Mike is now a historian by profession, specializing in modern American history, history of science and technology, and environmental history, with a particular interest in Cold War nuclear intelligence history. Prior to that, he worked in wholesale grocery distribution, although he has an eclectic and varied parallel career as a community and media activist, including founding radio station WRFU-LP and as a co-founder of UC IMC in Urbana, IL.
Mike has been modeling trains since 1969. He previously built a HOn30 layout based on the Elk River RR series in RMC, a portable HO layout when living in Germany in the early 70s and a HOn3 Red Mountain, Colorado module, which is incorporated into his current HO/HOn3 layout, the Four Corners Division of the Rio Grande. The layout models the Silverton branch of the Rio Grande. The premise is that Durango was eventually served by a secondary D&RGW main built to connect from Moab, Utah to Grants, New Mexico, and the layout is roughly circa the 1974 time frame. Durango is dual gauge and the 3rd rail stretches west to serve the coal mine at Hesperus and link up with a still-operating Rio Grande Southern. Silverton is served by the Silverton Union RR, an amalgamation of the three Mears lines that ran north from there up to the mines.
Mike's modeling philosophy could be termed proto-realistic. While it's important that individual locos and rolling stock are accurate representations of the prototype, the tracks, trains, and towns they serve can be altered to provide more traffic and modeling fun, including the addition of locos and rolling stock that could have been. If it could've happened, maybe it did!