‘Some Kind of Quest’ to maintain the largest model train set

“Some Kind of Quest” is about a man chasing windmills. Not literal windmills, of course, but the kind of thing that’s absurd or crazy.

Bruce Williams Zaccagnino’s windmill is Northlandz, the 52,000-square-foot miniature model train museum in Flemington, New Jersey. Track by track, he painstakingly designed and built this museum over 16-plus years.

Directed by Andrew Wilcox and filmed by Matt Clegg over half a year, their 11-minute documentary showcases Zaccagnino’s creation within Northlandz. More than 100 model trains run over 50,000 feet of rail road track over 400 bridges.

Zaccagnino’s quixotic quest began in the ’70s when he began building the model train set in his basement. Over the years, it grew and grew as Zaccagnino spent 17-hour days with his trains. Now, it takes about two and a half hours to walk through the mazes in Northlandz. Zaccagnino considers expanding.

Still, he’s erecting ephemeral monuments. Zaccagnino’s getting older and business is slow. There’s no plans for succession after he retires as the museum’s curator. And his hobby can easily put him in debt. His friends also think he’s an idiot for living with model trains as his companions.

Despite it all, Zaccagnino chases after that impossible dream — that quest to entertain somebody with his life’s work. For now, at least, if the windmills keep turning, Zaccagnino will keep running into them.

“Some Kind of Quest” was directed by Andrew Wilcox and premiered in Western New York as part of the tenth annual Buffalo International Film Festival.

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