The Club & It's History
The New Haven Society of Model Engineers, Inc., was chartered on April 12, 1932. We are the third oldest continuously operating model railroad club in the United States. We are a non-profit educational and historial organization whose aim is to preserve and promote model railroading. We work with schools, both regular and adult education, libraries and other community organizations and exhibit our portable layout at such places as the Amherst Railroad Hobby Show at the "Big E" fair grounds in West Springfield, MA. The "O" scale layout that we exhibit is 12 x 50feet wide. We also have a portable "HO" Scale layout that we travel to shows in CT.
Back in 1932, the club originally met once a month in the houses of their eight members. As membership grew, they decided in 1935 that it was time to expand and build a layout of their own. They rented a third floor room at 223 State Street in New Haven, CT. Here they developed a layout in 850 square feet of space that contained 660 feet of track length, 47 switches were laid and 16,000 minature ties were used. There were 4 miles of electrical wiring and 35,000 spikes in place.
March 27, 1938 marked the club's first annual exhibit to the public. Two years later in 1940, the dedication exercises for our famous Scherzer Rolling Lift Bridge was held. The lift bridge which is a replica in miniature of the span over the Housatonic River at Devon, CT on the N.Y. N.H. & H. Railroad was constructed over a two year period by member Al Schellback. This bridge has over 30,000 rivets, each of which was put in by hand. The bridge weighs about 100lbs. and is counterbalanced by the weights attached to the upper structure.
March 31, 1940 marked the last show to be held at the 233 State Street location until the club set up at the corner of State and Court Streets. We had our fourth show in 1942 and stayed in this location until 1968. Due to redevelopment in New Haven, the club had to move to Branford. Shortly after in 1973, the club picked up again and moved to a larger location in Meriden, CT. 80 South Vine Street in Meriden provided the largest area for the club to build in. They soon got to work on developing both "HO" and "O" scale layouts in a 37 x 160 foot area. Unfortunately, in 1976, after much construction and several public shows, the Society found that its financial situation could no longer support the ever increasing building rent and they soon left Meriden.
The club with out a home reverted back to gathering at its member's houses. We then decided to build a modular "O" scale layout so we could retain public exposure. The layout today is 12 x 50 foot and the Rolling Lift bridge is still in service on a rolling module.
In late December 1988, the Society moved into a new home in the New Haven Union Railroad Station. Plans were made for an "HO" scale layout and the "O" scale layout was refined. The Society decided to offer classes in basic model railroading at Adult Education Facilities in Wallingford and Meriden, CT. Classes continue to be offered in Wallingford.
In July, 1994 the Society was notified that it must vacate the New Haven Station. In 1995, the club moved into the Wallingford Railroad Station. The Society is still there with a 15 x 30 foot "HO" scale layout under construction. The Society has also built a portable "HO" scale layout, so that we can attend smaller train shows where our "O" scale layout would be to large. We also have our own railroad show which is being held at Xavier High School, Middletown, CT this year. The Society consists of about twenty-five men and women.