has started building the train two or three times before, but he’s always been too busy to complete it. Now, however, he plans to tackle the project full-on as soon as the weather warms up.
“It’s always been a goal, but building this is more serious now than it’s ever been,” he says.
Eventually, Miller plans to add details to the track like grain elevators, a bridge the train can cross over and even a steam engine that blows smoke. He is happy to finally have the time to share his dream hobby with his family, and he knows once he gets going on the project, it will be hard to stop.
“It’s like with any hobby,” he says. “I’m sure I’ll find a way to just keep building on to it and building on to it. People need something to do.”
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