By Nora Hakramaj
Scroll down for the full story
Videographer / director: Ruaridh Connellan
Producer: Nora Hakramaj, Nick Johnson
Editor: Sonia Estal, Kyle Waters
Howard Zane, 77 spends most of his time in the basement of his home in Columbia, Maryland working on his 3,000 square foot masterpiece that he made from scratch.
His fascination began at the age of three when his father gave him a train set.
Howard said: “I am proud of this – it’s definitely an addiction.
“It’s hard to figure out how much this is worth but I think it could be around $2m if somebody wanted to recreate this set.
“It has a lot of unusual features – the scenery alone starts below track level and goes on up to the ceiling.
“Just about everybody has some kind of affinity for trains - some carry it on further like myself.”
But his lifelong obsession with railways has had an unsurprising effect on his love life.
“My first wife thought of the trains as competition for her at times and didn’t quite understand them.
“My second wife thought I should be more serious but Sandy – my current wife– also loves model trains and understands what I am down here building this thing.”
Sandy, 70 said: “I knew about his train obsession since the very beginning – since we first met in the 1980’s.
“I fully support it and the best part of all is that I always know where Howard is.
“He is always in the basement. He is working on his layout and having a great time and I think it’s fantastic.”
Ten years ago somebody offered to buy Howard’s home with the railroad included but he says he cannot sell it.
Howard plans on extending his railroad by 4,500 square feet but insists on maintaining his high quality standards.
Sandy added: “I cannot imagine that Howard would ever stop this hobby. He has said that when he can’t move, when he is in the wheelchair, he would be building models in his shop.”