Tom Levens

My interest in model trains like many my age began back in the 1950’s. My family had trains running in the basement of our home. The trains were Lionel and setup year round in a special room in the basement. I think we were able to run two trains on two separate loops with a few switches. Those were the days.

There is some real life railroading in my family history so I can say, “it’s in my DNA”. Auther M. Levens, my Grandfather and one of his brothers worked for the Milwaukee Road. My Grandfather after 50 years service retired as the Head Conductor of the Olympian Hiawatha. My Dad, Joseph A. Levens, also worked for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. Dad began work for the B&O around 1947 at the Mount Clare Shops in Baltimore, MD as a chemist; and moved to Cumberland, MD in 1953 as Eastern Regional Motive Power Inspector responsible for 638 locomotives. I can remember as a young child getting to go with my father on some Saturdays to the engine repair shops in Cumberland. Cumberland was a major operations / maintenance center for the B&O. After 11 years service in 1958 Dad left the railroad. Our interest with model trains dwindled when I became a teenager; and the trains were put away.

When Dad reached retirement age we thought model trains would be something we could do together. So we built an HO layout together in one of the back bedrooms in my home here in Dallas, Texas. We wanted to model the B&O Cumberland, Maryland operations in the late steam diesel time frame. This is where we both had memories, and there were many very interesting B&O railroading things going on in and around Cumberland. We are currently interested in S Scale.

Also, we have gotten involved with a weekly Friday brunch group of men who are interested in model railroading. I consider these people the heavy weights of model railroading in the Dallas area. It is not unusual to have several Master Model Railroaders in attendance. There is a wealth of information that we have been able to gather about model railroading. We have been going to this gathering for about 20 years. And anyone who has interest in trains is welcome.

The railroad brunch bunch is where we were first exposed to model railroad operating sessions and proto-type model building. We operated for the first time on the late Cliff Robinson’s legendary MUT Lines. And we discussed proto-type model building for the first time with railroad author and modeler Lloyd Keyser, who really does build exact replicas. We learned that this hobby has many very different dimensions. The lunch bunch is where I met Duane Richardson, Lead Designer for TML Models. And most important, we have made some very wonderful friendships because of the hobby.

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