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Updated by Jackie Gilligan  May 15, 2017 (

When I am not playing pickleball, most of my time is spent one way or another on trains. Some say I am obsessed, I prefer focused. My model train hobby started when I was 10 and received a Lionel 5-car freight train. Dad bought a couple switches, a cattle loader car and log loader accessory. This was setup on a 4X8 plywood in the attic. At various times I have started layouts, but moving and space limitations have kept me from really getting something done. My last working layout was a 12ft long computer controlled double-loop across the mantle in the family room. I had to take it down, as my "boys" (cats) like to get up there and that just didn't work out. I do have a large scale train running around the Christmas tree that they like watching, and do not mess with it.

I was planning on using this mantle layout as part of the new train room (17’ X 16’) in the basement, but as I mature, the smaller scales (N gauge) have become increasingly difficult to work with. I am now in the construction stage of an HO layout of a portion of the Great Northern RR from about the late 40’s. This was the time I remember doing my first trainspotting, as my grandmother had an apartment that overlooked a switch yard in Morris Minnesota. Since my background has been electronics and computers, they will play a large part in the operating of the layout.

But modeling is not the only part of the hobby. Linda and I have ridden the tourist railroads in Colorado, New Mexico, California and Oregon, and also some out east during our trip to New England this past Fall. We have also taken many Amtrak trips, including one from Denver-San Francisco-Seattle-Chicago-Denver just for a one week "train vacation". Having grown up during the steam engine era, I have a particular interest in those iron horses and the equipment it took to keep them running. But any train is a good one for "trainspotting" and keeps us busy on our road trips.

Don Peterson 

When I’m Not Playing Pickleball

Don Peterson - Everything Trains