The Rensselaer Model Railroad Society prepared to celebrate their 50th anniversary back when Allen Keller visited in 1997. Twenty more years have passed since then and the club is still thriving. To this day, the club persists to operate from the Davidson Hall basement located on the campus of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. The Rensselaer Model Railroad Society continues to recruit new members and extends an invitation for tours to visitors on campus and outside of the area.
Celebrating 50 Years as the Rensselaer Model Railroad Society
In part seven of the 10-part New England Berkshire & Western series, Allen Keller sits down with John Nehrich to discuss the Rensselaer Model Railroad Society’s anniversary. The dynamic of the club is constantly changing due to the type of members involved. Many members are students who eventually graduate and in result leave the club. John Nehrich is the longest active member. He has been working full time for the club since 1989 as the club coordinator. He brought together members from the past and present to celebrate the clubs 50th anniversary.
Later on in the discussion, John mentions a recognition received by the Rensselaer Model Railroad Society. They were honored with a grant from New York’s Parks, Recreation and Historic preservation state agency. The club used that money to fund the New England Berkshire & Western project. The NEB&W model railroad layout is known as a tourist attraction in Troy, New York. The club receives weekly visitors from all around.
Visitors largely impact the New England Berkshire & Western layout. Some visitors have lived in areas modeled on the layout and can recall stories from the 1950’s when they inhabited the towns. John recounts one particular story of a man who claims to have lived in a home modeled on the layout. He says that back in 1959 the home was painted white. The model of the home was painted yellow, so they quickly made changes based on his lived experience.
The 10-part New England Berkshire & Western series isn’t over yet. Three segments remain. The last three segments give attention to research and education, operating scheme, and structures and design.