October 1, 2016

Warren’s Train Shop in Ogden

Warren's Train Shop, located inside Union Station in Ogden

Warren’s Train Shop, located inside Union Station in Ogden

It’s tough to think of any better place in this state to own and operate a model train shop than the Union Station in Ogden. The majestic building once marked the junction of railroading in the Intermountain West.

Even though passenger trains no longer chug through town, Ogden’s rich railroad history remains. The tracks put this place on the map for better and for worse, bringing increased commerce and an influx of interesting characters and opening the floodgates for rampant prostitution and drunken debauchery until the city decided to crack down on crime.

One of the happier, little kawinkydinks to result from the emergence of the railroad has been Warren’s Train Shop. Warren and Dee Holmgren opened this shop in the Union Station in 1986 and ran it for about 20 consecutive years.

After a brief break from the business, Warren regained control of the shop with three partners — Rob Bruening, Rick Glismann and Daniel Caballero — in 2008 and it’s been growing nicely ever since.

In fact, at the beginning of next year, the four partners are planning to expand and move their store into another Union Station space that is more than double the size of their current quarters. That’s good news for die-hard hobbyists because it will free up room for a larger in-store product offering.

With the shop’s current space limitations, it has focused mostly on HO scale model trains — which are 1/87th of the size of the actual trains they represent and are quite popular because of their remarkable resemblance to real locomotives.

Warren’s Train Shop has always been committed to providing its customers with the models, supplies and accessories they desire and it often places special orders to meet the needs of local enthusiasts.

Collectors from across the globe, including Australia, Japan and the Arab nations, also purchase model trains and supplies from the shop’s eBay store and its website.

The locomotives in stock range in price from about $65 to $400. A well-heeled collector might pay up to $2,000 for a limited-edition handcrafted brass model.

By and large, though, this isn’t really a rich man’s hobby. At least not in Ogden, where many hobbyists are middle-age men who tend to live on the blue collar side of the tracks.

These guys are craftsmen, outdoorsmen, operators of heavy machinery … and they get as giddy as little schoolgirls whenever an opportunity presents itself for them to create something with their strong, weathered hands.

“The joy of the hobby is not in the acquiring of model train sets. It’s in the time you spend building something extraordinary,” Daniel Caballero says. “When I was a child, we rode the train from Los Angeles to San Francisco to visit family. Many of us, as adult hobbyists, are building things to represent some of what we experienced as kids.”

Some of these guys actually construct entire railroad ecosystems, including trains, tracks, scenery, houses and even coal mines. It wouldn’t be that surprising if some of them go so far as to strategically place tiny, little canaries in their tiny, little coal mines.

“We’re not playing with toys,” Caballero points out. “We’re operating a real transportation system in miniature.”

Warren’s Train Shop is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.