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'Chicago' model train has $2 million price tag

December 11, 2008 12:42:53 PM PST
Model trains and Christmas go together like Santa and reindeer. For a Barrington woman building model trains is a lifelong passion. Elaine Silets designed her first miniature train layout as a child- and she's still at it.

On a beautiful country estate in Barrington, there's a very unusual business, Huff and Puff Industries, which builds model train sets to order for people from around the world. Elaine Silets is the founder and for the past 18 years she has been designing and selling very expensive train sets.

Her pride and joy right now- a 2500-square foot of modern day Chicago- complete with Millennium Park, the El and much more. It's the result of a lifelong hobby.

"It began when I was a child when I virtually absconded with my brother's train ... ah, which he didn't have too much interest in," said Silets.

Silets is a natural born designer who uses her talent to turn model rail fan dreams into reality. She builds it- and they come.

"Absolutely. ... Big ones, little ones. If you want a railroad ... come and see the Train Lady," said Silets.

Silets' train is featured in the Robb Report, which highlights 21 ultimate Christmas gifts. Shoppers need big money to give these gifts. How much for the Chicago train?

"It would be $2 million," said Silets. "It took two and a half years ... with a crew of six and sometimes eight, believe it or not, to build all this."

The layout will end up with the City of Chicago as a gift.

Check out more of Silets work at trainlady.com.


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