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Train Village: A local man’s hobby

Article Date: 
6 January, 2012 (All day)

We have all admired the adored Christmas Villages with the collected houses and shops arranged in streets with lamp posts and trees. I had been assigned to write about a Train Village. No one could prepare me for the village I was about to see.

Invited in to the home of Ray and Malinda Carter, then directed to their basement, where it has been transformed one room at a time into a train village.

To set the mood of going back in time, displayed were some old time decor including an old type telephone and , some memorabilia of t old town Devil’s Slide and old Union Pacific Railroad signs among other things.

Ray has incorporated a village of Morgan, of Devil’s Slide, and of Echo. The train tracks are connected paths and tunnels that lead you from not only one village to another but in some paths take the trains from one room to another. The only room in the basement not occupied by trains is the guest room. The construction of these villages, began soon after the Carters built their home in Morgan, in 1979. The family room, seventeen years ago, was where Ray first started to work on his train village with Weber Canyon ... Utah Power Plant.... Horseshoe Bend...the road ways, mountains, tunnels, bridges and riverbeds, as it was back in the 1960’s.

He said the 1960’s was the era he selected for all the villages, with HO scale size of train*. He credited a lot of his buildings and business signs from books and photographs from the Morgan Historical Society, and pictures on old Union Pacific Railroad Calendars. His daughter, helped to scale the signs into decals to fit the buildings.

He has had a fascination with trains as far back, as he can remember. When he was a boy he had a small electric train set, but he recalls, “I only had it for a while, till one of my brothers, that liked to tear things apart to see how they work, got a hold of it.”

Though his sibling didn’t encourage his love for trains, in 1973, Ray started to work for the Santa Fe Railroad in Albuquerque, New Mexico, as a electrician on the locomotive. He later hired on with Union Pacific Railroad, in Oregon in 1976, and then in 1978 he was transferred to Utah.

The train village begins (in the family room)at Weber Canyon  with the old highway and power plant, then through a tunnel (a closet) to Keddie ‘Y’ track(that is a certain track where the railroad splits into a ‘Y’) in Feather River Canyon, California with a bridge, a deep ravine, mountains, around about the Feather River.

Then through another tunnel (the wall into what use to be one of his daughters’ bedrooms), to Morgan, Utah Poultry & Farmer Co-operative, some of Commerical Street”s business section and Morgan’s Train Depot. 

Then the traveling train moves through a tunnel then on a bridge near Taggart’s, then on to Devil’s Slide depicting the small homes that were there all in a row and side by side, and a little farther there sits a replica of the old Cement Plant. Following the tracks to Echo, Curvo, and Wasatch Train Stations leading to Evanston, Wyoming. 

While visiting with the Carters, Ray had two locomotives going on separate tracks opposite directions, it was great to watch them pass without colliding.  Since he put this all together, Ray said, he has only one derailment.

I asked him about guided tours. Though he doesn’t feel he can offer tours right now, Ray has done one group tour, that was for Union Pacific Historical Society, which they asked to see his train village. He has been a member of the society for seven years.

Maybe after he retires, Ray said, he could share his hobby with the community and interested individuals. He explained, It’s not something you can share with little children, too much is invested to take that chance of something getting damaged.

He works at his hobby a couple hours a week, Ray said maybe a little more in the winter and less in the summer. 

Working with Union Pacific has helped him with the details of the locomotive and train cars. 

He has purchased the trains and accessories from Union Station Gift Store; The Train Store in Ogden; swap meets; auctions; E-bay; Hostler’s Club Train Shows, and other train shows, where he buys things for his village and where he also gets ideas of how to enhance the operations of his trains.

For train shows he has traveled to include Evanston, WY; Idaho Falls,ID; Helena, MT; Southern California, and a favorite hobby shop in Colorado.

This love of trains Ray shares with his family. His wife, Malinda smiled while saying, It’s his hobby . . . at least I know where he is most of the time.” They mainly have daughters and granddaughters,who you wouldn’t think would be interested, but when it comes to train rides its a family activity.

The Carters have experienced such train rides, as to Silverton, CO; Cumbres Coaltec Railroad through New Mexico and Colorado; Georgetown Loop, CO, and five or six times they have taken their granddaughters on the Heber Creeper on Grandparents Day. They mentioned they have rode the Front Runner once, just to see what it was like.

* The HO Scale. Scale, whether in die-cast cars or model trains, relates directly to the real thing. In the case of HO trains, they are 1/87 the size of a life-size locomotive. These trains sacrifice size while maintaining realism. Read more: What Does the Ho Scale Mean on Model Trains? on