Once upon a time...

...way back in 1968, a six-year old boy, like so many before him, asked for a train set for Christmas.

And sure enough, come Christmas morning there it was, set up just in front of the tree – a neat little circle of 18” radius track.

On that track was a B&O F unit, trailed by an orange box car, a silver tank car, a red gondola (with coal load!), a black hopper and – of course – a red caboose.

And then his parents showed him why the basement door had been locked these past two months.

Christmas 1968: A boy's first pikeThere, in the far corner, was the most amazing thing he had ever seen: a layout (or pike as they were more commonly called then) that seemed to encompass the entire world.

There was a mountain, and tunnels (of course). There was a bridge, and a farm house (with pigs and a cow in the yard!). There was a mine shaft up on the side of the mountain. There was an orchard. And there was a town – an intricate maze of shops and homes and businesses and automobiles.

And then there was the yard.

Tracks upon tracks upon tracks. Two engine houses. A round table! Freight cars everywhere! And in the middle of it all, a magnificent wooden coaling tower – with a tiny staircase winding up its side!

Wow. He stood on a chair, trying to take it all in.

That boy was (okay, still is) me, Craig Cooper, founding partner of Dallas Model Works.

My parents had bought the pike from the gentleman who had built it. He had grown too old and had decided to pass it on.

(And he must have been truly ancient, because – really – who is too old for model trains?)

My parents disassembled his life’s handiwork, carted it to our home and, unbeknownst to my sister or me, reassembled it in our basement.

It was great! It was fantastic! Except my Dad never could figure out the wiring.

I pushed trains around the rails for a few years and then my parents decided to renovate the basement. Out came the crowbars and another flag was fallen; another railroad passed into legend.

But I kept all those buildings. I kept all that rolling stock. I put them all into boxes.

One day, I thought, one day…

Ford MUTTAt 11, I became an avid modeler, honing my skills in the world of armour modeling, developing not just the ability to glue bits of styrene together, but to modify it. To weather it. To do the research and improve it.

And even though I was building tanks instead of tank cars, it was dioramas in particular that rocked my imagination. Dioramas were more than just an expertly crafted model; dioramas told a story.

And what’s a model railroad but a really, really big diorama?

Years passed, I moved. I moved again. And again. I got married. We had a son. We became pregnant once more and needed a bigger house. We bought one – one with a really, really big basement.

And I still had those boxes.Okay, it wasn't just tanks – I built some rolling stock, too.

Thus was born the Mount Penelope Railroad – and the genesis of many of the Dallas Model Works products you will find on these dallasmodelworks.com pages.

Our goal is to bring the ultimate in realism to model railroading.

Certainly, prototypically accurate models along with operations based on prototypical practices have always been a big part of making model railroading so much more than just “playing with trains.”

In recent years, the widespread availability of fine scale models and the advent of DCC and sound, in particular, have been major steps forward in the quest for ultimate realism.

But I’ve always felt something was missing.

Railroads have one purpose: to move freight. (Okay – passengers, too. But are they not, in a sense, really just another form of freight?)

No matter how accurate our models, no matter how precise our operations, we’ve pretty much always had to pretend that our freight cars are loading and unloading cargo.

At Dallas Model Works, our aim is to break through this last barrier to realism with products that will indeed actually load and unload your freight cars.

Hence, the introduction of our first product, the Industrial Flat Car Loader, and all of our products that will follow.

Exciting times are ahead, we hope you’ll enjoy the ride.