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Maine model railroad begins journey to new home in Kennebunkport

The Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport received a multi-million dollar donation to house the model railroad.

JONESPORT, Maine — For years, thousands of people from all over the world have traveled to the small coastal town of Jonesport to see the Maine Central Model Railroad.

The model railroad is an elaborate, finely detailed ride through Maine that took Helen and Harold "Buz" Beal 20 years to build. 

“Ever since [Buz] was 12 years old, he was crazy about trains,” Helen said of her late husband. “One day, he asked me, 'Can I build a railroad?' I said, ‘Of course. Can I help?’ And I did help.”

Once they finished the railroad, the Beals welcomed guests to their home to see the result of their decades-long work.

From West Quoddy Head Lighthouse to the Maine mountains, and even author Stephen King's Bangor home, the Beals' model railroad has it all. 

"We just had it in our minds what we wanted to build, what it would look like, and we built most everything," Helen explained. 

The couple's nephew, Harry Fish, helped build the model.

"My job was to make it run," Fish said. "We decided right from the beginning that it was going to be something that we operate and runs like a real railroad with switch lists, timetables, all that.”

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Helen, 88, told NEWS CENTER Maine she's been without her husband for 10 years. Without him, it's been hard to care for the beloved railroad the couple spent years of their lives constructing. Knowing it would be best for her and the railroad, Helen has found a new home for the model.

“We’re excited to relocate this model layout to Kennebunkport, Maine, and set it back up again in a brand new building at the Seashore Trolly Museum," the museum's executive director, Katie Orlando, said.

Recently, the museum received roughly $2.6 million from Hansjoerg Wyss, a rail enthusiast, philanthropist, and friend of the Beals. Wyss approached the museum in 2020 to ask if they might consider providing a home for the layout.

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Orlando said the funds would cover the construction of the new building, relocation of the railroad, and 10 years of maintenance costs. 

"On Monday, [movers will] be cutting the model in sections," Orlando said. "We’ll store it for a few months while the new building is being built, and hopefully, by fall, we’ll be able to move the layout to the new building. We’ll reassemble it as it currently is."

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