The trains run on time -- as they have for the past 60 years -- for Atlanta native and Arnall Golden Gregory partner Jack K. Holland.
"When I was a child I really liked playing with trains," said Holland, 67. "It was an activity I could do with my father."
His father was not an athlete, but he was gifted in building things and taught young Holland how to use tools and lay the electrical wiring.
Holland recalled that he ran trains in his room, "but it was just a small 4-by-8-foot layout," he said. "Daddy and I built a much larger layout in my grandfather's basement. We literally built everything there. We built the table together, we built … well, when I say 'we' -- I would help him and learned to drill the tracks down."
Today the basement of Holland's North Atlanta home is a place where kids -- and the young at heart -- can play with a giant train set more than 30 years in the making. It stretches the width of the foundation of his home, some 60 feet, with upper and lower tracks winding through hand-painted mountains, trees and country scenery.
The layout runs through two rooms, connected by a tunnel cut through a brick wall. You can hear that lonesome whistle from one end of the house to the other.
He spoke to the Daily Report about his lifelong hobby, which he said grew into a full-blown obsession.
Your love of trains goes back to your childhood. When did you start on this layout?
We moved into this house 35 years ago and I started building the railroad set a few years later. I had hip surgery that year so I was limited in the activity I could do. It was kind of my therapy. I'd get down here and forget about the practice of law and everything that goes with it.
How long did it take you to finish the first room?
Well, remember I was on crutches. It probably took me six months, but I wasn't working on it every day.
How long before you decided to expand?
It was probably three or four years before going into the main part of the basement. I did a separate layout in there, and maybe five to seven years later added a second layout to the main layout. Then I broke through the wall to connect the two rooms.