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Whistle Stop Toy Train Company

By Michael Summers


Fort Wayne Reader


When Gary Ferris retired from Slater Steel last year, like most retirees he was looking forward to being able to spend a little more time on his hobbies. Except for Ferris, his hobby was already well on the road to becoming an established business in his own right.

Ferris owns Whistle Stop Toy Train Company. An avid train lover since he was a child, Ferris bought Whistle Stop in 1998. “It was a hobby before, and now it’s a hobby business,” he says. “It’s something I’ve been in love with for a long time.”

A toy train enthusiast could spend hours at Whistle Stop. It’s packed with everything from diorama pieces, tracks in several different gauges, and, of course, tons of scale-model trains. “Now days, the trains have all the microprocessors in them and the sound systems and the programming. It’s exciting,” Ferris says.
Farris says his clients run the gamut from first time Lionel buyers to scale-modelers who regularly visit Whistle Stop looking for rarities. “I have the kind of shop that a person has got to look around,” Ferris says. “Sometimes, the treasures are something you’ve got to search for.”

About some of his long-time clients, Ferris says, “There are a lot of different collectors out there. Fort Wayne has a couple collections worth a lot of money, but they just sort of keep it to themselves.”

Every Saturday morning, Whistle Stop is host to a sort of informal meeting of model train enthusiasts who look at new stuff, swap advice, or show up to have a model repaired. Some of them come by to check out Ferris’ own impressive track layout, which dominates one side of the shop.

Ferris tries to explain the appeal of scale model trains. “Everyone has an innate talent,” he says. “Some people might be able to argue convincingly. Other people might be really handy with their hands, and they carve. Other people paint. Other people write music. It’s a drive that a person has to create, in their own little space, what their mind sees. These guys do the same thing, but you never know about them, unless they invite you in, or tell you what they have. You’ll never know. They’ll come in and buy things, and I get to talking to them, and I’ll find out that there are some really unique pieces of work out there.”

Whistle Stop Toy Train Company
9212 Ernst Road, Fort Wayne, IN

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