Roy Myers has always been fascinated by trains.

“I’ve loved them since I was a kid,” the 77-year-old native Kansan said. “I can remember being young and wondering how they start, how they work, where they run to.”

That childhood curiosity bloomed in Myers throughout his life culminating in West Texas Short Line Railroad circling in his backyard.

The West Texas Short Line Railroad passes by a bait and tackle shop near Raccoon Gulch in Roy Myers’ backyard in Big Lake.
J.L. MANKIN | BIG LAKE WILDCAT

His railroad, a G-Scale model (also known as a Garden Scale train according to Roy), is built waist high as it circles an Arizona Ash tree off his back porch.

“Before I moved to Big Lake, I had a much longer line,” Roy said of his Kansas set up. “I scaled down for my Texas version.”

The engine pulls the mixed load through the scale model of Royal, Texas - A fictional community complete with a school house, hotel, grocery store, church and a sandlot baseball game.

Myers does not view his model as a static display. Half of the fun for him is creating backstories for the community and people who call it home.

“It was originally Royal, Kansas,” Myers said. “Before moving to Texas two years ago, we lived on a one-acre property for 10 years up there. I had an entire story about Royal, Kansas. Its history and what its future may look like... Its main industries and what was being shipped on the line.”

Myers said friends in Kansas would ask if there was a real Royal, Kansas.

“It exists in my imagination,” Myers said. “I like the freedom it gives. As for Royal, Texas? I don’t have that story fully developed yet, but I imagine the oil and gas industry will play a major role in it.”

The West Texas Short Line Railroad takes its riders and cargo through a scene right out of the 1940’s and 50’s.

“That time period just hits home for me,” Myers said. “Of course, it brings me back to my childhood, but I think there is a beauty in it that everyone can appreciate.”

Myers said there is a practical reason for the selection as well. It marks the shift from steam engines to diesel across America’s railways.

“It gives me flexibility,” Myers said. “I can run either on the line and it remains period correct.”

Speaking of engines, Myers collection boasts a total of five G-Scale engines and over 15 pieces of rolling stock (train cars of various uses).

Myers dreamed about his own rail line throughout life, but set those dreams to action roughly five to six years before he retired at 70.

“I started buying up G-Scale track on E-Bay and at swap meets in preparation,” Myers said. “I even went to two or three G-Scale model conventions in various cities. I just started buying the things I knew that I wanted for the railroad in my mind.”

Not all of the items in Myers’ collection were purchased. He also used his ingenuity to craft several of the items to fit his world.

The West Texas Short Line is just a portion of the total track Myers has in hand.

“I had a lot of space before moving to Texas,” Myers said. “I have around three to four times the amount of track than is seen here. I had to scale things back here to fit the space available.”

Myers’ West Texas Short Line Railroad was on full display this past Sunday as he and his wife, Jackie, opened their backyard to the community.

The West Texas Short Line Railroad passes through Royal, Texas Sunday evening Roy Myers’ backyard in Big Lake.
J.L. MANKIN | BIG LAKE WILDCAT

“We were surprised by the number of people who came out to enjoy the railroad,” Roy said. “We even had around 100 kids visit as part of First Baptist Church’s Vacation Bible School. It was a blessing being able to share the message of God’s strength using the railroad.”

The G-Scale model is a labor of love for the Myers, who spend two to two-and-a-half hours building and breaking down the model for each viewing.

“It is a lot of work,” Roy said. “But it truly is a lifetime passion of mine. I can not imagine doing anything else.”

If you are out and about in Big Lake and run into Roy, be sure to ask him about Royal and the West Texas Short Line. He will gladly share his passion with you, and you may even have a chance to help him shape the story of his favorite imaginary town in Texas.

The Big Lake Wildcat is interested in highlighting people in Big Lake and Reagan County who have interesting hobbies. If you, or someone you know, has an interesting hobby, please contact Editor J.L. Mankin at 325-884-2215 or by emailing editor@mybiglake.com