It's not toy Lionel
I was a member of the Inland Empire Model Railroad Club back in its heyday of 1980s. Every tie was hand cut, sanded, stained, and hand spiked. Scale model railroading was never Lionel. Several of the houses in the town were built by a friend of mine that passed away 25 years ago. He would take pictures of local houses and then build them from the picture. I was always amazed when someone recognized their house. He would open up his sketch book and there was a picture and address of their house. The gentleman I worked with was a WWII vet that loved to build models. He built box cars from a carton of Pall Malls and by the time he finished, you could see every rivet and board. And when the door was slid open, there was the unfinished carton plainly marked 'Pall Mall'. He taught me how to wire that railroad and when we started there were hundreds of black wires - some connected, some not. When the club was started they used left over WW II wire that came in one basic color - black. What a nightmare! We would come in around 5 PM and work until breakfast on wiring and track. Just the two of us - trying to make the layout run better and look better. Even though the layout is gone, I will always look back at the things I learned and did with my friend Harry, who is also gone, on the IE with frustration of those that wanted to run around the Christmas tree (located on the tallest mountain in the center of the layout) and with a smile for the friendships made from those who cared about the IE model railroad club.