By Railroad Model Craftsman Staff
Maine’s Seashore Trolley Museum has received a multi-million dollar donation to construct a brand new building to house a decades-old HO scale model railroad, it announced this week.
For decades, Helen and Harold “Buz” Beal of Jonesport, Maine, built and maintained what was believed to be one of the largest model railroads in the state. That layout, dubbed the “Maine Central Model Railroad,” featured numerous vistas of Maine, from lighthouses along the coast to the western mountains. It even has an exact replica of famous Maine author Stephen King’s Bangor home (The noted horror author provided designs of his house to the couple so they could model it).
Harold Beal passed away in 2013, but Helen continued to work on it and allow people to come and view it. Over the years, she explored the idea of donating the layout to a non-profit museum so that it could live on, but no museum was able to take on the layout in its entirety. In 2020, friend, rail enthusiast and philanthropist Hansjoerg Wyss approached the Seashore Trolley Museum to see if it was interested in the layout. Initially, the museum was unsure of how they could house it, but did additional research and determined if they could construct a brand new building to protect it, they could take it on. The museum put together a plan for a new building as well as ideas of how they would maintain it for at least a decade. The museum took the plan to Wyss who agreed to fund it to the tune of $2.6 million. It is the largest gift the 82-year-old trolley museum has ever received.
A model of Maine author Stephen King’s house is part of the layout.
The new model building design calls for a large, open space for the layout, office space for volunteers and staff, a combined workshop/conference room; a retail location so the museum can bring in additional revenue through model sales; and a mezzanine viewing gallery that has potential for community programming and other activities with elevator access. The location of the building will be across from the museum’s current Visitors Center.
The museum hopes to break ground in late spring/early summer 2022. After the building is complete, a professional model railroad layout moving company will help set up the layout in its new home.
For more information, visit trolleymuseum.org.