ROSSVILLE — Dewain Moore grew up near railroad tracks on Illinois Route 49, and those passing trains captured his imagination.
“You don’t have to work on the railroad to be a fanatic,” said Moore, who retired from farming after 47 years.
Moore has channeled his passion for trains into an elaborate hobby, one that has attracted other enthusiasts to his home in rural Rossville for years. His vast collection is housed in a two-floor building, complete with an elevator, behind his home.
He and his wife, Marilyn, have decided to have an open house for the holidays so people can enjoy the collection. The train building will be open every Saturday and Sunday through December, starting Nov. 24. There is no admission, but people are asked to bring an item for a food pantry.
People also are welcome to make an appointment to see the collection.
The couple enjoys showing off the G-scale (1/24th) layouts, with all of their accompanying scenery and miniatures. Besides the tracks and the layouts, the couple has numerous train-related and Western items decorating the walls, on shelves and in glass cases.
A rotating Christmas tree in one corner is decorated with little train cars, striped workman gloves, and some items made by Marilyn. “I like making little things and telling a story,” she said.
On the second floor, some of the scenes feature her handiwork. A wheat field, for example, was made from broom bristles, and a cornfield was made from plastic grass and straws.
Dewain joked that he does the mechanics and Marilyn “does the piddling.”
Dewain has been collecting railroad items for 15-20 years, displaying them in his home. However, Marilyn said, “One day, I decided I wanted it out of the dining room.”
The Moores built the 24-by-36-foot garage in 2002 to display the collection, and their son, Kevin, built the elevator that takes visitors (two at a time) to the second floor and back.