Model Railroad Club heads to Springfield – Elmhurst, IL – Elmhurst Press

To build a convincing model railroad layout, you need varied talents — electricians, painters, history buffs and others — all working together. Every detail and contribution leads to another. And if you look closely, as the train passes period-specific cars, drive-in theaters and mid-century America main streets, you see the stories unfold.

On one miniature country road is a figurine of a soldier kissing his girlfriend in front of his Corvette as a greyhound bus drives away. Further along the track, there are downed power lines, and the utility men are out for repairs. The ground around a nearby factory is dark and damp — this is before the Environmental Protection Agency’s founding — and it has been dumping oil right into the soil and letting it run into a creek.

The attention to detail is striking, and now aided by technology, pinhead-sized LED lights allow the club to add headlights on the matchbox-size cars passing through the retro downtowns. A small LCD screen is inserted into the drive-through movie theater kit, connected to a video player hidden under the layout.
There is a make-believe playfulness and tongue-in cheek sense of humor. A model factory is named “Hoffa Concrete,” after the infamous union boss Jimmy Hoffa, supposedly buried under Giant Stadium in New Jersey by mobsters.

But, the focus is still on the locomotives. And with a layout this big, the train can pull nearly 200 cars.

“Running the train,” said Club Board Member Tom Fretch. “That’s the whole point of it.”

It looks like The Elmhurst Model Railroad Club is worth a visit.

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