As mentioned in my weekend column in The Baltimore Sun:
The newest addition to the B&O Railroad Museum is a large model train layout of Baltimore landmarks — Oriole Park (on the day of a Baltimore-Seattle playoff game in 1997), the Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower, the World Trade Center, the Lord Baltimore Hotel, the Hippodrome Theater, Pimlico Race Course (on the day of the Preakness 1997), the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, Penn Station, Sherwood Gardens, large homes and modest rowhouses. It’s the extravagantly detailed creation, in HO scale, of Jeff Springer’s Baltimore-based Custom Model Railroads. This, you gotta see.
Mr. Springer created the model train tableau for a private home about four years ago. An anonymous donor — I assume Springer’s customer — donated the layout to the museum and Bank of America provided additional funding. The display is permanent and opens to the public on Dec. 6, just in time for the Holiday Festival of Trains.
Mr. Springer studied graphic design at the Maryland Institute College of Art and established his company 30 years ago. He’s been making a living from his boyhood hobby ever since.
There is impressive detail in the buildings that the CSX and Amtrak model trains pass during their runs. Mr. Springer and his team start with white plastic and, based on black-and-white photographs, a laser engraving process creates the facades of familiar Baltimore buildings — the Cathedral is particularly impressive — and Mr. Springer and his team add paint. (When he started his business, Mr. Springer would use “card stock and an exacto knife” to create buildings and other scenery.)
While three-dimensional figurines populate Mr. Springer’s Baltimore — make sure you check out the crowd at the Preakness — the company needed to use stick figures to fill Camden Yards for the Orioles’ Oct. 5, 1997 playoff game with the Mariners. College interns at Custom Model Railroads hand-painted each of 21,000 stick figures. (Oriole Park actually seated 48,079 in 1997, but let’s not get too picky about this.)
One other fine point: Mr. Springer’s Preakness has the horses at Pimlico’s first turn and, he says, the horses are aligned exactly as they appeared at that point in the race. (Silver Charm, with Gary Stephens up, won that year.)
There’s even more to see at the B&O museum now, and there are plans to expand the model train gallery to include more Baltimore locations. Here’s a link to the museum’s website and calendar of events.