Many area residents have fond memories of awakening Christmas morning to the sights and sounds of a model train circling under a warmly lit tree, or watching a display of trains in a frosty department store window. Keeping those holiday memories alive is an important objective of the membership of the Anthracite Model Railroad Club.
AMRS members are continuing a long-standing tradition by hosting their annual Holiday Open House. The tradition started soon after the club found its first home in the 1980s. Each year, new generations are introduced to the hobby. Some visitors make the pilgrimage from out of state, while others are close neighbors. Some are brought in by a love of trains, others come with their parents or grandparents, and still other find the club by accident.
Al visitors are invited to step back in time to the late 1940 and early 1950, the era depicted in the custom built, 21 foot by 48-foot foot layout consisting of two interconnected levels of track. Club members have developed miniaturized versions of towns and villages in our area. The upper level features scenes along the Lehigh Valley's right of way including Hazleton, Weatherly, Cross Creek, Ashmore, Jeddo, Drifton and Eckley.
Visitors will see historic structures stretching from Church Street on the west to Cedar Street on the east. Visitors will recognize historic Hazleton structures including Hazleton's 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 stream locomotives and a multi-stall diesel shop.
Visitors will also see the Drifton and Jeddo breakers as well as a section of underground coal mine. The village of Eckley includes the breaker, Company Store, Immaculate Conception and St. James churches, the Emerald House, workers' houses, and mule barn.
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 club will be open from noon to 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 26; and throughout December the club will be open from noon to 7 p.m. Saturdays and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays. Admission is free, 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 visit the AMRS website at www.armclub.org.