A group of Monarch Landing residents have quite a bit in common with rock legend Rod Stewart. Much like the music icon, these gentlemen have a passion for models…Model railroads that is. A long-time model train enthusiast, Rod Stewart has boasted about the 110-foot long train set in his Beverly Hills mansion. This only slightly exceeds the length of the model train track belonging to the DuPage Western Model Railroad (DWMRR) Club at Monarch Landing.
The DWMRR Club, which is completely resident-run, permits men (women are also welcome) to continue to pursue their lifelong love of trains. Monarch Landing gave the club what is affectionately called the “hall to nowhere” for their exclusive use. The 100-foot long corridor was originally slated to connect an addition to a building that was ultimately never constructed. “When they told us we could have this space, we quickly constructed bench work all the way down to the end of the room so that they couldn’t change their minds, or give any of the space to someone else,” said Charles (Chuck) Saville, one of the founders of the train club. To date, the first 14-foot section of the track is complete, including among other features, a waterfall, landscaping and a working roundhouse.
DWMRR’s room is decorated with photos and artwork of all things locomotive, most of which have been donated by fellow train enthusiasts. So too have the club’s hundreds of engines and train cars known as rolling stock, been donated by residents who came to Monarch Landing with their own enormous collections. “Probably 20 or so different families had train collections in their past, and didn’t get rid of them when they moved here, probably for sentimental reasons. The DWMRR seemed to be a good place for them to put them,” said Saville.
DWMRR has approximately seven active members and a number of avid followers.
Saville traces his own love of trains back to his childhood when his grandfather worked as a yardmaster. His father was an avid collector and along with Saville, constructed, dismantled, and reconstructed their models for their frequent moves throughout the country. Saville’s Lionel railroad equipment stayed with him through the years and he’s delighted to have a place in which to tinker at Monarch Landing.
Monarch Landing resident Ron Sellberg is officially retired from TTX, a leading provider of railcars, but still works as a consultant for the railway industry. Sellberg has just recently ventured into model railroading. “Formerly, my scale was 12 inches to the foot,” he quipped. “I have friends who have modeled for many many years. DWMR is a nice compliment to the community.”
Ron Barker is an avid observer of the DWMRR. “I’ve had an interest in trains because they’ve been in my life as long as I can remember. I’ve never done modeling but the attraction of being nearby and watching is what gets me,” he said. “What these guys have done is amazing. It’s so realistic and like going back in time.”
It’s also an outlet for honing the skills of the participants. “There’s a challenge, especially to do things such as the electronics and wiring. This helps keep us mentally active,” said Sellberg.
“It requires skill and dexterity. It keeps you sharp. Mentally and physically sharp,” said Saville.
It also keeps train enthusiasts mesmerized. “The DWMRR has been a great addition to our community. It has provided a gathering point and an outlet for many of the residents to share their experiences and memories of the days when the trains were the kings of transportation,” said Saville. “It provides an outlet for those of us who have model railroaded in the past; a place to share our skills and interests with our community.”
There’s no fear that DWMRR will run out of things to do. Saville insists that unless it’s part of a museum display, a model railroad is never complete. “A true model railroad is always a work in progress. If it is finished, you decide it’s not quite right so you tear it up and start over. It’s a lifetime project,” said Saville.