HOW IT ALL STARTED
According to a knowledgeable source, an article in a local newspaper in 1993 indicated that a meeting would be held in the Fishersville Library for those interested in model railroading. Several folks attended these meetings but interest soon dwindled for lack of actual modeling. This early beginning got a boost when one of the founders obtained the use of a vacant building next to a cement plant in Staunton. This building became the hub of operations and was known as the “club house”, housing some modules that were set up so members could run and test model trains. Thus, the AUGUSTA COUNTY RAILROAD CLUB came into existence and was modular in nature. The club endeavors to promote the hobby of model railroading and bring together people with different interests and talents for the benefit of all members. They try to re-create the history of railroading by constructing authentic scenes from the past and present
A set of bylaws was drawn up and approved by the nine members that constituted the club at that time. Attorneys advised that the club should incorporate and that condition still exists today. In a letter dated January 2001, the IRS granted the club a not-for-profit 501 (c) (3) status and we became officially known as the AUGUSTA COUNRY RAILROAD MUSEUM. We are also still known as the Augusta Model Railroad Club.
The modules are nominally two feet wide and four or six feet long, depicting various scenes ranging from rural, urban, industrial, mountainous, etc., with tracks near the front edge. They are portable in nature and can be set up end-to-end, interconnected electrically so model trains can run uninterrupted over the entire length of the setup. For a number of years, these modules were then transported, setup and used to display model railroading at various public places for special occasions on a temporary basis alternately in Richmond, Waynesboro, Staunton and Harrisonburg.
FIRST “PERMANENT” LAYOUT
Then, a club newsletter dated June 2003 states that “We were asked to open to the public by the other businesses to do a Train Show June 28, 2003”. These “other businesses” were merchants in the now non-existent Outlet Mall in Waynesboro. The members accepted the invitation and modules were set up in a vacant space on a “permanent” basis. The operation was open to the public on a monthly basis and depicted layouts in various modeling scales, including G, O (Lionel), HO and N scales, with members running their own trains, much to the delight of the visitors.
SECOND “PERMANENT” LAYOUT
The club was notified in January of 2006 that the Outlet Mall would be demolished to make room for a new Target store plus others. Thus, the search for a new location ended when the club acquired a vacant bay in the Kroger store building on Arch Avenue in Waynesboro. Operation began there in August with a long, narrow HO layout, and O and N gauge layouts. We had significant numbers of visitors and donations due to pedestrian traffic to the Oriental restaurant on one side and the Kroger store on the other side.
THIRD “PERMANENT” LAYOUT
HOWEVER – In October of 2010, we learned that Kroger had been given permission to proceed with their renovations that included the demolition of the space that we occupied. We were subsequently given notice that we had to be out by early spring 2011.
A search for a new facility resulted in the club relocating to a larger room in the Gateway Plaza Mall on West Broad Street in Waynesboro. Modules were dismantled, moved and set up in record time at the new location, with a larger HO layout. The N and O scale layouts remained pretty much the same. We were up and running on March 26
FUORTH “PERMANENT” LAYOUT
In the fall of 2014 the club was informed that the landlord of the Gateway Plaza Mall in Waynesboro wanted the property vacated in order to attract a retail business; originally the club was given till the end of the year to vacate, but it was pointed out that we had already schedule and so the club was given permission to vacate by the end of January. On November 11, 2014, an emergency business meeting was called at the Staunton Mall with 22 members attending; the club president informed the members that the Mall was offering a 5,000 square foot space in the old Hallmark store for an amount less than the club had been paying for the Gateway Plaza property, and the members unanimously approved signing the lease. During November and December of 2014 the club operated a Christmas schedule simultaneously at the Waynesboro location and in a small space in the Staunton mall, and in January the members moved the club from Waynesboro to Staunton. In the business meeting of January 15, 2015 the club voted to operate every Saturday from 1:00 to 5:00 throughout the year, and selected March 21 as the official opening of the new space, allowing February for painting, decorating and moving into the new quarters. The first public operating session in the new space was held on February 7.
LET’S GO TO THE FAIR
In 2007 the club was asked by the Augusta Co. Fair folks if we would be interested in setting up a modular display at their fair. “Well, yes”. So we have been doing just that ever since. This is a five day affair of intense train running and meeting the public and exposure and publicity, taking place early in August at their air-conditioned pavilion in Fishersville. The HO modular layout is eight feet wide and thirty-four feet long. A modular N scale layout covers two eight foot tables. These arrangements are subject to change.
The members are continuously looking for ways to improve the operation of the layouts and enhancing the scenery, thus giving opportunity to apply the various skills of all of the members. Our layouts can operate in either DC (Direct Current) or DCC (Digital Command & Control). Membership in the club is open to those interested in model railroading.
“SHOW TIME” – – –
Lastly, in early spring of 2013, the club was approached by a member of the Shenandoah Valley Railroad Club that has been sponsoring a Model Train & Railroading Show for the past 27 years if we would be interested in taking over, their membership depleting to the point that they no longer could manage it. We did some extensive research and determined that the show could be a good fund raising opportunity. Thus, it was decided that we will indeed take over the show, which always takes place on the first Sunday in May. It was moved from the Rockingham Co. Fair pavilion to the Augusta Expo pavilion in Fishersville in 2014. This year -2016 – will be the 30th annual Shenandoah Valley Model Train and Railroading Show.
To be continued – – –