Grown Up And Successful, Local Businessman Still Plays With Trains

RENO, NV - The weather's good and the track is clear along the Alpine and Western Pacific Railroad.

On a given day rolling stock of various vintage, everything from the Santa Fe Super Chief to AMTRAK to a Swiss Sightseeing train might be seen on the line, rolling through a scenic landscape through tunnels, over bridges, past stations, the wail of the locomotive horn announcing its progress.

Forget for a moment you're standing in a yard in southwest Reno and it's easy to lose yourself in this make believe world.

Everything you see is the creation of local businessman Hawley MacLean.

One might assume all of this started with one of those train sets underneath the Christmas tree. His start was a little more advanced than that.

"My father was friends with Walt Disney and they used to build steam engines together back in Los Angeles," says MacLean. "So I grew up around trains all the time.."

And so today, he is captain of his own railroad empire, more than three thousand feet of track wandering around the grounds of his Arrowcreek home, even ducking inside, through a spiraling track emerging briefly along the wall of a game room.

"It combines history. It combines model making, electronics, engineering, all different kinds of crafts," says MacLean of his hobby.. "So, if you get bored doing one thing, switch and work on something else."

This weekend he'll be sharing all of this with the public. A stop on the Water and Rails Tour, an annual fundraiser for ALS of Nevada.

The event includes backyard ponds and railroads, MacLean has both, a waterfall cascading into a large pond at his front door. A number of koi fish lurk under a bridge..

"You can't have a railroad without a nice bridge."

Therefore he needed the pond.

In fact, if there weren't a tiny stream there would be little use for a triple arch stone bridge one of the trains is crossing.

It's the real deal by the way. It took most of a year to piece the 4,000 tiny stones together.

Seeing all of this, the passion, the appeal, needs little explanation.

Let's face it. It speaks to the little kid in all of us.

So, does anyone ever say, "Hawley, you're a successful businessman. Why are you still playing with trains?

"No, except you right now," he says laughing.

MacLean's model railroad and pond is just one stop on this Saturday and Sunday's Water and Rails Tour.

Tickets can be purchased at Rail City Gardens in Sparks or online at www.alsofnevada.org


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