If you tune in to WSJS early in the morning, you have probably heard host JR Snider bringing you the news of the day. But away from the microphone, he takes on the role of train enthusiast.
“This is what I do instead of play golf. Costs about the same,” he said.
In the backyard of his Kernersville home, Snider has 500 feet of track surrounding a miniature town, some hills, and even a tunnel. Snider has a railroad crossing sign and a shed designed to resemble a depot where he stores the rolling stock.
Snider built his railroad in 1994 after a year of research.
“My initial idea was it was going to run around the pool and carry beer,” he said. “And my wife said, no it’s not.”
Snider often has friends over who bring their model trains to run around his track and he has two lounge chairs set up on one side of the display for viewing. He said the trains can run in any type of weather, including rain and snow. He is in the process of converting the engines over to a lithium ion battery that can be recharged.
Growing up, Snider often heard stories of railroad adventures from his great-grandfather and grandfather. They helped blast tunnels for the Clinchfield Railroad that ran from Elkhorn City, Kentucky to Spartanburg, South Carolina beginning in the 1920s.
“When they weren’t blowing tunnels, his (grandfather) job was to go out and find a house near where the track was going to go and contract with those people to help feed the railworkers,” Snider said. “That’s how he met my grandmother.”
Snider sometimes partners with his fellow rail buffs to bring his set to professional train shows, as he did a few years ago when he and a friend from Clemmons set up their display in the roundhouse of Spencer’s North Carolina Transportation Museum for Rail Days.
He has traveled on trains throughout the world, but says his favorite ride is the Durango & Silverton Railroad in Colorado—a nostalgic steam ride that takes you high into the Rockies right along the banks of the Colorado River. He acknowledges that train travel gives you a unique perspective on the world by taking you through areas not seen from the road.
“You see animals and stuff like that, because you’re in their territory,” he said. !
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