The 2011 Rochester Model Railroad Club’s Annual Open House takes place on SATURDAY, MARCH 5, from 10 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. and SUNDAY, MARCH 6 from 1:00 P.M. to 5:00 P.M.

When I grew up, many families had a model train set that added an air of festivity to Christmas by circling the base of the Christmas tree, even if it was used at no other time of the year.  Although those days seem to have disappeared, there are still many devotees of model railroading who work together to recreate miniature reproductions of the historic communities through which railroads were once one of the most important and popular forms of transportation and transport.

Caledonia Station has been recreated

This coming Saturday and Sunday, the Rochester Model Railroad Club will host an open house at their “home” in the basement of the Universalist Unitarian Church at 150 South Clinton Avenue in Rochester.  Many of the scenes depicted in the layout of the now defunct Lehigh Valley Railroad, which ran from Jersey City to Buffalo,  have been carefully researched for accuracy using photos and the maps originally created by the Sanborn Map Company for fire insurance assessment.

The Rochester Railroad Club that hosts the open house began in the early 20th Century as a Kodak Club, then separated from Kodak.  After several moves, the Club took up residency at its current location about 20 years ago.  It currently has about 50 active members, the eldest of which is a former Captain of the fire department and is 96 years young. 

“The great thing about model railroading is that it teaches so many skills,” shared Bill Crocca, an active member of the club. “Railroad modeling teaches you about history and doing research to make the scenes authentic.  Some of our members are good at scene painting, others construct the buildings. Few people realize how many skills are required to do an authentic layout.” 

Bill explained that the trains are now all computerized and one even has a camera in the engine so viewers can see the landscape as the engineer would see it. 

“The only problem is that it’s on the same frequency as some of the security cameras in the neighborhood, so sometimes we get interference,” he laughed. 

If you would like to see the Rochester Model Railroad Club at work, or you’re interested in becoming a member, they meet on Monday evenings in the basement of the church.  But be advised that some Mondays, work is taking place and the trains are not running. 

To see the layout in action, featuring  a 350 foot double track main line, a trolley line operating on the overhead wire and up to 10 trains operating at once through scenes depicting the former Lehigh Valley Railroad, come to the Club’s Annual Model Railroad Show this weekend.  The Open House will be held Saturday, March 6 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, Marc 7 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the basement of the Universalist Unitarian Church located at 150 S. Clinton Avenue in Rochester. Suggested donations are $3 per adult, $2 per child to a maximum of $10 per family.  Refreshments available.