Scenes from old Mauch Chunk comprise a large portion of this year's custom-built model railroad display located on Hanover Court in Hazleton.

Members of the Anthracite Model Railroad Society began constructing the 21 foot-by-48-foot layout in 1997. The two interconnected levels of track contain about 1,200 feet of HO gauge track, which is made up of roughly 600 feet of flex track and 575 feet of hand-laid track, and includes more than two miles of low voltage electrical wiring.

The miniaturized towns and villages reflect the local area. The upper level features scenes of Hazleton, Weatherly, Cross Creek, Ashmore, Jeddo, Drifton and Eckley. Visitors will see historic Hazleton structures stretching from Church Street on the west to Cedar Street on the east.

On the lower level, visitors will see historic Mauch Chunk (Jim Thorpe) including detailed models of the D&H station, Court House, Asa, and Harry Packer Mansions, Lehigh Navigation Building and St. Marks Church.

In addition visitors will have a chance to see models of the now destroyed Lehigh Valley Station and the Hotel Wanetah. Also featured on the lower level are the Packerton Yard, Bethlehem Steel, Thole Valley (a mythical country village), the Lehigh River, and the Lehigh Canal with mule-drawn, coal-hauling barges.

The display also features "repaved" Hazleton's downtown streets, street lights, street signs, animated crossing signals, traffic lights, and interior lights in many of the buildings. Visitors will recognize historic Hazleton structures including the Lehigh Valley Station, the Blue Comet Diner, Kresge's, Deisroth's and the Markle Bank building.

Adjacent to Hazleton, the Lehigh Valley yard has been renovated and several railroad shops and buildings have been added. In Ashmore, visitors will see an engine terminal with a "half-circle" roundhouse, facilities for coaling and watering steam locomotives and a multi-stall diesel shop.

The Drifton and Jeddo breakers as well as a section of an underground coal mine are also featured. The village of Eckley includes the breaker, Company Store, Immaculate Conception and St James' Churches, the Emerald House, workers' houses, and mule barn.

A new, large, trestle bridge has been added to the layout replacing an older bridge, and work continues on reconstructing a dual gauge line that will carry standard and narrow gauge trains.

The club opens its doors on weekends during the holiday season. During November they will hold a special Thomas and FriendsĀ® open house for Thomas the Tank EngineĀ® fans on Saturday, Nov. 19, noon to 7 p.m., and Sunday Nov. 20, 1-5 pm. During this open house only Thomas and Friends trains will be run.

Other November open houses will be Friday the 25th from 5-7 p.m., and Saturday the 26th from noon to 7 p.m. Admission is free, and donations are appreciated.

The club is located at 1057 Hanover Court (between 22 and 23 Street) in Hazle Township. For a complete listing of December and January open houses and directions to the club house, please visit the AMRS website at http://www.amrclub.org/events.htm