The choo-choo sound of a railroad train not only grabbed the attention of a young boy decades ago but created a lifelong passion that soon will lead to Pauls Valley getting a brand new museum.
When growing up in a rural area near Pauls Valley it was Jack Pack who decades ago as a young boy saw his first train. He also remembers hearing the train whistles in the distance that only reinforced his fascination with trains and railroads.
Now Pack has a plan to turn his high level hobby into a come-and-go museum featuring model trains and other fun surprises.
Pack has been spending recent days setting up his extensive collection of model trains for a downtown museum he plans to call “Jack's Tracks.”
His hope is to soon open that museum at 105 West Charles, which used to be a western clothing store called Cottie's back in the day.
“I like doing something for other people, so I really like the idea of having something to open up where somebody else could enjoy it,” Pack told the PV Democrat during a casual conversation inside the future museum.
“I want to share what I was doing with the community. I grew tired of it being just for me.
“The primary reason for this is to open it up for people who love trains.”
Pack grew up in the Pauls Valley and Wynnewood area, first becoming fascinated with trains in the late 1940s.
Hearing the train whistles he finally saw one up close and personal during a trip to town.
“There was something lonesome about it; a train all by itself out there on the tracks,” Pack says.
“We lived in the country. We didn’t have a car, so we used a tractor to go into Wynnewood to do our grocery shopping.”
The store there just happened to be near the train tracks running through town.
“We’d be there buying groceries and we’d see the trains with old steam engines that actually operated back then. I loved it.
“When we were here in Wacker Park we would watch the train go by. Man I loved to just sit and watch the train. Anytime I could see the train I loved it.”
One thing he liked about the train in those days is the railroad cars were open, which meant you could see what cargo they were carrying.
“I also liked the passenger trains because you could see people in the windows. I would wonder where are they going. You would see the engineers and wave at them and they’d wave back at you.”
Pack also liked the look of the iconic engine and caboose.
More recently he started to watch trains online before then checking out the model trains on sale.
“I started buying Santa Fe models because I equated Santa Fe with this line,” he said while pointing toward the train tracks by Pauls Valley’s depot.
“I just wanted to have a model train. I started setting it up in my living room.”
In Pack’s case there was more than one as different sets were strewn all around his local residence.
Then one day he noticed a “for rent” sign in the window of the old Cottie’s shop on West Charles. He checked into it and decided it was a good place for a model train museum.
Once it’s open the museum will have set hours for the public to simply stroll in without paying admission, check things out and maybe leave some money in a donation jar by the front door when they leave.
Pack even intends to use YouTube and a website to promote the museum in the hopes other people with a passion for trains will come and see it for themselves.
“Maybe they’ll get on the Heartland Flyer and ride to Pauls Valley and we can visit with them about trains. I would like to see it become a tourism attraction for Pauls Valley.
“We want a place where if you want to come in and just sit and visit and check out model trains then you can do that. We want to create a comfortable place to just drop by, have some coffee or tea, relax and just visit.”