Someone You Should Know: Love of model railroading

Published: Apr. 26, 2023 at 5:19 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - In the basement of his Sioux Falls home, Jim Krekelberg works with model trains.

“It’s kind of a relaxing hobby. Instead of watching television at night, I can come down here and work on a model and give some thought to what the next phase is going to be,” said Jim.

“He used to work a lot of hours when he was working. So this was kind of his getaway. Since he retired, it’s been a blessing for him because it gives him something to do,” said Jim’s wife Doris.

Jim developed an interest in trains at a young age.

“Well, I think it really started back in my teens. My dad worked for the Chicago-Northwestern here in Sioux Falls. And I used to work downtown during high school and college. Woolworths was a store downtown. When I got my paycheck, I would run down to Woolworths and buy a car or two,” said Jim.

Years later, with some of those cars he got at Woolworths, he took the hobby to the next level.

“So I started to build a layout. And I actually went to a community ed class on model railroading,” said Jim.

That layout is now fifteen years in the making.

“Originally, I intended to only have the one level. As we progressed, I said, ‘Let’s try something different,’ so I built a helix and put on a second level here. Everything on here has been built. Whether it’s the models, scratch built, track lane, the nice thing about it is it’s really kind of designed where I can run them circular, like we are doing right now, or just run continuous. Or I’ll actually shut off certain tracks, so we can have them run back and forth. I think I’ve had up to seven on here running. Each one has a throttle that can run each engine, so I can speed it up and make sounds,” said Jim.

Jim is active in the Dakota Southeastern Division’s Model Railroad Club, which put on shows throughout the region. The club members also get together to work with the home layouts.

“There’s actually seven towns on the layout here, and each one has a set of different industries and different tasks to do. So we actually have a dispatcher, and we’ll have four or five members come over, and the dispatcher will give them instructions to run Train 832 from Beaverton to Portsmith. And they’re instructed to drop off X number of cars at Portsmith and pick up a few more cars and go to the next town. It’s about a three-hour commitment of time to do that,” said Jim.

“He enjoys the comradery with his other train people. He hates it when I say, ‘Are you going to go play with your train boys today?’” said Doris.

He has plenty of time to play, now retired after working more than thirty years in accounting at Good Sam. And his display will keep getting better.

“Yes, I just want to keep adding to it, doing more scenery. I eventually want to add lights and more sound features to the layout, just to bring it to life a little bit more,” said Jim.

He also said his grandkids really enjoy it.