Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Train leaving city station

Received the following email about a model railroad club that must leave its home in Asbury Park, NJ after 35 years. They are having their last Open House on Saturday, 2/21/09.

Last Run of NJ Club with CNJ McMyler Dumper 2/21/09

FYI - There is an article in the Asbury Park Press and online (with
video) discussing the coming last run:

Here is the text of the article as posted on the web by the Asbury Park Press.

Asbury Park Press

February 18, 2009

Train leaving city station

Model train club must move from Asbury Park site. It's looking for a new home.


The Garden State Central Model Railroad Club has to move out of its basement headquarters of 35 years, where members created a large and intricate display depicting 1950s coal-hauling from Scranton, Pa., to Jersey City.

The club was started in Long Branch 45 years ago. Since 1973, it has had the run of the extensive basement under the medical offices of the late Dr. Richard Gosling, an early club member, and Dr. Carl R. Lepis, who is in the process of selling the building at 607 Eighth Ave. to Meridian Health.

Club members can only thank and praise the two doctors who made it possible for them to build and maintain their displays, which capture a time when railroads were the main means of delivery of goods across the country, before the extensive interstate highway system was built, said club President Jules Heiliczer, 64, of Brick.

"Meridian made it pretty clear in discussions we had with them that they can't have nonmedical people in the basement," Heiliczer said Tuesday.

He said he hoped to attend an Asbury Park City Council meeting tonight to get out the word that the club is seeking other sites in the city.

For the public — for those who have seen the display over the years and for those who never did — the club will host a free "Last Run in Asbury Park" from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Eighth Avenue club site.

After that last train run, members will start dismantling their display and headquarters.

There is no admission fee, although donations to help the club in its transition period will be accepted, said club trustee Rob Davis, 41, of Red Bank, who has been a member since he was 18.

The model railroad layout tells the story of train cars hauling coal from mines in Scranton to several Pennsylvania towns: Wilkes-Barre, Allentown, the Bethlehem Steel Co. and then to Easton on the way to Jersey City, where Central Railroad of New Jersey had a large roundhouse in the Communipaw section.

It takes about 20 minutes for the trains to make the run in the display, which features many replicas of buildings that stood in the towns years ago.

The tracks, the hills and the vegetation will not make the move into what will likely be temporary storage, the club members said. The trains and buildings will be saved.

Heiliczer said there are about 20 to 25 active members in the club, which meets every Tuesday and Friday.

Club members have had their eye on a building at Camp Evans in Wall for 10 years. But there is no guarantee the model trains will be relocated there because the Army has not finished transferring its buildings to Wall, club members said.

"We're investigating all options," Davis said. "We can't turn anything down."

The nonprofit club has little money to pay for a new space but offers its product instead: a historically accurate and detailed train layout that schoolchildren can visit.

Davis said the layout includes a one-of-a-kind working model of a McMyler high-lift coal-dumping machine.

There were two operating back-to-back on Pier 18 in Jersey City, said Heiliczer, who built the coal-dumping model over one or two years. The dumping machine will be featured in the next issue of Railroad Model Craftsman magazine, Davis said.

Heiliczer said that while Garden State Central is the name the club uses, the railroads they have followed to make their display are a combination of the Lehigh Valley, Central Railroad of New Jersey, Erie, Reading and Lackawanna lines.

All of those railroads were bought in 1976 by Conrail, which sold them five years ago to Norfolk Southern and CSX, Heiliczer said.

For more information, call the club at (732) 775-0881.