Western North Carolina, in Northern Virginia

I could have sworn I had posted about this, but apparently not. About a month ago I learned of a model railroad club based out of the old railroad depot in Vienna, Virginia. Sited along the path that once was the Washington and Old Dominion Railroad, the depot is in use today as the home of the Northern Virginia Model Railroad club.

The club has existed since the late 40s. It has occupied the Vienna depot for the last 35 years or so. The club models the Western North Carolina Railroad, which was a real line in North Carolina between Spencer and Asheville. In fact, while the club models the mid 50s, the prototype is still in service today, as part of the Norfolk Southern network.

The layout itself is quite large, with hundreds, if not thousands of feet of track. All the track that is visible is hand-laid, with rails spiked on hand-made ties. The only places where flex-track was used is in tunnels and particularly the helices where it is harder to get to. It operates on Digitrax DCC, and signals are being installed. They largely operate as Automatic Block signals, but I understand full CTC is on the way.

It’s quite impressive to see, and if you’re in the area when they are holding their regular open-house events (next one is May 25th and 26th for the Viva Vienna festival, other dates can be found at nvmr.org) it’s worthy of a few minutes at least to watch things happening and listen to the talks about how and why things are.

As it relates to me more personally, last night I was read in as a probationary member. Despite attending meetings for the last few weeks, I just missed the meeting in April so I had to wait until the May business meeting. It’s fun so far, and I’m enjoying meeting the various members (including, I believe, one of the NS train crew in the area who I hear about often from other railfans) and learning the rules and regulations of the layout. I also participated in my first scenery auction event, where old pieces of no-longer-required scenery are put up for a silent auction. I picked up a small schack for 50c, and an Atlas 9″ turntable ($20-30 value) and motor drive (another 20-30) for $10 together! I was excited!

I still need to acquire and install my first set of DCC decoders. Money is tight this month, but I’m confident it can be done before too long! Even just one!

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