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Southern Pacific Railroad History Center

Mark Brown


Born and raised in the City and County of San Francisco, California, Mark Brown grew up in the backyard of the mighty Southern Pacific Company, and thanks to his Grandfather, was an SP stockholder from birth.  As such, the Southern Pacific name became synonymous with daily life in “The City” and eventually Mark became increasingly interested in the operations of the railroad.  A couple of visits to the Third and Townsend Street passenger station, and a roundtrip joyride with his Father on the Commute to San Jose and back, sealed the Southern Pacific Railroad into his blood.  It was at this point that Mark decided modeling the SP would be the best way to manifest his interests.


Driven to model the Southern Pacific exactly in the way he saw it, Mark sought out at a young age different methods of replicating locomotives, passenger cars, freight cars, structures, and the railroad itself.  At age 13, he constructed a 10x17 foot layout in his downstairs room to simulate the Southern Pacific right-of-way between San Francisco and San Jose.  Upon moving to the Portland, Oregon area at age 16, he began studying the complex operations of the Southern Pacific in that state.  As he remained in Western Oregon to attend college, this gave him more access to become further acquainted with the main line and many of the branch line operations of the railroad.  Modeling did not cease with the advent of college.  When not studying, Mark diligently worked on custom detailing many out-of -the-box Southern Pacific locomotive models that caught the curious eye of many college dorm mates.  Throughout this time, Mark continued to design and draw layout plans, one after another, in an attempt to produce the most prototypical replication of various Southern Pacific lines including the Cascade Line, Overland Route, and Coast Lines.


Upon moving back to California in 1997, Mark’s layout focal point landed on the Overland Route.  The modeling continued as before, with the addition of scratch building locomotives, cars, and structures to create models not available commercially.  All the while, Mark did not forget his roots.  With a deep affection for the now-demolished Third and Townsend Station in San Francisco, he has embarked on an ambitious project to recreate the entire terminal facility, spanning a full one-half mile in HO scale.


Mark is a regular member of the Southern Pacific Historical and Technical Society, where he held the co-chairman position in hosting the 2015 Annual Conference in Sacramento, California. He has also been a member of the Sacramento Model Railroad Historical Society since 1997, and held a position on their Board of Directors for three years.  Past memberships have also included the Peninsula Model Railroad Club in San Mateo, California, and the Columbia Gorge Model Railroad Club in Portland, Oregon.


Mark holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Oregon State University, and is a registered Professional Engineer in the State of California.  He currently works as a Senior Engineer for the City of Sacramento, providing design and construction services for Public Works projects.

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