Living His Dream

Living His Dream
By Sally Karlsmark
Preben Karlsmark, 69, of Pennsylvania, has built one of the most intriguing and remarkable model railroad layouts in his home. Prebens story is one that will inspire any hobby enthusiast to fulfill their dream. 
Born and raised in Copenhagen, Denmark, Preben, was the son of Ingolf and Emmy Karlsmark owners of JC Nielsen, a millworking lumber yard. Preben, educated in Denmark, rose to the challenges of a tough curriculum to become a Mechanical Engineer.   Preben married his first love Maja Jensen, who truly supported their union working as a nurse in the same country while Preben studied. Completing his degree as an Engineer, he furthered himself to acquire an MBA in corporate organization. Working as an engineer for Denmark based enterprises, his career brought him to the United States, a country he always dreamed and knew he would live and work. He and Maja along with their 5 year old son, Jakob, flew into JFK, November 30, 1978 and took up residence in Westwood, NJ. This was the start of a new and different life after living in Denmark for 33 years.
With the corporate world often being an unforgiving place to aspire in one’s livelihood, Preben decided it was time to become his own enterprise. He used his education and knowledge along with incredible hard work to thrive in his own business. He owned, worked, employed, and supported his family as a franchise holder of a Minuteman Press operating out of Hohokus, NJ. He owned his franchise for almost twenty years when his wife passed away suddenly of an unexpected shocking nature. Preben was stunned with such a life changing alteration that left him sad and incredibly lonely. 
Meeting in time, his second wife, Sally Ann, he sold his business and his home in Hohokus, NJ, and took up a new residence with her at the foot of the Appalachian Mountains in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania and decided he would retire. He began the new phase of his retired life facilitating his dream of constructing a Model Railroad only 12 steps down from the first floor where they lived in their new home. 
Sally Ann can attest to the model railroad construction in HO Scale watching her husband plan and design from the beginning of what is now the S & P (San Francisco Pasadena) Railroad, fictitious. Preben always had the dream to build his railroad, but, did not necessarily always have the time, real estate or money as a working businessman.
Preben’s layout consists of a bench work platform measuring 6 feet wide by 23 feet long. He is now expanding adding yet another 4 feet by 14 foot extension. His platforms are able to manifest the operation of 8 trains running at the same time all being digital. His platform contains over 5000 feet of wire along with extensive electronics, tracks, handmade scenery, buildings, 330 railroad cars and 98 locomotives in his impressive collection.   Using his ipad, he enjoys his operation and bringing the railroad to life. To date, Preben has spent the last 5 years of his retirement building and constructing his dream something he thought would never materialize.
His son Jakob, who is married to Elizabeth, living in North Carolina, shares the same interest as his Father and is in the process of constructing an N Scale model railroad in his home. Although Jake works full time, his father is pleased to know that he enjoys the same passion. Jake and Sally Ann both have been instrumental with input of opinions, scenery ideas, painting and other suggestions as his family has and still does support his passion which is so important to anyone who is trying to realize a dream. 


Preben having an extensive background in electronics and math principles, is in the process of doing the math so that he can obtain the correct beam angles for his LED lights so that the shadows from his buildings will be straight on the layout. Once an engineer always an engineer.

Preben not only has built his railroad, he also gives advice and instruction to those who have questions and also repairs digital locomotives. His knowledge is far superior but does it purely for the love of trains.   He and Jake have traveled to Milwaukee, Wisconsin twice thus far, where they hold anually “Trainfest” . With Jake having pictures on his iphone and singing his Father’s praises to all who would listen, Preben has become known by some of the most influential people in the world of model trains. 

Preben and Sally Ann have been married for now 5 years and Preben has been living in America for almost 40 years.   He is a kind, loving, educated, husband and Father who speaks fluently English and Danish and several other languages making him a well rounded individual.

A truly remarkable man, Preben Karlsmark……owner of the San Francisco Pasadena Railroad, fictitious. Never give up on your dream!



6 Responses to Living His Dream

  1. Angela Bridgman says:

    I have seen the construction and final completion of the first phase of this railroad, and enjoyed a few hours playing on it with Preben, or “P” as I call him – and I have always been amazed at what he was able to build.

    Lived next door to P for five years, but now am in NC. I can’t wait till he finishes the second phase of the railroad, I will have to go back up and see it. P is a super-nice guy, and his engineering skills on this railroad are truly amazing.

  2. rose bridgman says:

    your train dreams are extrodinary and beautiful to boot. i have watched you move them in precise order never having a collision of any kind. You are truly a master of the rail and electric scene. Congrats and i see you have made some more wonderful things to your trains the scenery and buildings. great job may it continue to grow and become even more beautiful. your former neighbor who misses both of you very much Rose

  3. Arlene Kylrr says:

    Preben truly is a wonderful example of how to immerse yourself in your passion and therefore enrich your retirement. Sally Ann did a brilliant job sharing his story.
    Preben’s son is my son-in-law. We all marvel at how Jakob also delves deeply into trains as well as music and photography. Clearly, Preben has gotten him on the right track!

  4. Roger Heid says:

    Preben has assisted me with the publication of several blogs. He also wrote one himself. Addionally, he helped me to improve my skills with new digital equipment.
    He is truly one of the most helpful persons I have ever dealt with.

    I wish to compliment the author, Preben’s wife Sally, for supporting Preben’s dream.


    • Preben Karlsmarkj says:

      I am almost blushing from all the wonderful comments on the train layout of my dreams. As you all know I’m now adding 4 x 14 ft to it. It will consist of less tracks and a town with some industry. No meaningful pictures yet.

      Thanks again to all


  5. Sally Karlsmark says:

    It was very nice to read all the comments above and those that did take the time to post on Preben’s behalf. He is someone to look up to for his achievements and be proud. Clearly, he does know alot about trains and quite a bit about life as well. A special thank you to Roger Heid.

    Sally Ann

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