OCEANSIDE — After six months of being without a home, the North County Model Railroad Society found a perfect stop at Heritage Park.
The model railroad society celebrated its move on April 19.
Previously it had a space on the second floor of Boney’s Market, now Earthgrown Market.
The new location keeps the long-standing model railroad society in Oceanside.
“It’s convenient for members, and now we’re part of Parks and Recreation (site),” Harold Helland, North County Model Railroad Society president, said.
The model railroad society occupies two side-by-side rooms at the historical park. One room is set up with an interactive, kid-friendly model railroad. The other will soon display the massive double track model railroad layout.
The kids’ train, as it’s called, was busy with pint-size engineers manning the controls during the museum’s grand opening.
A digital command control system allows visitors to try their hand at running the trains.
The layout is designed for beginners’ success, with four trains running on separate tracks.
The planned double-track model railroad will have its main track set up in time for Christmas. Preparations involve woodworking, engineering, electrical work and lighting.
Helland said now is a good time for visitors to stop by and see the steps involved in setting up a train layout.
The finished layout will replicate the California Southern train that ran through Oceanside, Carlsbad and Temecula in the 1800s, until heavy rains washed out the tracks in the 1890s.
The model train will mirror the layout, but will be set in the 1950s.
The 1950s was a transition era for trains when both steam and early diesel engines were running. The model railroad society keeps everything true to the period, although Helland said occasionally a modern diesel engine, from a club member’s collection, might make its way onto the tracks.
Completing the full double-track layout will take months. The room that houses the model railroad is about 600 square feet and Helland said the layout would fill up every inch of the room, twice.
A double-track layout signifies there are two levels of complete tracks, sandwiched on top of each other, that are up and running.
The layout will accommodate 10 trains running at the same time.
All trains are operated by club members, and follow a scripted scenario of freight pickup and drop off, just like an operating railroad.
Finishing the landscaping on the model railroad layout will take years. Every detail, right down to each bush and tree, needs to be painted and put in place.
“We make the model as close to real life as we can,” Helland said.
The North County Model Railroad Society has secured a 10-year lease on the city space, and pays a minimum monthly rent. The model railroad society is funded through club member dues and visitor donations.
The North County Model Railroad Society is located at 220 Peyri Road, and is open to visitors on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.