From these early meetings in the jury waiting rooms and vacant courtrooms in the evenings in the Beaver County Court House, and in membersí homes as well, there emerged the Beaver County Model Railroad Club. But it was not until 1983 before the members' ideas and handiwork could be set in motion with the construction of an operating display of trains and scenery in the Century National Bank building in Freedom, which was to serve as its quarters for 10 years.
That first effort produced a modular layout that subsequently was publicly displayed one Christmas Holiday season in the Merrick Art Gallery in New Brighton.
The following year saw the start of construction of a permanent layout from which emerged THE UNION ATLANTIC RAILROAD, an HO scale model railroad bridge route that featured equipment from many different railroads, with some 2,000 feet (nearly 30 scale miles) of mainline, branch line, marshalling yards and siding track and switches.
The layout featured mountains, streams, several towns, unusual railroad bridges, trees made from natural plants, such as goldenrod, and sometimes as many as eight trains operating on a double-track mainline, at two levels.
The upper level was accessed by two eight-foot diameter helixes, one of which consisted of five loops rising 25 inches, and the other comprised of four loops rising about 20 inches.
It was during this busy period of construction that the Club decided to incorporate and alter its name and image. From this action emerged the Beaver County Model Railroad & Historical Society, with a new task of assembling and preserving railroad memorabilia, in addition to the development of a model railroad layout that would pique the interest of the general public.
From 1987 until its final showing late in 1993, more than 5,000 persons visited the display during Christmas Holiday open house events. The layout was also one of several in Western Pennsylvania to be visited by nearly 500 members of the National Model Railroad Association during that organization's 1990 convention in Pittsburgh.
At the close of the 1993 holiday exhibition, the Society began the disassembly of its 10 years of construction effort, as the new owners of the aged building sought to acquire new tenants, and failing that, they subsequently elected to raze the structure.
For more than a year, possible sites for a new headquarters were visited throughout Beaver County. Eventually the Society selected one that had earlier been rejected, and elected to move into the former Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad station at 416 Sixth Street in Monaca.
Much renovation work had to be performed in the room, which had served for several years as a lawn mower repair shop. More than a year passed before the first pieces of wood were assembled in construction of the basic bench work for a new operating layout.
In the meantime, a layout planning committee was at work, first in the concept of a track plan, then in the design of bench work, and then on proposed track work to blend with the bench work.
Numerous track work ideas were advanced, some of which were accepted, others accepted with alterations, and still others that were considered but cast out. As construction proceeds today, changes have been made in the original scheme as the need has dictated.
The ultimate design and finished product, it is hoped, will be a combination of the most favorable ideas, featuring operations as well as continuous run- through of "hot shot" freights, express and commuter passenger trains, unit trains of coal and iron ore, and yea, even a daily milk train carrying the product from farm to dairy.
Many of the buildings and structures that were seen in the Freedom display will find their places on the new layout, along with exciting new ones, such as a complete steel mill and coal mine. Rolling stock (cars and locomotives) will be reconditioned and used in the operations.
For those of you who have taken the time to view our present work, we hope that you are impressed with our effort to compress as much train running and operations in the space available, and that you can envision what we have in store for the future.
As the Society proceeds with the redesign and reconstruction phase of its life, its present leaders are looking for new members to join its current roster.
The Society is willing to accept any items or materials relating to railroading or model railroading, for display, with appropriate acknowledgement granted to the loaner or donor. It is also the hope of Society members to acquire life size pieces of rolling stock (box car, caboose, etc.) to be placed on display on the grounds in close proximity to the Monaca quarters.
Persons interested in membership in the Society, or in offering donations of materials, equipment or toy trains, may visit the Society headquarters on Tuesday evenings (work nights) from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. They may also attend regular business meetings on the first Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. in the Society quarters.
At present the Society maintains a listing of persons who repair and restore toy trains, as well as regional hobby dealers. Please feel free to contact any of the Society officers or members for this information.
You can also visit us at any of our semi-annual Train Sales, either in the SPRING or FALL, at locations other than our headquarters. Watch for notices on the Internet, the local media, news papers and cable TV channels, and in the national railroad hobby magazines.