Making tracks to new site

November 27, 2001

Making tracks to new site


Laying railroad tracks, even model ones, is hard work.

It has taken the members of the Cumberland Valley Railroad Club nearly five months to pack up their 28 scale miles of tracks, displays and engines and rearrange them at the club's new location, 440 Nelson St. in Chambersburg, Pa.

But just in time for its annual open houses beginning Sunday, club members were putting the finishing touches on the new display over the weekend.

"I used two weeks of vacation time and spent most evenings and weekends here," said club president John Norris.

Norris was finishing some of the electrical work and touching up scenery Sunday.

Much of the transition involved getting the new building ready while the existing layout at the former Cumberland Valley Railroad Warehouse, 140 N. Third St., was torn apart, said Bill Robinson, second vice-president.


"The building we bought was just a shell," he said. "There were no utilities but electricity. We had to put in water, sewer, gas, heat and build a bathroom."

The club, which has about 25 members, broke into two groups in July. While one group worked on the new building, the other dismantled the meticulous arrangement that took four years to create at the Third Street location.

In September, it took about five truckloads to move all of the tracks and materials, including 85 engines and 320 model buildings, to the new building, Robinson said.

"Since then, we've been busily putting together the display and trying to get the trains running," he said. "It was a chore, and I don't want to undertake it again."

But he said all of the work was worth it. The new space is nearly double in size and doesn't flood when it rains.

Because the new location is one long room, not a partitioned basement like the former site, it opened up new opportunities for layouts, Robinson said.

One wall is lined with shelves of model-size box cars. Another has framed photos of old locomotives.

The display of N-scale trains is set up so visitors can walk around it and view it from every angle, Susan Norris said.

Members also added about three scale miles of track, Robinson said.

Some scenes haven't changed, including the ski slope and a working carnival that has 10 operating rides and 530 hand-painted figures.

"We want everyone to come and see us. We're proud of what we've done and want to show it off," Robinson said.

The open houses will be from noon to 5 p.m. Dec. 2, 9, 16 and 23. The annual showing regularly draws about 400 people.

There is a lot of interest in trains in Franklin County, largely because the railroad was a staple of the region for decades.

The Cumberland Valley Railroad originated in 1835 and operated until 1919, when it was absorbed by the Pennsylvania Railroad.

Three stations were built in Chambersburg during that time, including one in 1837 on North Second Street across from what is now the Chambersburg Senior Center, the station on Third Street in 1876, and a final one in 1914 on Penn Craft Avenue.

The club is accepting new members and meets Thursdays at 7 p.m.

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