Interview with a Master Model Railroader

Interview with Mary Miller, MMR

Mary, I am looking to get your perspective on the hobby as a woman and an MMR (Master Model Railroader). I would assume that as a woman and an MMR, you have a somewhat different view of the hobby than many of us. First, I'd like to know something about the appeal of the hobby to you personally and then I'll entertain anything that you might think appropriate.

Somewhere, many people have the idea that it is a "man's" hobby (mostly men I think), and that is a crock as far as I'm concerned. The CID (Central Indiana Division) just took in an active woman modeler last month and I'll challenge anyone who belittles her. We have had others over the years, but all too few I'm afraid. - Roger

Roger, my thoughts (a woman's perspective) on model railroading, really isn't much different than a man's perspective. Over the years, I have found that some modelers (men in this case as I haven't met too many women modelers) don't like certain aspects of the hobby (like track planning for the layout which is critical to the final product), but excel in other aspects (like track laying, also critical to the final product if you want to see your trains run).

I am no different. What I have noted though is that the group of men I have been associated with (especially my husband Bill) have been very supportive of my talents and have egged me on to excel in all aspects of the hobby that I have delved into. I am also an achiever. This in part helped me to get my MMR.

The group of men that I operate with monthly on our Ohio Creek Subdivision of the Colorado & Southern Railroad treat me with respect just like they do the others. I never think about the fact that I am a woman (except that it is quite obvious that I am the only one at these sessions unless some of the guys bring their girlfriends or wives). So, for me, critical to getting women into the hobby is this same positive, accepting and encouraging attitude from other men across the country. They also help by providing positive criticism of my modeling work, and offer ideas for improvement. I also ask a lot of questions.

As to the appeal of the hobby from a woman's perspective, I find most aspects fascinating - photography, history, fan trips, soldering, track laying, building structures and cars, wiring, everything except track planning. That is my weakest area and fortunately, Bill excels in this so I'm saved from having to rip out a lot of track. Meeting new people and old acquaintances at conventions is also a big part of the "fun" we talk about when we say, that "model railroading is fun".

You are right when you say, that "many people have the idea that model railroading is a man's hobby". Even though you think "that's a crock", let's face it. It is a man's hobby. Society established rules way back and trains are for boys and dolls are for girls. But as these rules are changing and society is becoming more liberal, men and women need to venture out and do what they want to do regardless of gender and accept each others talents for what they are, and be glad that both can enjoy a wonderful hobby.

My friend, Mark Czerwinski, comes up to my house once a week to guide me through the building of my first brass engine. I'm building the C&S #60 2-8-0. It is a real challenge (another thing I like). He printed out a picture of a group of engineers photographed around an engine and wrote in the words "Boiler makers don't wear dresses" and hung it up by my workbench. He was teasing of course, but I think that's another area that's important in the hobby, especially for women. Enjoy the teasing and just show what you can do. I was not at all offended. But that's me. There are a lot of women out there that are more sensitive. But what's the difference? Men are the same.

So, I hope some of the above gives you that "woman's" perspective. It has been a fun hobby for me. Especially the numerous visits to Colorado to research and visit sites of the Colorado and Southern and D&RGW railroads that once were. I keep meeting new modelers across the country, including Switzerland and Australia and learn new techniques or new ideas from each. I encourage other women who are interested to seek out model railroaders in their area who are willing to provide the same encouragement and acceptance I have received. - Mary

Mary Miller is MMR #175 and has received certificates in the following AP categories: Cars, Chief Dispatcher, Scenery, Structures, Association Official, Civil Engineer and Volunteer. Some of Mary's and Bill's work was shown at their former web site MillerModels, but the website is not available any more, unfortunately.

To learn more about the N.M.R.A. Achievement Program, click here.

Back To: Beginner Main Page

Page last updated January 9, 2015