Having hobbies which sometimes turn into sideline careers is important for relaxation, personal fulfillment, and simply getting away from a demanding job to do something different.. That’s been the case for Dr. Wayne E. Wesolowski, Lecturer in Chemistry at the University of Arizona and retired Professor of Chemistry at Benedictine University near Chicago.
He said in an e-mail to me, “Working with my hands in the summers is such a wonderful diversion from quantum mechanics and the like. By September I am ready for the rigors of molecular theory again. I’ve had a blessed life. My wife, Mary Cay, says I have no hobbies…only passions. “
In the summer, Wayne (a name he said is friendlier for places outside his quantum physics class) builds miniature replicas of historic buildings. He contacted me earlier this year for information on Chattanooga’s former Union Depot, which was located at Broad and Ninth (now M.L. King) streets. A model train set contractor, David Cardiff (www.dctrains.com), had engaged Dr. Wesolowski to build HO scale versions of the depots in Nashville, Stevenson, and Chattanooga. Railroad buffs know that the real trains have traveled that route since before the Civil War.
I provided Wayne with information on Union Depot which I had available, then referred him to the Local History and Genealogy department of the Public Library. I asked that he let me know when he completed his project.
Earlier this week, he e-mailed me to say that he had completed his work. The library staff had provided high-resolution photographs of Union Depot. Using the photos, he was able to include fine details of the building, including its angled, sawtooth bricks and clock (which he set to two o’clock) above the main entrance. One image showed the entrance doors in fine detail.
“I make masters, molds and cast copies in urethane resins for repeating patterns. Except for the front doors everything is scratch-built” said Dr. Wesolowski. He uses satellite imaging to obtain dimensions and details on projects where the buildings are still standing. That is the case with the depots in Nashville and Stevenson, but unfortunately, not the Chattanooga Union Depot.
Wayne has been building miniatures since his teens. His father was a Lionel collector, but didn’t begin the hobby until he was an adult – his wife gave him his first train. His father then proceeded to build a huge layout in their basement which included tracks running over the laundry tubs.
In college, Wayne built miniatures as a diversion from physics. He has continued the hobby ever since. He was director of a project to build a replica of President Abraham Lincoln’s funeral train. Several Web sites describe his work on that endeavor.
I mentioned to Wayne that Chattanooga did save its Terminal Station, now occupied by the Chattanooga Choo-Choo convention and hotel center. Coincidentally, there was a Lionel train collectors convention there last week, and the Sweet Georgia Sound big band provided their entertainment including a few train songs. I invited himi to visit Chattanooga to see our remaining train-related buildings, and he said that he might get on board with that idea.
If you have memories of the architectural details of Union Depot, or have included Chattanooga in your own model train set, please send me an e-mail at email@example.com. Dr. Wayne Wesolowski may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.