Division 12, Mid Central Region, NMRA, Inc., also known as the Alleghany Western Division, is a recently formed division of the National Model Railroad Association, located in Northwestern Pennsylvania and Southwestern New York.
For the most up-to-date information about our organization, membership meetings, or public events please use the News/Events page or search button at the bottom of this page.
Next Membership Meeting Event: In-person visit to JL Innovative in Salamanca, NY. Saturday, November 12th, 2022. Details to be provided via email.
Superintendent’s Letter for November 2022
(Note: I wrote this super’s letter a week or so ago, prior to the unfortunate coincidence of Mr. McClelland’s passing on October 28th. I guess this will also therefore serve as a tribute of sorts.)
The “Velveteen Railroad”
Most everyone is familiar with the story of “The Velveteen Rabbit”. This children’s story, originally published in 1922, is the tale of a toy stuffed rabbit who is so beloved by its child-owner that it becomes, through a bit of fairy-magic, “Real”.
Over the years, I have often thought about model railroads that have transcended the term “model”, and through the magic of artistic vision, craftsmanship, prototype fidelity, skilled photography, and notice of the hobby press, have similarly become “Real”.
“Gorre & Daphetid”, “Crooked Mountain Lines”, “Utah Belt”, “Allegheny Midland”, and “Cass County Railroad” are several names that might evoke thoughts of a “real”, rather than “model”, railroad in many modelers’ imaginations.
However, personally, the penultimate model, yet “real”, railroad is Allen McClelland’s Virginian & Ohio. Railroad Model Craftsman published the multi-part “V&O Story” beginning with the January 1977 issue, and the articles were later compiled into book format. The RMC series came out just as I was becoming aware, at age 16, that model railroading was an actual hobby enjoyed by other people, and the series distilled and concentrated Mr. McClelland’s skills in my mind, such that it became a life goal to build an operating model railroad incorporating the principles of the Virginian & Ohio.
Dawson Spring, Clintwood Junction, and Sandy Summit on the V&O all became as real in my mind as Horseshoe Curve, Northumberland yard, and the Elmira Branch on the PRR.
In fact, the V&O became “real enough” to spawn its own historical society on Facebook!
I never met Mr. McClelland in person, though I was once fortunate to run a V&O train on Gerry Albers’ Virginian Deepwater District layout in Cincinnati. I have several pieces of V&O rolling stock on my railroad, and they are as “real” as any lettered for the PRR, B&O, or Santa Fe.
Only time will tell if my own modelling efforts achieve even a fraction of what the V&O embodied, though some of my operators imagine stopping in at the general store in Wheelerville for a bite of pie while awaiting a meet, so maybe I have met with just the tiniest bit of success…
What other model railroads are executed so well that they are “real” in your mind?
Until next time, Happy National Model Railroading Month!
Superintendent, Division 12, MCR
Current Builder’s Plate newsletter available here.
Current Mid-Central Region Kingpin newsletter available here.
Know of any train shows in Western Pennsylvania, Western New York, or North East Ohio? Please send them to me at email@example.com