There are a number of model railroad clubs in the Delaware Valley and this time of year they open their clubhouses for the public to view their layouts. In addition, a handful of people open up their private, in-home layouts to the public, and some of these rival the club layouts. I’m a model and toy train enthusiast and have been for years. While engaged to be married but with nothing to furnish a new household I wrote to my bride-to-be from my base in Europe that I could get some great bargains in German and Austrian-made HO trains over there. Imagine her enthusiasm.
I’ve been travelling around to some of the club and private layouts and it has been fun. Here are scenes from two of the private layouts. Photography was difficult; there were too many visitors and the aisles were too narrow to permit using a tripod. So, using available light at the necessarily slow speed and hand-held shooting results in some slightly fuzzy pictures. On the left is a scene from the Rancocas Valley Lines layout in Cinnaminson NJ. On the right is a scene from the Patcong Valley Model Railroad Club in Richland NJ, as are the bottom two scenes. Both layouts have open houses on the coming weekends. For details click on their highlighted names above.
The level of detail and realism is impressive. There are typically three to five trains running at once on a layout, each under the control of an engineer, with overall control by a dispatcher who oversees the whole railroad, assigning routes to each engineer. The engineers walk alongside or near their trains and control them with handheld controllers which may be wireless or may plug into the layout fascia here and there.
Below are two pictures of a layout built by a friend of mine. This layout is more in the tradition of old-time Christmas toy train layouts, particularly with the use of German-Swiss-Austrian style buildings.