Employee Spotlight – Walter Johnson, Chief Engineer

Walter Johnson | Chief EngineerMeet Walter Johnson III, Chief Engineer of the Castle’s Model Railroad. Walter, a designer by heart, never had the chance to play with trains while he was young. Now he’s making up for lost time. Combine Walter’s college degree in mechanical drafting and auto CAD with the Castle’s current 70+ train engines, and Walter’s having the time of his life living his dream job.

What’s it like to be the Castle’s Chief Engineer? Walter is responsible for keeping each of the 160+ G-scale trains chugging over the tracks, across bridges, and around the curves that make up more than ½ mile of the Castle’s railroad track. His technical and design skills are crucial. Many people visit the Castle specifically because of the trains, and Walter prides himself on being available to chat and answer questions. He loves giving personalized ‘mini-tours’ to guests interested in Michigan’s largest Model Railroad.

Model Trains at Castle Farms, Michigan

Walter’s passions include designing new train systems, and he’s excited about the upcoming 2015 train season. Since the weather broke early, some of the trains are already out. Walter estimates that by season end, there’ll be 80-85 engines running on separate tracks.

What else is new for 2015? Kids will now be able to ride small trains, and Walter thinks they’re going to love it. A layout addition in the ABC Garden will feature more of the children’s trains inside a train yard, as well as a turntable layout. More trains will be added to the 2nd tower roof. Meanwhile, the Lionel Room (under one of the towers) has been emptied out. We won’t spoil the surprise and tell you what Walter has planned. Come out and see for yourself what he’s doing with all that space!

Model Trains at Castle Farms, MichiganModel Trains at Castle Farms, Michigan

Interested in joining the Castle’s Train Club? We need new members. Joining the Club is free, plus you get an awesome Castle Farms Model Railroad T-shirt (also free!). Young or old, there’s no minimum or maximum age requirement to be a member of the Train Club. Be as involved as you want. The only thing required: bring your enthusiasm. You can run your own trains on the Castle tracks. Or, if you prefer to operate the Castle Farms layouts, that’s okay with us too. Plans are also in the works to provide Club members with the opportunity to build layout tables which connect to each other (making it easy to display them in winter and the off-season). The Castle will provide the blank HO-sized tables, plus all the necessary stuff (such as trains, track and scenery) to build your own layout. Pretty cool, right? We think so!

Chief Engineer Walter Johnson III… bringing the Castle’s Model Railroad to the next level. What does Walter have to say about all this? “All Aboard!”

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