EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — One El Pasoan has been working on his hobby since 2015, but during the pandemic, his hobby has grown from a few El Paso landmarks to the city’s whole downtown area.
With the aid of some poster board, staples and a passion for El Paso, Hector Gonzales coped with the isolation that came with the pandemic by building a train town model of downtown El Paso and its surrounding areas, including the Asarco smokestacks that were torn down in 2013.
“First thing I started building on this little layout that I have here right now, the smokestack was the main starting point,” Gonzales said. “It’s been growing and growing.”
The train town started when his son gave him a miniature Amtrak train for Christmas, Gonzales said.
“Here I am, an old man, but still playing with my toys,” he quipped. “The trains kept me going, I guess. That was a lot of the help for me, from being locked up.”
The train town includes the Plaza Theater, the El Paso County Detention Facility in downtown, the Tap Bar, El Paso’s famed Rosa’s Cantina, the red X in Juarez and even the Franklin Mountains, star on the mountain and all.
At 82 years old, Gonzales said he doesn’t see himself stopping any time soon, and even plans next on building the DoubleTree hotel.
“I’m still having a good time,” he said. “I have lots of toys.”