The Delaware and Susquehanna Model Railroad Club is an HO scale model railroad club comprised of local professionals and tradesmen who share an interest in modeling the historic railroads of the northeastern United States. The Club has recently incorporated after sixteen years of operating as the Porta Rail Group. This change in status is the result of our ongoing efforts to be recognized as a tax-exempt 501c3 educational organization. The Club has operated a large modular display layout of detailed construction at various model train shows, historic and railroad related venues and concurrently conducted training clinics in the various aspects of the hobby. Historically there were numerous opportunities in the tri state area for display at various locations. These opportunities have decreased significantly in the last few years, resulting in the layout being exhibited one or two times per year. The Club has been searching for a location that would be accessible to the public where we could continue our previous exhibition and clinic routine.
The opportunity afforded by the offer to lease the Haddon Heights train station provides a much-welcomed opportunity to both relocate the Club and expand its educational outreach opportunities. The opportunity is particularly unique in that model railroading would take place within an actual train station.
It all started in the summer of 1986 when three of us got together to try our hand at some scenery techniques we had read about in the model press. We all were members of others clubs, however we decided we would like to experiment and play with new techniques.
We started to build a “scenic module” to practice rock casting, modeling water and other scenery techniques. We built a 2′ x 6’section, laid some track across it and started scenery. We laid out the ideas; an industry or two, a river scene, etc., and then we started building. Six months later, we were finished – right down to the litter and weeds, but we having too much fun to stop, so we started building another section! We arranged this second section so that it would connect to the first section and continue the theme we had started with the first section.
After a short period of time, two more friends got into the action and the five of us completed the second section in about five months. At that time, a visitor suggested that we show these two completed sections at a local train show. The idea intrigued us, so we packed up the two sections into specially made crates and off we went.
We never expected the type of response we received! People were asking about our standards (of which we really had none), about how to join our club (which didn’t exist) and where the rest of the layout was (of which there wasn’t any). At this point we began to ponder letting this project grow, but we knew that if this project was to continue we should organize ourselves to some degree and find a space to continue this madness.
The five of us sat down and discussed what we were going to do and what was the best way to do it, based on our experience from past clubs. We drew up some long-range goals for our group so that we would have some direction. We then incorporated in November 1987 as The Porta-Rail Group, Inc. In late 2003, the membership voted to reorganize the club and created our ‘parent club’, the Delaware & Susquehanna Model Railroad Club.
Today, the club is still going strong and continues to grow. We meet one night a week and have a business meeting on the first Wednesday of each month. In addition to working on the layout, the members enjoy showing their work at various shows including many private functions. We also participate at many local events, giving clinics on various modeling and railroading topics.