By Brianna Gleghorn
Viewers crowded the walkways between model layouts at the Youngstown Model Railroad Association, open house on Nov. 4.
The association began with eight members in 1957 who shared a common interest of model railroading. After the economic decline of 1964, the club was forced to have meetings in the member’s homes until they obtained an old gymnasium.
With hard economic times hitting again, the club was searching for a new space and was led to their current location in the former Four Mile Run Christian Church.
Jim Pope, president of the YMRA, pointed out layouts that replicated a different Youngstown.
“These layouts replicate the old steel mill, an amusement park, old downtown and more,” Pope said. “Looking at these layouts are like going back in time.”
The building has two floors of layouts. The ground floor includes a scenic track that members work from a box. The basement houses a bigger layout that includes an amusement park, replica of the steel mill, replica of the Renner Brewing Co. factory, and more.
Chuck and Ashley Lines attended the open house for the first time with their two sons.
“I was very impressed with the moving details such as the carnival rides,” Ashley Lines said. “There was even smoke from a fake house fire that miniature people were putting out.”
The association currently has about 40 members, but memberships are open to anyone.
The YMRA has been holding open houses since Dec. 2 and 3, 1961, to share with the public their interest of model railroading. Each year the club uses the off season to expand their layout.
Ron Lagana, open house attendee, said he has been to several model train open houses and brought his sons to share the fun.
“I like the bigger trains like the O-Gauges,” Langana said. “The best part is seeing the smiles on [his sons’] faces.”
In the lower level of the building, the club provided drinks and food such as popcorn and hotdogs.
For the convenience of the younger attendees the outside of the tracks have benches for children to stand on. The members turn off the main lights every so often to give a nighttime effect. During this time, lights on the track will turn on including the figurine light posts.
The YMRA is having open houses on Nov. 10 and 11, and Dec. 1 and 2. The open houses are located at the former Four Mile Run Christian Church and more information and events can be found at www.ymra.org.