Mullen hopes to expand UNL Railroad Club

Connor Mullen, president of the UNL Railroad Club

A life-time lover of locomotives, Connor Mullen founded the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Railroad Club so he could share his passions for modeling and studying trains with other “real fans” on campus.

Mullen, a senior history and political science major originally from Ireland, founded the Railroad Club in the Spring of 2017 after some students on campus expressed interest.

“Curtis Walker, the club’s co-founder, and I met during my sophomore year and immediately did a round of posters to get our name out there,” Mullen said. “It took us until the next year to gain the funding and faculty supervisor we needed.”

Zachary Vyhlidal, the club’s social media manager and Mullen’s close friend, was amazed and interested when he saw the posters advertising this club on the UNL campus.

“I have liked looking at and building trains for as long as I can remember,” Vyhlidal said. “I am thankful Mullen had the idea to start this up.”

Mullen said even though the club is still small in number despite its formation about a year ago, they have a strong community formed of students who are passionate railroad and train modeling fanatics.

Train modeling and building, Mullen’s main hobby and the hobby of the other Railroading Club members, contains many different elements.

“The process of railroading includes carpentry to build the train cars, electrical wiring to make the train run on the tracks, various art forms for the different scenes throughout the railroad, photography and even video-making,” Mullen said.

Model locomotives

Mullen and the club just recently received a generous donation from a model train collector in Peru, Neb., which will hopefully bring more attention to the group.

The collector gifted his prized possessions to the club in hopes of his collection being used as a learning tool for the members. His collection includes locomotives, freight cars, buildings, scenery and match box cars.

Mullen and the other club members are in search of a permanent place on campus where they can build a railroad set using the donated pieces and have room to expand. In hopes of helping the club continue to grow, Mullen has tentatively set up a trainfest to serve as a fundraiser and an expansion for their club.

“Trains and railroading sounds simple, but in actuality it tends to evolve into taking up much of your basement and other working spaces,” Mullen said. “Friends get together, and model trains begin to run like a real railroad.”

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