Hometown Hero, Harry Heil, Spent Decades Building a Steam Engine by Hand for his Grandkids

Updated: Sep 11

Harry Heil of Nephi, Utah spent 38 years building a steam engine train for his 43 grandchildren to come over to ride. He has a passion for trains and he has spent decades building his dream wheels. He builds miniature steam engines and has been working on this for over half of his life: 38 years to be exact. Harry Heil first got his passion for trains from his dad who was a Union Pacific surveyor in the 1920s.

Heil was recently featured on local Salt Lake City stations KSL TV and KSL RADIO.

According to an article written by Michele Rowe, Heil said, “This is an American 440, “I built it. It took 38 years to build. (It) excites me, and I guess it’s the boy in me. I hope I never grow up.”

Heil loves his craft so much, he’s building another bigger engine. At over 300 pounds, it should one day be able to pull up to ten adults. “I was hoping to have it already running, but it has its own mind,” Heil said with a laugh.

Heil received recognition from the Metal My Way contest, a contest for machinists across the U.S and Canada.

Behind every great accomplishment is usually a support group. Heil is no exception; he says he had the support of his family. “I was able to have a good family that supported me in my madness,” he said.

Another factor Heil has had to work around is dyslexia, a condition he didn’t know he had until he started his teaching career. “We didn’t figure this out until after I started teaching college, but I have dyslexia,” he said. “If I can do it with my little handicap, anybody could do it,” he said.

He loves sharing his passion with his

grandkids. Heil says he has a finished train for them to ride when they come to visit — and he hopes one day it will inspire the next generation to follow in their grandfather and great-grandfather’s footsteps.

We want a ride, Harry! Thanks for being Nephi City's Hometown Hero.

Nugent Magazine loves sharing GOOD NEWS, if you have a Hometown Hero or Good News story you would like us to share, please contact us on our website www.nugentmagazine.com or email Gina at gina@nugentmagazine.com

Photos Courtesy KSL-TV and Metal My Way.

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