The Museum of the American Railroad’s Frisco attraction, TrainTopia, opened to the public on July 18, 2018.
The only one of its kind in the country, the model train collection was donated to the Museum by Jane Sanders and her daughters. Jane and her late husband, Steve, had a hobby shop in North Dallas, and Steve started collecting the trains. Jane says the collection reflects stages and places in Steve’s life, from summer camps in Colorado, to New Mexico, Arizona, Corsicana and back to Dallas. Sanders says,
This layout is Steve’s life. It’s a history lesson, a geography lesson and it’s all about the trains. Steve would be thrilled because he wanted a lot of people to see his trains.
With an estimated value of more than $1 million, TrainTopia is a G-scale model train set with a one inch to one foot ratio and has six precision trains that run simultaneously. The layout spans Arizona to Texas, with dramatic rock formations of the Four Corners region near New Mexico, to a thriving Northeast Texas in the early 1960s.
There’s an animated downtown Dallas street scene, including a bustling Union Station, the famed Palo Duro Drive-In Theatre, West Texas refineries, and working sawmills in the mountains of Colorado, plus over 200 cars and locomotives throughout the exhibit.
Mayor Jeff Cheney has been watching the journey of the Museum of the American Railroad make its way to Frisco for a decade now and notes the deep connection with the city. Cheney shared,
The rail industry is in our city’s logo. It truly reflects who we are as a city. I loved trains when I was a kid. This exhibit is about kids who will be able to enjoy this extraordinary gift in Frisco.
Brint Ryan’s great-grandfather was a boiler man on the railroad from 1887-1900, thus connecting his own childhood interest in trains to his family’s history. Ryan says,
The Railroad is in our blood. I love Texas because of the railroad, and I wanted to give the gift to future generations to enjoy. It’s important to share our heritage.
The journey the train collection took from the Sanders’ home in Dallas to the 3,000 square foot space in Frisco was not easy. The team who executed the move has logged more than 1,060 hours to disassemble, relocate and set up the 570 pieces and display that span approximately a quarter of a mile long.
Call it a labor of love combined with respect and passion for upholding the history in these small but powerful pieces, the Sanders family, the Museum staff, the City of Frisco, the engineers and the contractors have played their part in making TrainTopia come to life.
TrainTopia is located within the Frisco Discovery Center at 8004 North Dallas Parkway, Frisco, TX. The hours of operation are Wednesday through Saturday from 10am to 5pm and Sunday from 1pm to 5pm. Ticket prices are $8 for adults and $4 for children. To purchase tickets in advance, visit www.HistoricTrains.org, or tickets may also be purchased in person at the Discovery Center.