Steve Sanders' passion for model trains started at a very young age. His wife Jane told WFAA that Steve remembered boarding the train in Dallas to head to summer camp in Colorado. Many years later, Steve took his passion for trains and created a 2,500 square foot G-scale layout in the upstairs room of his Dallas home.
"It was his life story," said Jane Sanders.
Steve was born and raised in Texas. He would do several tours in Vietnam with the Army Green Berets. Jane said his military service had exposed him to toxic chemicals, which led to his lung cancer diagnosis in 2013.
"He was around a lot of Agent Orange, and 40 years later he got lung cancer," Jane said. Steve died three-and-a-half months after the diagnosis.
Jane had a huge decision to make: what to do with the large scale and professionally-made layout in their home. The Sanders would ultimately decide to donate the entire layout and hundreds of trains to the Museum of the American Railroad.
The layout is currently disassembled in a large room at the Discovery Center in Frisco. Bob LaPrelle with the museum saw the incredible detail in the layout and knew he had to have it.
"The level of detail is just amazing," he said.
With the help of the City of Frisco, Bob was able to secure a building to house the layout and secure funding to disassemble and reassemble the layout at the Discovery Center.
"Most everything over here has never been opened. It's all in its original box," LaPrelle said.
The total cost of the project is expected to cost around $350,000. The display should be complete by spring break 2018.
"This was his [Steve's] world and now everybody gets to share it," he said.