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Meet the Modeler: Paul Dolkos

By Rene Schweitzer | December 15, 2021

This experienced hobbyist has enjoyed model railroading for more than 60 years

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Paul Dolkos with his layout
Paul Dolkos with his layout
I’ll start with a quick look on my current railroad, an HO rendition that I call the Baltimore Harbor District. Here I’m running down Carroll Street to get into position to switch the produce terminal team tracks. Photos by Paul Dolkos

What was your first train set (or locomotive)?

Black-and-white photo of HO scale layout
I began my model railroading efforts with a 4×8 foot plywood table and some track sections in the 1950s. I have no recollection of what I was trying to do. But it does look very neat.

Before the age of 10, I received a basic Lionel set along with a couple of turnouts for Christmas. I liked it, except for that middle electrical pickup rail on the track sections. I lived with that until I discovered you could have a two-rail railroad. Later I went with my parents to a downtown Washington, D.C., hobby shop to purchase two-rail flextrack sections. The owner/clerk asked my age. I said 13, to which he stated that I might be a bit young to handle flextrack. Nevertheless, my parents supported the purchase, and I was on my way to building my first railroad.

Describe your model railroading philosophy in 6 words.

Read about and watch prototype railroading.


Modeling? Get to know the prototype.

Black-and-white photo of HO scale trolley layout
My parents moved in 1956 and in the new basement I built this 4 x 5-foot trolley layout. I did this because I’d spent time photographing streetcar lines being abandoned. I got this far with the project. I either gave it away or sold it to another trolley modeler.


What has been your biggest modeling success?

It’s been very satisfying hobby, building a number of model railroads and finding so many good friends in the hobby.

What was your biggest modeling mistake?

Nothing so serious that I couldn’t find a solution to the problem. It’s a hobby, so I put mistakes out of my mind unless it’s interesting or funny enough to talk about later.

What’s your least favorite modeling task?

No thoughts about that. If it’s a real problem for me, I probably either avoid the task or find someone who can help me.


Model Climax locomotive near trestle
The major traffic producer on the Duquesne was a coal mine. The trestle partially seen in the upper left hand corner of the photo was on the branch line to the mine. After moving out of the house, my father asked me to dismantle the railroad. I sold the 5 x 10 foot layout and lost track of what the new owner did with it.

What project(s) have you been working on recently?

Having finished my current railroad, the Baltimore Harbor District layout, I spend some time maintaining the railroad. But while recently looking for something new to do, I’m building a structure that I don’t really need but I may end up finding a home for it on the layout. The structure is being built using only with parts I already have, so if nothing else, it’s a good way to clean out some drawers.

Watch a video of Paul’s Baltimore Harbor District.

Download a desktop image of a photo taken by Paul.

Don’t miss this special issue, which includes modeling by Paul.

model tugboat in a harbor
Currently my Baltimore Harbor District is complete as originally envisioned. It took about 10 years to complete. Unless I should move, it’s unlikely that I would take it down to build something else. But you never know.

What advice would you give to a new hobbyist?

As you undertake new projects, talk to modeler friends to bounce ideas off them and avoid the mistakes we all experience.

One thought on “Meet the Modeler: Paul Dolkos

  1. Awesome article. Please pass my appreciation along to Paul for his work over the years, and let him know that I think his early trolley layout is pretty cool!

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