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DeWinton hobbyist selling home with massive model train layout

A train hobbyist built an impressive model train layout over 25 years, with tracks inside and outside of his home.

It’s the end of the line for a Foothills County model train hobbyist. 

Over the last 25 years, Barrie Roberts built an impressive model train layout, with tracks laid inside and outside of his home in DeWinton. 

“Men like myself are absorbed in this,” Roberts said. “You can get carried away, and I think I have.” 

In his 70s and in a wheelchair, Roberts made the difficult decision to put the acreage, and all the train paraphernalia, up for sale

The G-gauge layout inside the basement is museum quality and takes up about 1,000 square feet over two rooms, he said. 

“We've decided that maybe it's time to downsize and move on,” he said. “If I hold off on to this place too long, it's going to be a big mess for my wife.” 

In 1974, his parents built the house. Roberts bought it 25 years ago and has been making additions ever since. 

He said the basement is spectacular, and additions outside include a western boardwalk and a 1,000-square-foot building named after a town in Alaska. 

“The Skagway building, that's another 1,000 square feet, and the (train) layout outside, it's huge,” he said. 

Painstakingly put together by Roberts, the indoor layout is complete with scenery, trees, trestles, bridges, a waterfall and buildings, including a sawmill with a working crane. 

“The hobby is not just about running trains, the hobby is everything else,” Roberts said. “You can just let your mind go and be creative.” 

He said the train cars, some of them custom made, and Shay and Climax locomotives will stay.  

The trains are run by several control panels, and Roberts wrote an operator’s manual for whoever decides to take over the property. 

“If I do sell a place, I can offer my services on an ongoing basis to come and participate and help,” he said. 

For years, Roberts opened the property to visitors on Canada Day, getting to the point where 800 people would visit in one day. 

“It’s a beautiful place," he said. "My heart’s here but I can’t stay forever."

Robert Korotyszyn

About the Author: Robert Korotyszyn

Robert Korotyszyn covers Okotoks and Foothills County news for and the Western Wheel newspaper. For story tips contact [email protected]
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