When Jim Hughes’ parents bought him his first Lionel train set in 1941 they had no idea what it would lead to. That simple gift for their then three-year-old son began a lifetime of collecting, and eventually exhibiting, model trains.

Dave Diamond

Year by year the family would add more items to the collection and it would frequently be on display in the family garage for friends and neighbors. The first true public exhibition was the 1954 Scout-O-Rama in the 4-H Barn on Midwestern Parkway.

Dave Diamond

Eventually the collection grew so large that it was split between Jim and his brother, Don. The Art Express is approximately half of Jim’s part of the collection and is currently on display at the Wichita Falls Museum of Art at Midwestern State University. Jim estimates that it takes about 1,000 hours – that’s twenty-five 40 hour weeks – to build the display as it is currently presented and there is about one mile of electrical wiring to bring life to all of those tiny electric motors and lights.

Dave Diamond

What you’ll see when you go is a collection of O gauge model trains ranging from streamlined passenger trains to steam locomotives like the Hogwart’s and North Pole Express, a circus train and more. There’s even a NASA rocket launch! Jim points out the intricacies and detailed movements on the cars as his son runs the controls from the back of the room.

Dave Diamond

The Art Express will be on display through Saturday, December 21st. A ticket – you can get it punched by Conductor Jim and keep it as a souvenir – is only $4 and kids three and under get in free with an adult.

Dave Diamond

While you're there be sure to take a few minutes and explore the other pieces and exhibits on display at the museum.

Dave Diamond

The presentation takes just over half an hour, contact the Wichita Falls Museum of Art at MSU for exact dates and showtimes.