My interest in trains started in late 1941 when I was only one year old. My father had an interest in railroads and wanted me to be acquainted with trains and train people since the New York Central ran along the back of our property. He would hold me in his arms and we would wave at the Southwest Limited each day. It passed early in the morning and again in the evening. During the spring, summer and fall in daylight when the train passed, we would stand on our back patio and wave. In the late fall and winter, we would wave a lantern from a window as the train passed.

Noel and Pop in 1941.

Noel on the fence watching a NYC Mikado passing behind the house.

One day in 1942, while we were waving at the train, my dad noticed that the engineer threw something from the engine. Pop climbed over the back fence and picked up a newspaper lying on the ground. It was a copy of the Muncie Star with an article about the locomotive crew on the Southwest Limited. The Star reporter referred to the fact that little boys loved to wave at trains and that a particular little boy and his father always waved at this train. The engineer included a note with his name, phone number and an invitation for us to contact him. This started a friendship that lasted until the engineer, Roy Stieg’s death in 1959.

Muncie Star article featuring Noel’s engineer friend.

Mr. Stieg became my hero. We visited his house and farm in Bellefontaine, Ohio and he visited our home near Anderson, Indiana many times over seventeen years. Mr. Stieg invited my dad and me to ride with him in the cab of NYC Hudsons and E-8’s between Anderson and Indianapolis. Other times, we would just visit with him while he awaited passenger loading in Anderson where the Southwest Limited stopped twice a day.

My dad also bought me an American Flyer train set for my fifth Christmas. It had a K-4 Pacific that my dad lettered as a New York Central loco. I didn’t find out that it was really a Pennsylvania loco until I was in my teens.

American Flyer GP-9
K-4 Pacific

I played with the American Flyer trains for several years until I began collecting HO scale trains in my late teens. After going in the Air Force, I began to build and collect HO and built my first layout soon after my son David was born. Together, we built several HO layouts as we moved around the US while I was in the Air Force. As my son entered his middle teens, I lost interest in railroads and soon my last HO layout sat unused in the basement.

My interest in trains peaked again when a couple of people who worked for me were interested in trains. One day my wife and I were in a hobby shop and I saw a Large Scale locomotive for the first time. It was an Aristo Craft FA and I couldn't get over the sensation I had when I picked it up. It reminded me of the feeling I had as a child when I picked up one of my American Flyer locos. The relative size and weight felt very familiar. I was hooked, but because my wife didn’t seem too happy that I was thinking about getting back into trains, I didn’t buy the engine. Imagine my surprise a few weeks later when she presented me with the FA. That started my return to model railroading. I began to buy and collect locomotives and rolling stock but had no place to run them. I joined Train Collectors of America and started going to the York TCA train show in April and October each year. I was pleased to see that there were some Large Scale trains and manufacturers at the show.

In 1997 my wife and I designed and built a new home in Shady Side, Maryland. It was built on a lot on the West River where it flows into the Chesapeake Bay. This was to be our retirement home, so when we were working with the architect designing the house, I added a very large room over the two-car garage to house my Large Scale railroad. I made it 28’ X 42’ and that seemed like a huge area for trains. I now realize that no matter how much room we set aside for trains, it is never enough.

Noel and guests behind scratchbuilt roundhouse and turntable.

After I had my indoor railroad up and running, my wife persuaded me to build an outdoor one. I hired a contractor to build a raised bed for the railroad. I laid the track and wired it. It is a narrow gauge railroad set in the mid to late 1930’s and located in Indiana. It is called the KKL & ME for my granddaughters, Kristin, Katie, Leah, Morgan and Erica. I also have an interurban line that represents the Indiana Railroad (IRR) that really existed.

I also love to watch and ride trains. Ann and I have ridden trains all over the United States and Canada. Our summer vacations always include a train ride somewhere. One summer I even worked for a week on the Cumbrees & Toltec Railroad and got to play engineer and fireman for about an hour on one of the narrow gauge Mikados.

Noel in Cumbries & Toltec Railroad #497.

I have included several pictures of the trains we have ridden over the years and some of those I viewed in museums.

The White Pass & Yukon Railroad rounds a bend crossing a trestle in the mountains of Alaska.
White Pass & Yukon diesels working hard (note the snowplows).
Alaska Railroad diesels waiting to leave Denali National Park.

The Amtrak Capital Limited observation car on the way to Chicago.
The Capital Limited stopped in Elkhart, Indiana.
The New York Central Railroad Museum in Elkhart.
Noel in the engineer’s seat of a New York Central E-8 at the museum.
The Amtrak Empire Builder stopped in Minot, North Dakota on our way to Seattle.
The peat bog in Ireland. They use the locos to pull tourists to visit the peat bogs.
A couple of commuter cars stored on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.
Ann standing in one of the cabooses used as a bed and breakfast in Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia.
Preparing to board the locomotive at the Strasburg, Railroad.
Inside the buildings at the Pennsylvania Railroad Museum.
The Amtrak Empire Builder arriving in Edmonds, Washington.
A coach converted to a tearoom in Scotland.
Two coaches on a siding in Scotland. Grand Canyon Railroad FPA-4 ready to leave Williams, Arizona with the “Polar Express”.
An ATSF speeder at the Williams depot. The regularly scheduled Grand Canyon Railroad F-40FH and passenger cars prepare to leave Williams for the three-hour trip to the Grand Canyon. The railroad station at the Grand Canyon National Park. A view inside the observation car on the Grand Canyon Railroad. Remnants of the Newfoundland Railroad. Not scrap metal, but without some care and work they will be. Preserved and painted loco and plow in a park in Newfoundland. The caboose in the same park. The Newfoundland Railroad became a part of the Canadian National Railroad.