In Jonesport, Maine, 83-year-old Helen Beal continues to operate the model railroad she and her husband built and assembled by hand.
Helen and her husband Harold (a.k.a. “Buz”) spent 20 years assembling the impressive HO Scale model railroad. Buz had loved trains all of his life, so he and his wife decided to expand upon his hobby. Piece by piece, they spent the cold winter months constructing houses, train depots, and miniatures of buildings they admired from collected photographs. They continued to install new features on the custom 900-square-foot raised platform next to their home until Buz passed away in 2012 at the age of 75.
Helen and Buz allowed visitors to their railroad, and even now Helen still smiles when she starts up the train for groups of tourists. In one corner of the room there are maps where Helen encourages visitors to put a pin in the country or town where they’re from. Visitors from all 50 states and many other countries have stopped by over the years.
The craftsmanship and the layout are beautiful. Modern high-rises blend with long-gone train depots and attentive visitors can even find a model of Stephen King’s house built from photographs provided by the author himself. Other features include tiny rafters enjoying a ride down a river, miniature cars both modern and antique parked in neighboring driveways, and Helen’s favorite spot, a secluded house on the hill in the far corner.
Helen is hopeful that a museum will want to take the railroad someday. It would be a beautiful addition to any collection.
Update as of February 2022: The model is being relocated and will reopen in spring 2023.
Know Before You Go
There is parking available and a sign asking visitors to knock on the house door if nobody is in the train building. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated.