Elaine Silets, "The Train Lady"®
President, Huff & Puff Industries, Ltd.
Building The Great Wandering Tree Layout at the Harvey M. Silets Memorial Train Museum
An introduction to the wide variety of Model RR & Garden Railways at the Harvey M. Silets Memorial Train Museum.
The Process of Creating a Private Train Museum
Starting in 2003, we began the process of building a private Model Railroad Museum to house and operate an extensive train collection. The building itself is an authentic replica of the famous Rico Station. It was finished at the end of 2003 and work then began on the design and manufacture of the layout within.
The theme of the layout is a visual trip through the City of Chicago, downstate Illinois farming and logging, and the oil refineries of South Chicago and Northern Indiana.
The Great Wandering Tree Railroad took over two years to complete, with a team of seven, plus Elaine Silets, "The Train Lady"®, who designed and directed her crew on all aspects of the creation and installation of the layout.
This railroad contains: 60 switches, (turnouts), 64 blocks, 2 interactive freight and passenger yards, 61 automations, a missile silo hidden under a city park, 2 custom lift bridges, and a complete prototypical signaling system. It required 36,000, lineal feet of wire and is powered by 8 transformers. The Wandering Tree RR operates 16 trains, 2 trolleys, operating truck and car roadways, an operating drive-in movie theatre, 2 elevated trains, 2 subway trains, 2 helixes, and 54 interactive automations.
Perhaps the most intriguing part of this Model Railroad are the four miniature cameras installed in four of the engines, that project moving images on 4 flat screen televisions in the control booth. This allows the operating engineer the illusion of actually driving each train from the cab.
If you would like to see a demonstration of the processes involved in the conception, construction special features including a fanciful interpretation of Chicago's Union Station, Millennium and Grant Parks, the Art Institute, as well as Goose Island with the Morton Salt Sheds and The Chicago Tribune printing plant.
To see how this incredible museum came into being, view the Slide Show.