In a basement in Orleans, a working train yard comes to life—at a fraction of the size. The 3,000-square-foot basement—comprised of layouts of train tracks, buildings, and scenery—brings all of the intricacies of a life-sized operation to life, from the puffs of smoke to the whine of whistles. And the trains themselves are substantial, constructed from brass, steel, or plastic and sized to five different scales.
Once a week, the Nauset Model Rail Road Club (NMRRC) opens its doors to the public and invites newcomers to come and experience the niche world of model locomotives. It’s a hobby that combines reverence for the nation’s industrial past, renewed youthful enthusiasm, and remarkable creative investment. “It keeps my mind engaged,” says Andrew Petrou, a club member since 2001. “I’m not flopped on the couch, watching TV.”