Arkansaw farm brothers win national award for model railroad creation

'You can have your own perfect little world': Afdahl brothers share a bond in farming and model railroading
Model Railroad Winners

ARKANSAW, Wis. (WKBT) – Two brothers took the time they had off this summer and created their own world.  Their project received national attention.

The farming train has derailed a time or two in the midst of economic hardship due to a world pandemic. Ninety miles north of La Crosse, and a 45-minute drive from Eau Claire, a family farm is going about its business.

“(We) have about 50 head of cattle,” Bo Afdahl said.

Two brothers wake up at sunrise every morning to keep their operation running.

“We have chores every morning, night,” Ian Afdahl said. “In summer we do a lot of chopping hay. And then fall we have harvest which on a small farm only lasts a day.”

Farms have their struggles, but Bo and Ian Afdahl say things are back on track.

“We’re doing pretty good,” Bo Afdahl said. “We have pretty high milk prices right now.”

A new survey from the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection found 83 percent of survey respondents said they’ll still be farming in five years.

COVID-19 shut things down, but these gentlemen opened up a brand new world of their own.

“I started model railroading a couple of years ago,” Bo Afdahl said. “I found some trains at a garage sale.”

While school worked out its fall semester plans these boys created a smaller version of their home country land of Arkansaw Wisconsin.

“It eventually grew into this,” he said.

Ian Afdahl takes a majority of the credit.

“I was supposed to be the one kind of into trains and then Bo caught on,” he said.

Milwaukee based model railroading company Walthers also caught on to Bo and Ian’s creation.

Their railroad design is the best in the country for the youth class of the Walthers National Model Railroad Build-Off. This project won them more than a trophy.

“It’s kind of like you can have your own perfect little world,” Bo Afdahl said. It’s a stress-free hobby.”

The project kept their education strong while schools were closed.

“You have to be able to plan and think ahead,” Bo Afdahl said. “It takes a lot of attention to detail.”

Hobbies can teach things. For Bo and Ian, it was starting something and seeing it through until the end. A pandemic can’t stop a train or what someone sets their mind to.

“Make the best of what you have,” Ian Afdahl said. “Having that thing in your mind that you are the best in the world for this class.”

Bo Afdahl said he would like to take over his family’s farm when he’s older. Ian Afdahl said he wants to do something outdoors. Both are going to continue their new passion for model railroading.