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wattis-dumke model railroad

The Wattis Dumke Model Railroad was made possible due to the generosity of Edna Wattis Dumke and Dr. Ezekiel R. Dumke in honor of Edmund Orson Wattis, her father, co-founder of Utah International.


Envisioned and built to celebrate the great engineering feat that is the Transcontinental Railroad all ages enjoy exploring this delightful and realistic scale model of trains rolling through stunning points along the transcontinental railroad. The model is HO scale, the most popular scale in the world, it is 1/87th of real.

Visitors to the exhibit begin their “journey” east on the Central Pacific Railroad at Cape Horn, fifty-seven miles east of Sacramento, California. Passengers on the Union Pacific route were warned not to look down the 1,400 foot cliffs into the American Gorge as the railroad skimmed along the steep rim unless they had strong stomachs and nervous systems.  Sharp-eyed visitors will spot the eagle’s nest in the cliffs of the cape.

The Sierra’s or the Sierra Nevada Mountain range posed the most challenging obstacle for the Central Pacific Railroad’s engineers and workers. Drilling and blasting tunnels through the granite rock of the high snowy mountains in brutal winter conditions cost uncounted many their lives. The most amazing engineering feat of this section was the completion of the Summit Tunnel. Located 7,000 feet above sea level, the tunneling was worked from 4 directions at once.  A vertical shaft was drilled down into the mountain so the crews could work in 4 directions at once.  The calculations were so accurate that the two tunnels were only 2” apart when workers broke through.  The tunnel was 1,659 feet long, and 124 feet deep into the rock.  This cliffs and mountains of the model are constructed from plaster of paris over a plywood base on a 2’x4’ frame.  Three thousand pounds of plaster were used to create the Wattis Dumke Model Railroad exhibit.

The trains enter the Humboldt Palisades in northern Nevada and proceed on into Utah crossing the Great Salt Lake via the Lucin Cutoff.  The small town of Palisade, a stop on the Central Pacific Railroad is depicted.  The Eureka silver mine was discovered nearby.  The palisades are the rock cliff formations and are named for a similar rock formation along the Hudson River in New York.  This section of the model was constructed differently than the rest of the model.  The rock formations are built of layers of plywood laminated together and covered with permascene and glue. In the month of October, visitors to the exhibit may spot a ghost hovering over the Palisades Cemetery. Placed there by the humorous volunteers who maintain the model. Flying witches, bats and leprechauns have been known to appear in the model upon occasion, as well.

The Lucin Cutoff across the Great Salt Lake section of the model took 2 years to build. Based on the original engineering drawings the trestle model was constructed offsite and installed in 3 sections.  California Seagulls, the Utah state bird fly over the lake as a gentleman in a barrel floats in the realistic looking water below. The real trestle bridge of the Lucin Cutoff was 12 miles long.

The trains pass by Promontory Summit in the Utah desert where the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad WattisDumketook place with the driving of the last “golden” spike on May 10, 1869.  Notice the “pyramid marker” and small town. When the Lucin Cutoff was completed in 1904 the railroad bypassed the original Central Pacific route and cut 44 miles off the journey.   The model continues on the Union Pacific route through the small town of Corrine and on into Ogden, Utah with a large depiction of the Union Station and downtown Ogden circa early 1950’s.  Underneath the Union Station model is a full workshop used by the train modelers to maintain the model trains and scenery. The locked hidden entry door is found in the paneling at the end of this section.

Continuing on the trains reach Weber Canyon crossing the green trestle bridge at Devils Gate after climbing steeply on the way into Wyoming. Recently added a small group of men gather around a flickering fire, watch out for the skunk!

Look for the bear and the cowboy fishing near the model of The Dale Creek Trestle.  The imaginative rail journey ends in Council Bluffs just East of Omaha, Nebraska where the Union Pacific began building the transcontinental railroad from the East.




Special Thanks in memoriam to Ethel Wattis Dumke for wanting to share the extraordinary feat that the creation of the transcontinental railroad was.  The exhibit was created through the efforts of many especially the members of the Hostlers Model Railroad Club. It continues to be lovingly maintained and repaired by volunteers from the Hostlers Model Railroad Club, especially Alan McCallum, Claude Ashby, Jerry Johnson and until his passing in 2013, John Nailen.


Edmund O. Wattis (1855-1934)

Beginning with his first job as an ox team driver at the age of 12, E.O. Wattis was one of the most active and influential developers of the American West. With his brother, William H., Mr. Wattis freighted to the Montana mines from Corrine. Together with the four Corey brothers, he organized the Utah Construction Company – which built the Western Pacific Railroad, the last major railroad construction in the United States and the only one built i the 20th Century.

Among the other railroads built by the company were the Denver and Rio Grande over Soldier Summit; many tunnels for the Southern Pacific, and the Southern Pacific of Mexico.

The Utah Construction Company became the nucleus of Six Companies, Inc., which built the Hoover Dam; the Bonneville Dam; the Grand Coulee Dan; the New York State Aqueduct; the Long Beach Breakwater, the Alcan Highway and the Geneva Steel Plant.


Dr. Ezekiel R. Dumke (1886-1961)

Dr Ezekiel Ricker Dumke was born December 15, 1886 in Manitowac, Wisconsin, to John and Ida Ricker Dumke He attended Denver University on a football scholarship and Northwestern Medical School, where he graduated in 1910.

After interning at St. Anthony Hospital in Denver and the LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City, he entered private practice n Ogden in 1911.  There he married Edna Wattis, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. E.O. Wattis.  In 1918 and 1919 he served as a captain and orthopedic surgeon with an army medical unit. After being discharged, he returned to Ogden to resume his medical practice.

Dr. Dumke was always interested in bringing the latest medical technology to Utah. He was one of the three founders of the Ogden Surgical Society, which brings outstanding speakers to Utah each year.  He was the first Chief of Staff at both the Dee Memorial Hospital and St. Benedict’s Hospital, for which eh had been instrumental in obtaining the initial government funding.  He pioneered the use of spinal anesthesia and was an authority on thyroid surgery.

Dr. Dumke was known for his “million dollar smile”. He enjoyed teaching young doctors and medical students. Having experienced the financial difficulties of obtaining an education, he established the Dumke Medical Student Emergency Fund, which helped twenty-eight students by the time of his death in 1961.  This fund is still aiding student at the University of Utah School of Medicine.  He was the founder of the Dr. Ezekiel R. and Edna Wattis Dumke Foundation, now run by his grandchildren, that continues to support efforts to improve the practice of medicine.

The Hostler Model Railroad Club

The Hostler Model Railroad Club was founded in February 1988 in Ogden, Utah by Mr. Brian Ripley and a few interested model railroaders to promote model railroading in the local area.  I September 1988, Mike Murphy was elected the first “Club” President.  Over the years the “Club” has grown to nearly 180 members, most of whom live along the Wasatch Front. Members enjoy excellent leadership and the dedication of many accomplished modelers who give freely of their time and their craft.  A monthly newsletter, “The Hostler N ews”, is produced to keep members and interested subscribers informed of activities and ongoing projects.  The Hostlers Model Railroad Club is a service club, giving to needy children at Christmas, donating to the Union Station Foundation for the restoration of rail equipment and the Wattis Dumke Model Railroad, and to the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society.  Each year during the first weekend in March, the “Club” hosts the Annual Model Railroad Festival at Ogden’s Station.  The 2014 Festival marked the 25th Anniversary and was attended by over 9,000 visitors.


How many trains are in the model?

Four trains run on four different tracks that depict the engineering marvels of the Transcontinental Railroad.

How long was the transcontinental railroad?

The Transcontinental Railroad ran 1777 miles, The Union Pacific laid 1,087 miles of track from Council Bluffs, Iowa to Promontory Summit, Utah. The Central Pacific laid 690 miles of track from Sacramento, California to Promontory Summit, Utah.

When was the model constructed?

The planning for the model began in 1979 and the model opened in 1992. It has been in continuous operation since it opened.

What is the model built of?

The model is constructed on a plywood base supported by 2×4 framing. Three thousand pounds of plaster of paris were used to sculpt the mountainous scenery, on top of the plywood base.  The Humbolt Palasdes  section was modeled differently, from laminated layers of shaped plywood covered with permascene and glue. In order to match the coloring of the scenery to the sky the backgrounds were painted in acrylic by various local prominent artists as the model neared completion. The Lucin cut off  is accurately scaled and is based on the original engineering drawings. The cutoff took 2 years to be constructed off site and installed in 3 pieces.


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