Four years ago, William "Bud" Green decided to fulfill his long-time dream of building an addition on to his home in Pasadena solely to display his enormous model train collection.
The spacious room houses hundreds of model trains, buildings, and people, some of which are displayed on the room's centerpiece — an enormous train garden. It displays towns, an animated, musical carnival complete with merry-go-round and Ferris wheel, as well as a winter scene with snow on the ground, moving ski lift and ice skating rink.
Circling the tracks are O, HO, and N-scale trains. Other trains line the walls on shelves Green built, including his oldest, a pre-World War II Lionel. Underneath the train garden is a storage space packed with more buildings and trains of all ages and sizes.
"I spent my whole life collecting junk," Green joked about his collection.
Green isn't picky about the type of model trains he purchases, he collects a variety of scales and brands. He says Bachmann produces the best smaller scale trains while Lionel makes better large scale trains.
His motto is, "if I like it, I just go and buy it."
His model train collecting began decades ago. The first one he purchased as a young man was eventually thrown away by his wife, Marylou, because their son kept leaving it in the middle of the floor. He later purchased the same model, which now circles his train garden.
Green says he and Marylou were "completely different." He is a business owner and "dirty" mechanic who doesn't mind a little clutter, whereas she was a nurse and academic who wanted their home to be clean and organized.
Married for 47 years until her sudden death in 2002, Green recalled, "we never had an argument."
Due to his wife's desire for an uncluttered home, Green kept his model train collection in boxes for most of the year; they only made an occasional appearance during the Christmas season.
More than a decade after she passed away, he decided it was time to create the train garden he always wanted.
Green was encouraged to construct the train room by his girlfriend, Georgette Dudley. The couple worked together to create the room; Dudley helped Green install the wood flooring and, with help from Green's family, arranged buildings and landscapes in the miniature town.
"I helped out a little bit," Dudley said, because "he always wanted something to run his trains on."
Dudley and Green were neighbors when they were younger; they reconnected at a local Moose Lodge in 2004 after their spouses died.
The train room became a shared project between the couple. They still spend time rearranging the room during weekend visits and enjoy shopping for additions to the collection.
Although the train garden isn’t open to the public, Green's family and friends often stop by to play with the miniature world. His great-granddaughter is particularly fond of the trains.
Known as the train collector among his friends, his train room has become a catchall for model buildings and trains that his friends no longer want.
Part of the model train appeal for Green is fixing them when they break. Inside his train room is a work bench complete with tools and drawers packed with replacement parts.
His repair projects aren't limited to the train room, he has also remodeled his home, built garages, and modifies his vehicles. He's reconstructing a Greyhound Bus into a camper he plans to use to travel around the country.
Green always enjoyed fixing things. He's been a large truck engine mechanic for 65 years. For 33 years, he worked for Preston Trucking. He has owned a company in Baltimore called B and J Truck & Equipment for the past 30 years, however, his retirement is imminent.
With retirement just around the corner, Green isn't looking forward to the extra time on his hands.
"You know what happens to people when they retire? They get lost,” he said.
Years ago, he was more attached to his collection, now he's not opposed to leaving it all behind if he decides to move to Florida with two of his daughters.
Born in 1933, Green was adopted by farmers in Baltimore County when he was a baby. The family rarely left the farm, except for a September trip to town to purchase new clothes and shoes for school.
As a young man, he left Maryland for a trucking job in Florida where he was paid 4 cents a mile, but returned in 1953. Two years later, he married Marylou, they settled in Pasadena to raise their three children.
Green wasn't raised visiting train gardens in the city during the holidays like his friend and neighbor Charlie Johns. When John’s was growing up, he remembers train gardens being commonplace in and around the Pasadena area.
Johns says he appreciates Green’s efforts to continue the train garden tradition he fondly remembers from childhood.
Green's fascination with trains doesn't come from childhood nostalgia, but from an appreciation for transportation history in the U.S.
"(Trains are) the beginning of America, really," he said.