CHISHOLM, MINN. - Take just a couple of steps into Troy Pendzimas' basement and it's clear there's something extraordinary on display.
The three-level, 21-by-12-foot train yard containing 530 feet of track connects three generations of the Pendzimas family.
The project, which is more than three years in the making, began as a request by Troy's daughter for a train set, but it soon became a vehicle to bring him closer to his dad, George.
"It's been such a big part of our lives," he said. "It's helped us connect. It means a lot to me."
Troy's done a remarkable job, said George, adding that a project of this scale requires a lot of steps, details and skills.
"You've got to know math, know electrical, carpentry, a little bit of everything," he said. "A person has got to be a jack of all trades and a master of none to do this project."
The project originated as a 4-by-8-foot model in a one-bedroom apartment. After Troy moved, he was able to expand the railroad to 9 feet by 9 feet.
"It didn't look right, and I wasn't satisfied," Troy said.
He then decided it was time to call up his dad for advice.
George, who has worked as an engineer for the Duluth Depot and had previous experience building model railroads, was living in Mexico at the time but agreed to help out.
The two began working together via webcam and the project quickly erupted to its current size.
The two would spend hours at a time chatting over the Internet with George pitching in concepts and suggestions while Troy proceeded to put the railroad together.
George is now back living in Chisholm, which has accelerated their progress.
The design of the railroad is N scale and is projected to have a fourth level before it's done, Troy said.
The Pendzimases have named the railroad "Fallen Flags" based on four discontinued railroads: Spokane Portland Seattle, Chicago Burlington, Great Northern and Northern Pacific. The Pendzimases are working with 36 locomotives, but the design has the ability to run up to 120 units. Each locomotive is hand assembled and costs from $80 to $250, Troy said.
"They come with hundreds of pieces," he said. "It's very meticulous and a project of its own."
There is a lot of work left to do, he added.
"Years, it'll take years," he said. "It'll never be finished."