Each scale has it’s own devotees who contribute trains, equipment, and know-how to the various layouts at the club. “Some people prefer running the trains, others are good at landscaping,” says Petrou. “Some like collecting certain boxcars, some like weathering the buildings, stringing lights, decorating.”
The decorations run the gamut from downright whimsy—some layouts include giant sharks, even dinosaurs—to down-to-the-last-detail representations. One decoration depicts the intricacies of a coalmine with small, plastic men shoveling coal onto a conveyor belt, which travels up on a shaft from underground into a coal yard, where the tiny train cars pull in and pick it up.
Community involvement is a critical component of the NMRRC. Each year at Christmas time they give away three complete train sets to Orleans-based Lower Cape Outreach Council, which distributes the gifts to underprivileged Cape Cod youth, who are train lovers as well. During the weekly open houses, especially during the Christmas season, as many as 200 people cruise through to check out the trains, speak to members, or share stories with each other. “We just enjoy sharing the hobby,” says Jones, who has been playing with model trains since he was five years old. “It’s fun just running the trains and operating the layout.”