History Through the Lens of a Locomotive

A lot of us would be jealous of Mark Malmkar if we were honest with ourselves. Mark never grew up; he still plays with trains.

The western Nebraska native is a member of the Tri-City Model Railroad Association (TCMRA), which meets in Grand Island’s restored 1911 Burlington Station. The 25 member club was established in 1993 and moved into the station in 2002, where it’s created a historic model of the city. The layout shows Grand Island during the 1940s-1960s, an interesting era in rail history when both steam and diesel locomotives operated and passenger service was still available.

Two railroads passed through Grand Island in the 1940s, Union Pacific and Chicago, Burlington & Quincy. The club’s double-decker layout includes both lines. Custom-built steel helixes carry trains up and down between levels. They use the latest technology, able to control the movement of their trains with their smart phones.

Five TCMRA members have achieved master modeler status awarded by the National Model Railroad Association.

According to Mark, five TCMRA members have achieved master modeler status awarded by the National Model Railroad Association, something only 535 people have done since the achievement award was created in 1961.

The layout is open to the public every third Tuesday of the month (7-8:30pm). They encourage prospective modelers to visit during weekly work sessions — also Tuesday evenings — to get a feel for the group and layout.