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Bill Gates Getting Really Into Model Trains

Updated: May 6, 2022

MEDINA, WA--Bill Gates is currently living in an enormous 66,000 square foot mansion in Washington state. It feels urgently empty, as if for some reason, there was a speedy exodus. The carpets in the living room and dining room still show the indentations of furniture that must've been sitting there for twenty-seven years. There's dust marks on the mantle and on the walls where it seems like candelabras used to sit and portraits would have hung.

"Downstairs is where the action is" Gates tells me with an excited smile as he opens a door leading into the basement. In his basement there's a large table covering the bulk of an open room. On it sits a mockup of a fictional midwestern town sitting next to the country side. There's little fake trees near a little fake farm surrounded by little fake cattle. A miniature township is a few feet away with a Main Street leading up to a town hall. There's a water tower with the town name "Pleasant Falls" painted on it. Throughout all of this there's a complex system of trains racing around the track. Both freight train and Amtrak making routine stops throughout the mapped out area. "This is my new thing" Gates said looking at me with excitement. "Look, the Amtrak makes two stops. One of them is downtown and the other is a couple of hundred feet away at a little neighborhood I have on the other side of the forest, and it's all to scale!" In the background there was a 90's era boombox playing a tape recording of train noises. Whistles blowing and pistons firing. The occasional "all aboard" would be shouted as well. "This is all to scale. It's a mock up of the Minnesota-South Dakota boarder. It's a fictionalized town though." He said as he put on a conductors hat. "Check this one out" as he ran around the table and started pointing at a freight train hauling fake coal. "It's the Bachman N 24132" He hesitated to pick it up but decided to let it continue rolling on down the track. "I just got it in the mail yesterday!" he exclaimed as the boombox relayed sounds of a train-crossing-guard-gate lowering down to keep cars from driving over the tracks. "It all starts here but I think I'm going to have an interconnected model society throughout my entire house. Pleasant Falls is only the beginning."

Maybe I'm naïve, but I think Bill has bitten off more than he can chew. Regardless, it's fascinating to see what makes people tick.

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