All Aboard: This Michigan Model Train is More than Two Miles Long
More than 12,000 feet of railroad track is crowded into a 10,000 square foot building in Metro Detroit, making it one of the world's largest model trains.
The Coronavirus pandemic has been a major disruption to the lives of people across the planet. While many industries have faced challenges, others are thriving, including the hobby of model railroading. For some, I've got to think that they now have time to finish that project they've been dreaming of working on for a long time. Others really enjoy the family connection of the hobby- perhaps their father or a beloved grandpa always had a model train they looked forward to seeing.
Along with baking and jigsaw puzzles earlier in the pandemic, model trains are among the passions being rediscovered while people are cooped up indoors. Several companies that make trains are reporting jumps in sales. For many people, the chance to create a separate, better world in the living room — with stunning mountains, tiny chugging locomotives and communities of inch-high people where no one needs a mask — is hard to resist.
For those of us who maybe don't have the time, money or the space for a miniature railroad, it only takes a road trip to Metro Detroit to see one of the biggest on the planet. They claim the Chi-Town Union Station train is the world's largest O-scale model train and home of the world's longest model train. Guinness officially recognizes the Wilmington Railroad Museum as having the record, with a train made up of 31 locomotives and 1,563 cars, measuring 925' 6". Chi-Town Union Station says in March of 2010, they "assembled and ran on a permanent indoor model railroad layout, with grades and curves, a train 1,112.06 feet in length consisting of 1205 cars and 26 locomotives," making it the world's largest and longest. You can clearly see the numbers are different, but both claims may be valid based on the scale of the miniature railroads (or, perhaps Chi-Town didn't get their measurements certified by Guinness).
Regardless, this layout is gigantic and worth the $5 admission price for railroad enthusiasts. Chi-Town Union Station is currently COVID-closed, but may reopen in October of 2021. In the meantime, take a look at the powerful locomotive and sprawling layout in the video below. Model trains have been oddly soothing during the pandemic, and you might agree. Swiss railroad hobbyist Magnus Hellstrom, quoted in the New York Times may have put it best, “Outside, there is total chaos, but inside, around my little train set, it is quiet, it is picturesque. It’s a little piece of a perfect world"
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