PLAINS TWP. -- On Sunday, the Hudson Model Railroad Club celebrated its 30th year showcasing its 2,000-square-foot, handmade railroad display with more than 150 locomotives and 2,000 rail cars riding four miles of track.
We've become a local holiday tradition, said club president Jim Cerulli.
He said the30 members of the club range in age from 16 to more than 80 and all share a love for trains that can't be learned.
They have been meeting once a week to upgrade, maintain, expand and otherwise improve their display all as a passion for trains, he added.
These aren't just toys. They are exact scale replicas of the real thing. Everything you see in real life you will see here, he said. Members even will paint graffiti on their cars and exhaust stains on the engines to highlight realism, he said.
Along with the trains, the display includes a model steel mill, harbor and city complete with more than 200 buildings and 500 miniature cars serving the miniature population of more than 750 residents.
A computerized control system allows members to use handheld devices to control the engines, which each have their own computer chip in them, Cerulli said.
They're like sophisticated television remotes, he joked.
More than 200 visitors came by to see the display on Sunday. Every year the club is open from the first weekend after Thanksgiving to the first weekend after New Year's Day, he said.
Along the walls are photos of local trains along with graphics that define the various types of trains and what type of cargo they could be carrying, Cerulli said.
We want to teach as well as display. That's what it's all about, he said.
Most of the rolling stock is owned by the club members including several custom built pieces not available on the open market, he said.
The club owns the display and the circus train Cerulli calls a real crowd pleaser.
We built a full-length circus train like the types that used to run in the 1970s, he said.
Another line that gets a lot of attention from the children is the Caterpillar equipment train, which offers a line-up of various forms of heavy equipment being transported by rail, he said.
Bill Wightman, a club fan and regular visitor to the display for the last 20 years, said he can't help but notice the amazing progress and improvements in the layout. What he likes most though is the large variety in the display.
They have a little bit of everything, he said.
Cerulli said the club plans to continue into the future allowing train enthusiasts to view the display for free. However, he admits donations from the visitors are very much appreciated and needed to maintain the club's display.
It's a constant work in progress, he said.
Every year the club is open from the first weekend after Thanksgiving to the first weekend after New Year's Day.