Vivid imagination and meticulous attention to detail brings miniature world to life

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(WBIR-Talbott) He calls it the Bluff City Southern Railroad, serving the Memphis area in the summer of 1950.

"There's no rationale for that date other than that's when we had both steam and diesel," Allen Keller said.

Before Allen Keller bought his house in Talbott he made sure it would accommodate the world he created to 1/87th HO scale. A camera can show only one small portion of the layout at a time.

He built every bit of it but he needs almost a dozen people to operate it, each with a specific duty: yard operators, passenger station, dispatcher and more.

"It's not running trains in circles or just running from here to there. We try to operate it like a miniature transportation system, if you will," he explained.

The set up fills his entire basement. It's big as well as small. The tiny details are fascinating.

He pointed out a tiny scene of two guys in a boat with another in the water. "You can interpret this in one of two ways. Either they're tying to rescue the guy or they're using them as trolling bait for alligators," he said.

The miniature scenes show someone working in a field, another with car trouble, someone else mowing the lawn.

He wants each scene to tell a story.

"It's not just stuff that's arbitrary. It's something that maybe you saw something like that. Maybe you didn't see a scene just like that but you saw something... oh yeah, I've seen that, but you really haven't because I just made it all up," he said. "I like to think of it as 3D art. And in any kind of artistic expression what you are trying to do is find the things that are interesting and eliminate the dull stuff."

By that standard Allen Keller's art form is a success.

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