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Al Key - DRC

Trains roll to benefit charity

Profile image for By Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe / Staff Writer
By Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe / Staff Writer
Steve Davis operates the controls of his model train exhibit Monday at his business, The Wood House, in Denton.Al Key - DRC
Steve Davis operates the controls of his model train exhibit Monday at his business, The Wood House, in Denton.
Al Key - DRC

When Steve Davis’ model train collection outgrew his home five or six years ago, he started bringing it to work, setting it up in a display room at his unfinished-furniture business, The Wood House.

Today, as he prepared for another season of holiday viewing, Davis’ hobby trains appear to be outgrowing the shop, too. This year, he added Mount Rushmore and three wind turbines in a nod to turbines installed at the University of North Texas’ Apogee Stadium.

“I need to put the UNT stickers on those,” he said.

Davis is running trains on four lines, along with a model monorail, and still has some of his collection in the warehouse and up on shelves. For the second year, Davis has opened his model train collection and display to the public for the benefit of Denton County Friends of the Family.

Friends of the Family was founded in 1980 to help individuals and families affected by rape, sexual abuse and domestic violence. In addition to providing protective shelter at its 32-bed facility, the agency offers programs to help address and reduce family violence.

Davis calls one line, filled with Disney characters, the Mickey Mouse train.

train 123

Both the monorail and the Mickey Mouse train race around a model town center, where many of the 40 miniature neon signs in his collection, such as Red Owl Grocery, Rexall Drugs and Krispy Kreme, flash and shine.

The display boasts a bobsled run, a ski lift and a miniature drive-in theater.

Two freight lines run on the outer edge of town, with model diesels pulling the Texas Special and the Santa Fe. They pull truck and freight cars, some from other well-known lines, such as the Frisco, the Cotton Belt and Union Pacific.

On the other side of the main display is a smaller one. In it, Davis has a smoky steam engine chugging along, pulling the California Zephyr.

Davis said it’s been fun watching children come and see the exhibit. Some are overwhelmed and peer at the exhibit through a window in the wall.

Last year, one boy came and stayed several hours. He finally told the boy’s mother he had to run an errand, so he had to close the shop.

“There’s a lot to see here,” Davis said.

Last year, the toy train exhibit provided about three truckloads of donations, Davis said.

The agency’s wish list includes food and non-food items. A complete list is available on the Friends of the Family website at

PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881. Her email address is .


•  What: Model train exhibit

•  Where: The Wood House, 516 N. Locust St.

•  When: 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays, or by appointment at 940-387-4098

•  Admission: Canned goods, such as fruits and vegetables; canned tuna, chunk chicken and ham; soups, chili, ravioli; crackers; meal kits; and sugar, flour, coffee, tea and soft drink mixes