World of Trains™
concept started with a spark during the holiday
season with a few Greenville, SC area model
In early 2010 a meeting with 10 of these model
railroaders and the decision was made to create a
non profit for the project. At the time Roland
Stadelmann was elected president since he stated he
could get funding right off for the project from his
client base. $1.5M was needed for Phase I.
Other board of director members where Frank Ruby,
Marcus Weller and Ed Eichelberger.
The main team voted and it was determined that the
non profit name would be Mini World despite the
disagreement with the name as it was similar to a
European model train display the was currently
The paperwork was filed for the 501c3 in June 2010
and a website was created by Frank Ruby under the
Miniature World of Trains™
With the paperwork filed for the non profit work
bean to find a secure funding commitments, venue
location and creation of a small demonstration
There was a board meeting in June before Frank
Ruby's travel to NMRA Convention in Milwaukee to
secure commitments from the major model railroad
In this meeting it was determined that Roland
Stadelmann and Marcus Weller had not done any of the
duties they where assigned and agreed to do to move
the project forward. The next day they resigned from
After the resignations, Frank Ruby stepped up to be
President of the non profit, Ed Eichelberger
remained as board member and Mike Jensen and Ed
Kreach come on as board members and advisors. They
where willing to do the needed work.
Frank Ruby went to Milwaukee and secured sponsorship
for the project from Walthers, Digitrax, Soundtraxx,
Woodland Scenics, Bachmann, Lionel, MTH-Railking,
Williams by Bachmann, TCS, Athearn and others in
smaller capacities. Also Lowes Home Improvement was
the main construction materials supplier as well as
Hubbell Lighting for all of the track lighting
Then 501c3 was approved in September 2010!
At this point Ed Eichelberger contact Siemens
Corporation for sponsorship since there corporate
office in Germany has a large employee club model
railroad in the basement under the main cafeteria.
Since Siemens had 7 division that all could tie into
the project they agree to sponsor the project at
$200K be division which would be $1.4M.
With the sponsorship almost wrapped up in mid
December our contact at Siemens went back to Germany
for the holidays before finalizing the donation for
sponsorship. When he returned in 2011 Siemens went
through a corporate reorganization and puff --- the
$1.4M was gone!
At this point some progress was made in securing
cash funding but cash was hard to come by.
In October 2011 the Children's Museum of the Upstate
asked MWOT™ to
create a small Christmas Display for the holiday
season. It was created with two weeks and was at the
museum for the 2011 holiday season. This display
help get the word out about the project.
At this point GADC, Greenville Convention and
Visitors Bureau and the City Of Greenville helped
get the word out but the project was stalled without
a major influx of cash.
Roland Stadelmann rejoined the team promising again
to the funding for the project. After 2 months he
again left the team after no producing!
At this point Frank Ruby began negotiating with the
owners of the old Sam's Club on Laurens Rd. While
the building was over 100,000sf it was feasible for
many many variations inside and out. Lease would
have be just $20k per month with $165K deposit
needed. Unfortunately the project could not
garner the funds needed and the building was sold
and then torn down.
Next up, a new Christmas Display for the City of
This display was for the holiday season of 2011 and
was a huge success! So much so that Food Lion wanted
us to take over one of their closed grocery stores.
After 4 months of negotiations terms could not be
reached. Then literally that same day a 5,000sf
space became available in downtown Greenville, SC.
The owner was open to what the project was about and
the current Board Of Directors agreed to do a very
scaled down version of what the project wanted to
do. It would be called the BETA Test.
A 3 year lease was negotiated for the test. Just in
case it failed.
Due to delays with approvals from the city until
October not much could be done delaying the BETA
Test construction start by 3 months!
Once approvals where received from the city interior
rehab started with what little money was available
at the time. But at this point bigger donations
started to come in.
MWOT™ Phase I
was started in mid November and the Christmas Model
opened the day after Thanksgiving and was open until
January 2013 while the MWOT™
was being created. The venue was closed from
3 1/2 months without and customers visiting the
20 volunteers working 7 days a week created the
project BETA TEST in just 120 days!
A city construction project started in October 2012
that severally restricted parking in the area which
The BETA Test was a success despite the parking
issues. Some 80,000 visitors came to the venue
without any advertising!
By the end of the lease though people where
coming, the city approved a new building right that
would block the view of the venue from Falls Park
and Main Street. Also, the city would be closing the
street where the main entrance was, the city was
allowing a 8 story construction crane in front of
the main entrance. So we had to close with nowhere
The non profit was dissolved in July 2015
Fast forward to 2019.
Kelly Orr and Frank Ruby began to re-imagine the
project as a for profit with investors.
Some initial funding was received and other
investors where fund. Two locations where found but
yet again the buildings where sold by the
owners leaving the project out in the cold again!
Now it was Covid's turn for delaying the project. All of the
investors pulled out but Kelly Orr and Frank
Ruby still are wanting to do the project but put it on
Fast forward again to late 2021 and the for profit
began the search for a new location. Several where
found and negotiations again started. Some funding has
been committed to for PHASE I but more is
needed from investors and donors but with the war
in Ukraine delayed the project again.
A major fund raising campaign was started at the end
of April 2022 via Model Railroader and Classic Toy
Trains Magazines, the NMRA Magazines and Model
Railroad Hobbyist online magazine. Also a new Crowd
Funding Campaign was started on Patreon as well.
But at this point in May 2022 we should be able to
commit to a location sometime between now and the
3rd or 4th quarter of 2022.