We?ve all had some fascination into the lives of the rich and famous, but have you ever wondered what they do for a hobby? Are they too cool to even have a hobby? Would you ever suspect a super rock star such as Rod Stewart to be linked to model railways??Well you?re in for a surprise! Many famous performers have a variety of hobbies. From fishing, cooking, ballroom dancing and many other types of hobbies which proves both interesting and enlightening.
Stewart is best known as the two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and a Living Grammy Legend. With a career that has spanned over 5 decades and still going strong. Many of us may have already asked the question; what does a guy like that do to unwind. It isn’t always secluded island getaways. While most of us have presumed the only models that Stewart was interested in were the tall blonde and leggy type; contrary to that popular belief, he has also developed a life long secret passion as a model railway enthusiast.?In fact, over the past 20 years, the iconic legend fanned his passion of trains by booking an extra hotel room while on the road, where in order to unwind and relax, he could continue to work on his railroad. That passion eventually led him to recreate Manhattan.
Tucked away in 1,500 sq. ft. the entire third floor of his California estate that exudes English Manor charm with a bit of Tuscany splendor, lies an HO-scaled model of New York?s Grand Central Station replicating 1940?s Manhattan.
Consisting of 44 platforms, 67 tracks, along with 13 trains that can run at once, is not your average model train set. With exquisite details right down to clock faces made from opals, to the Tiffany glass clock that?s part of the front of Grand Central station.
The world?s biggest magazine devoted to model railways, Model Railroader, has been privileged to feature Stewart?s pride and joy twice.He wrote to the famous magazine, considered by many to be the ?miniature train bible? about his finished work asking them, “as an avid reader of yours”, if they would publish photos of his train hobby.
Other notable rocker rail fans are Eric Clapton, Phil Collins and Roger Daltry. The allure of silver rails has reflected a passion of trains for ol? blue eyes himself, Frank Sinatra; Johnny Cash to Neil Young and many more. Model railroaders are on track when it comes to ribbons of steel!
Model train fascination has been around for over 100 years and shows no sign of stopping. In fact, quite the opposite.??Every person should have one hobby that really captures his interest.? Says Stewart, his passion for trains has got him working out buying his own steam engine.?And why not buy your own full size train if your passion is something you can share with others?
Well right here in Alberta, one man has done just that! Jason Thornhill of Aspen Crossing, has been creating a train themed destination here in rural southern Alberta for the past 12 years. As of May 2015 Thornhill dubbed affectionately by staff and friends as ?Walt of the Prairies?, had a 5 car diesel train depart from the Aspen Crossing Station with it?s first Inaugural excursion on 14 miles of track, that took 6 years of negotiation with CP to make it all happen.
The value of steel was worth a lot if ripped up for scrap metal, but when Thornhill learned there was a way to save the tracks and fulfill his vision of bringing family and friends together, to create cherished memories, he knew he had to try to save a part of history. Through tenacious determination Thornhill and his team secured the line for historical and cultural preservation.?Thornhill believes so strongly in preserving our history and heritage that in 2012 he even made a pitch for the Aspen Crossing Railway on the Dragons Den; the popular TV series where entrepreneurs pitch their business ideas.
While the Dragons loved the miniature train on the stage, they couldn?t share the full sized vision. They claimed that rural Alberta was too far?however, it?s actually in a very strategic location between two major cities on well maintained highways. It?s the equivalent distance of the average Canadian?s commute to work. The only difference being, it?s an extremely easy scenic drive which in itself, is worth the journey!
But despite their decision, 3 years later, Aspen Crossing Railway had their first season with 7 different themed excursions. The first season finished out with the famed and much beloved Christmas movie train, The Polar Express?. This makes Aspen Crossing, the 2nd location in all of Canada to be awarded the rights through Warner Bros. and Rail Events, to offer such a well renowned magical journey to the North Pole. Close to 10,000 people visited Aspen Crossing to make that magical journey in it?s first offering in 2015. Many families attended in their matching PJ?s specifically selected for the occasion. Some families consisted of 3 and 4 generations, ready to share and be a part of a new tradition and create cherished memories. There was also a very famous celebrity family onboard one of the trains! You just never know who you might bump into, whether it?s in the dining car or the train.
What?s next in the ever evolving train themed prairie oasis you ask? There are now 12 different train themed excursions to choose from. The size of the train has grown to include a dome car, kitchen car and two more additional dining cars. All excursions except the Dinner Theatre, has a train robbery performed by the Guns of the Golden West.
If you don?t know if trains are your thing, you?ll never know until you try. It could lead to a very fascinating journey. Always remember, it?s not about the destination!
?All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them?.
? Quote by Walt Disney
Visit Aspen Crossing!
Address: Highway #24, Mossleigh, AB T0L 1P0
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