The Old Stagecoach Stop now has a model stagecoach, thanks to a Waynesville city councilman and his unique hobby.

The Old Stagecoach Stop now has a model stagecoach, thanks to a Waynesville city councilman and his unique hobby.

For the past three months,  Jim Matthews has spent his days piecing together the thousands of tiny components that make up the Southwestern Stage Company stagecoach model — the exact miniature replica of the stagecoaches that passed through Waynesville more than 150 years ago.

He used nanoscale pin-striping tape to paint the fine lines that are hardly visible to the naked eye. He constructed the miniature wagon wheels and laid the floor boards down, piece by piece. He built the tiny stairs that lead to the wagon, where he strategically placed three rows of seating, just like a real stagecoach.  

“If you shrunk an actual stagecoach down, it would look exactly like this, down to every hook and hole” Matthews said.

Matthews is a retired school teacher. He loves the challenge and the great attention to detail required in model building. He is also seriously committed to his hobby. From Monday through Friday every week, Matthews spends model building from 1 to 4 p.m.

“It requires a lot of dedication, but you have to keep going,” Matthews said. “The fun of it is the challenge. I don't know how I'm going to finish a lot of the projects I start and that's what I love about  it.”

He said he tried building his first model ship when he was a kid, before the age of the Internet.

“When I ran into a problem then, I just stopped and couldn't go any further,” he said.

 Matthews said that now whenever he runs into problems with his models, he is able to seek support from others online.

“The Internet is now my salvation,” he said. “Now, you can just get on the Internet and there are thousands of people who will help you.”

Matthews recently won an award at a national convention for the third model ship he made, which took him three years.

Matthews said he enjoys learning the history behind the structures he creates. While building the stagecoach, he learned that people would pack themselves in the covered wagons for the long, slow journeys with less than a foot of space each. He said stagecoaches used to carry mail and moved very slowly, about five to 10 miles per hour.

“The stagecoaches really had trouble in this area because of the hills,” Matthews said. “It was not a comfortable journey.”

Matthews' model stagecoach will be on display at the Old Stagecoach Stop in Waynesville, starting Saturday at Old Settlers Day.