Forgotten rails memorialized in scale


OKLAHOMA CITY — The old Milwaukee RR survives in miniature thanks to George Wallace.

“I’ve been a modeler most of my life,” he says. “It was interrupted by a career in the Air Force but other than that I’ve been playing with trains.”

George’s O-Scale trains are much smaller than the original steam locomotives his father worked on. The scenery, for now, he jokingly refers to as ‘plywood western’, but he’s working on it.

“This is obviously just a work in progress,” he says about his current layout.

“When did you get your first train set?” asks a visitor. “Age 3,” responds Wallace. “And I’ve been hooked on trains ever since.”

In a vacant store front at Crossroads Mall in OKC, a whole group of model train builders have the room they need to lay all the track they could ever want.

Mark Gardner found the old Uinta line in Colorado on a motorcycle trip once. He’s rebuilding the old narrow gauge line in here, town and trains, just like it was when the Gilsonite mines were working. Mark says, “They closed it back in 1939.” “This is a depiction of the Rio Grande train.”

O-Scale is a quarter inch to the foot. So guys like Gardner re-create from history books and old pictures.

Software on the steam engines makes all the noises the old ones ever did. Even a replica of an old gas powered mail car sounds authentic. “This is something you don’t go buy at a store,” states¬†Gardner. “I built all the cars and some of the engines. It’s more of an artistic form because they’re not production made.”

They come here on weekends and nights after work. The O-Scalers, and HO-Scalers, the ON3 modelers are building a home away from home where hopping a freight and riding the rails to see America is only a few steps away from possible.

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