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Jack Hornor’s living room is one big train set

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Posted: Sunday, September 23, 2012 9:11 pm | Updated: 7:54 am, Mon Sep 24, 2012.

Some people might consider Jack Hornor to be rather crazy, but many consider his train hobby quite normal. In 2000, he told the News-Sentinel he had 378 model train cars. He surely has more than that today, but he’s lost count.

Hornor, 77, is a fanatic about model trains. In fact, it takes up his entire living room.

In most people’s houses, he said, people have most of their furniture, TV and other items in their family room rather than the living room. As he sees it, he has room for his trains in one room and his chairs and TV in another.

A crew from Good Day Sacramento on CW 31 will be at his Galt home on Monday morning to show off Hornor’s massive train collection to its viewing audience.

Hornor will be on TV at about 8 a.m. Monday, followed by a second segment at 9 a.m., when Galt Mayor Barbara Payne will give him a proclamation on the air.

Hornor can run seven train lines at the same time. You can hear the train whistles blow and see smoke billowing out of the steam engines. He can rattle off the model of each train, including how small it is. For example, he would say one of his cars is one-sixtieth the size of the real thing.

In addition to his trains, Hornor has a miniature village. It includes plastic figures of passengers waiting for the train, farm animals grazing, oil derricks, and three nuclear reactors.

Want more, about an old Bob’s Big Boy restaurant sign, a dog biting a postal carrier, homeless people setting a fire to keep warm and a sign called GASP — the Galt-Amador-Southern Pacific train that once went from Galt to Jackson.

Want more? You can find three camels (the two-hump variety) and a two-story building housing a proctologist’s office.

A 30-year friend and former coworker, Beverly Sigafoos, was at Hornor’s house to help dust and clean the cars and other items so they will look a little nicer for the Channel 31 TV crew. She loves trains, too.

Sigafoos wanted a train set as a child, but her family considered trains something boys play with.

“I just got another doll,” said Sigafoos, who also lives in Galt.

Born and raised in Burbank, Hornor said he has a picture of him with a train as early as age 3. He became even more interested when he visited his grandfather in downtown Stockton, a vacant lot from a train station.

Hornor’s a retired engineer who worked at a number of nuclear power plants, including Rancho Seco in Sacramento County. He moved to Galt from Benicia in 1999, and shortly thereafter, he set up his train set.

His late wife, George Ann, wasn’t exactly a long-suffering wife who had to put up with her entire living room filled with trains. She was a train fanatic herself.

She had her own trains that Hornor has on a shelf in his living room. George Ann’s collection was a little different. Her collection includes Disney and Looney Tunes characters pushing a hand car. They include Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Daffy Duck, Donald Duck, Sylvester and Porky Pig.

George Ann Hornor died in the spring of 2011.

Hornor’s train collection isn’t limited to the living room. A much smaller train table can be found in the dining room, and all sorts of photos and train memorabilia are on the walls of the dining room, office and hallways.

Despite pushing 80, Hornor maintains his passion for model trains and socializing with like-minded people. He’s a member of the Toy Train Operating Society in Sacramento and volunteers at the California Railroad Museum in Old Sacramento. He also plans to attend the largest train show in the country — in York, Pa., which has 3,000 tables of trains.

‘You’d be surprised how many men I’ve seen playing with trains,” Sigafoos said.

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

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