I finally got to see the world’s finest model railroad, but…

As I drove along Main Street in Peabody yesterday, the first bad omen was the sight of the old-fashioned parking meters in front of the Franklin & South Manchester Railroad. Quarters only! The problem was that I no longer carry change, as the parking meters in Boston and Cambridge can be fed with a phone or a credit card.

What to do?

Well, I noticed that the next cross street was Park Street, so I logically figured that that meant that I could park there. And indeed I could! Free, legal parking.

Next step, literally and figuratively: climbing the steep flight of stairs to the amazing layout, which somehow I had never seen before. It’s a gigantic HO-scale model railroad, after all. Founder and owner George Sellios hand-crafted and weathered every structure, every scenery detail, the track, and every other detail. Although his portrayal of a run-down New England town in the Great Depression is mostly freelanced out of his own imagination rather than faithful to a particular prototype, it also manages to be incredibly realistic. Think Tolkien: yes, it’s fantasy, but the tremendously well-crafted details lend it all a real sense of verisimilitude. I took some representative photos (see below)—you’ll see that everything is true to the time and place, although the 22¢/gallon gasoline in the next-to-the-last photo seems a bit pricey. In most of the pictures you may want to zoom in, as it can be hard to spot the astonishing details.

If I stopped now, you would think that I left with a positive and enthusiastic feeling.

But then we come to my last three minutes.

As I was about to head out the door and down the narrow stairs, I looked at the display table next to the exit. I was appalled to see that it featured pro-Trump propaganda and evangelist literature! Maybe it’s unfair of me, but I totally turned me off and soured the whole experience for me.

Categories: Model Railroading