With a history dating back to 1939, the Rochester Model Railroad Club is one of the oldest such clubs in the country.
Five model railroaders started construction of the HO layout, which depicts the Seneca Valley Lines, in the basement of a small radio and electronics store on Genesee Street. The organization was originally called the Kodak City Model Railroad Club. At one point, the club was housed in a building where the Riverside Convention Center now stands.
In 1983, the club changed its name to its current moniker and became an educational, nonprofit organization dedicated to teaching people the hobby of model railroading.
In 1989, the club moved to its current location in the basement of the First Universalist Church in Rochester. A new layout was started and currently measures 40-by-60 feet. It features a HO scale railroad built to capture the flavor and operation of railroading from Jersey City, through northeast Pennsylvania and the rolling hills of western New York to the busy city of Buffalo. The mainline of the railroad is double-tracked and is approximately 350 feet long. Geneva Station, Victor, Rochester Junction, Caledonia and the Buffalo Lackawanna Terminal are represented in miniature along the railroad.
Members used photos, actual plans, on-site visits and pictures to recreate many of the scenes, buildings and bridges of the various railroads and towns in the area, including the Lehigh Gorge.
The club’s annual open house will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on March 2 and 1 to 5 p.m. on March 3 at First Universalist Church, 150 S. Clinton Ave., Rochester. There will be a continuous parade of trains, ranging from early steam-powered locomotives to modern diesels. Thomas the Tank Engine will make a special appearance.
Admission is $5 for adults and free for ages 12 and younger, with a $15 maximum for families. The basement is not handicapped-accessible. Call (585) 301-6172 or visit rocmrrc.com for information.