Signal Maintainer Never Tires of Trains
Doug Wodhams is all about trains. The longtime railroader and a signal maintainer for PNR RailWorks maintains a model railroad that fills the back and side yard of his home near Toronto, ON.
Some people leave work and look for escapes unrelated to their jobs. PNR RailWorks’ Doug Wodhams is not one of those people. When the signal maintainer isn’t keeping customers’ trains running, he is maintaining his own extensive model railroad.
Doug lives in the community of Holland Landing, ON, on the northern edge of the Toronto metropolitan area. More than 100 feet of track, trimmed during the good-weather months with a miniature station, engine house, a handmade wooden truss bridge, travelers and more, adorn the back and side yards surrounding Doug’s house. He began building the railroad in 2008 after determining that “a railway was a natural fit with the landscaping,” and he steadily adds on each year. The track starts out in front of the house with a small train yard and sidings and continues along the west side to the back yard, where it encircles a lily pond. “And I’ve started up the east side,” Doug says, “(so it’s in) a U-shape, if you will.”
His infatuation with trains was sparked as a boy, when his father gave him his first model train. “I remember a Lionel trainset” Doug says, “an HO (a model that is 1/87 the size of a real train) that came along in the ‘60s.” In addition, he says his grandparents lived near the CN Newmarket Subdivision, south of the St. Clair station, “so you could say I was inducted early.”
Today, Doug owns a large-scale “garden” railroad, designed to endure the elements outside. In contrast to his early HO scale train, Doug’s present-day train is a G scale, with cars about 1/22 the size of those on standard trains, or around 30-38cm (12-15 inches). The track gauge is about 45mm (1.7 inches).
Rolling stock of all types includes Aristo-Craft, Bachmann and USA Trains brands. He favors engines of the American Locomotive Company (ALCO)-Montreal Locomotive Works (MLW) heritage “because they had a rough, unique sound.” One engine features an emblem used for a short time by CN, before it adopted the maple leaf symbol in the ‘50s.
A train enthusiast through and through, Doug reflects his hobby not only outside his home but inside, too. Train tickets and train magazines feature prominently in the décor.
People who’ve heard about the elaborate setup come by, often with children and especially in the summer. A few print and broadcast media reporters have called for tours and interviews. During the winter months, Doug brings much of the accessories indoors to protect them. He uses the time to research and to plan for upgrades and expansions. He’s considering adding buildings and finishing some scenes, and is pondering a segment that would extend the existing track until it looped fully around the house.