Holding an open house since 1975, the model railroad club opened its doors at 400 Main Street Saturday and Sunday to an estimated 400 visitors.
"Everyone needs a little rest and relaxation whether its watching football, boating or this," said Dawson Turner, of West Chester. Turner is a return visitor to the train show and a model train enthusiast. With the help of his family, he plans to build a model train in his basement this year.
The railroad club's 40-foot-by-40-foot model forms an L shape in the basement of what are several doctor's offices at the Fourth and Main streets location. The point-to-point model, which means that trains travel in a loop passing the same points, shares characteristics and some station names with the Reading line.
The model represents a track that runs from Philadelphia to Harrisburg with mountains, tunnels and bridges complete with buttons for sound effects such as train whistles, trucks and barking dogs. The miniature buildings, people, factories, landscaping and scenes created show member's attention to detail and craftsmanship.
Schuylkill Valley Model railroaders aren't sure how much time or money has been spent on the models because work has been gradual since moving to their current location in 1972. Club expenses are paid for by membership dues and the annual open house, which is free of charge but offers a chance to win a train set with a $2 donation.
Jerry Powell and Jim Campbell, the original charter members, began holding meetings in Powell's basement in 1968. Currently, there are 22 members that meet Tuesday evenings to discuss and improve on the model that remains at the location.
During the open house, controllers of various ages, stand behind the displays and in front of the sky painted walls, to navigate the trains for onlookers. The self-supporting, non-profit group is open to anyone in the area that is at least 18 years old.
Tyler Campbell,11, grandson of Jim Campbell, has been interested in model railroading since he was three years old. Tyler, who has a train at home also, operated a train at the show for the first time this year.
"It's fun running the trains and delivering people," said Tyler who was supervised, as with any member under 18.
Responsibilities come with interest for members of the club. Experienced members will guide a new member in whatever they want to learn.
"We have a variety of individuals and a variety of interests from electrical work, to building and running the trains," said Tony Dulisse, a member for nine years. "There are so many aspects of it, that's what makes model railroading what it is."
About 30 trains are featured at the open house with six to eight running at once according to Dulisse who has ten of his own trains in the show. Trains on display at the open house are a mixture of club owned and individual member's trains.
"This is a train haven," said Dilusse, "If you like trains, this is the place to be."
Open house continues Jan. 10 and 11, 17 and 18 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
For more information, contact the Schuylkill Valley Model Railroad Club Tuesday or Friday evenings at 610-935-1126.