Largest “O” Scale Railroad Wows Visitors in Holly

Largest “O” Scale Railroad Wows Visitors in Holly

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Dec. 17, 2016)

Holly, MI – The boys from Cub Scout Pack 18 at Holly Family Catholic School in Grand Blanc needed to learn about a hobby to earn a merit badge, so they decided to check out The Detroit Model Railroad Club.   And they were absolutely amazed.

The DMRRC is housed in the old Holly Theatre, with the nostalgic marquee announcing the dates of the club’s open houses.  Members of the club come for weekly work days, but the open houses are special occasions where the public is welcome to check out the club’s hard work.

Inside is Michigan’s largest “O” scale community with trains running through tunnels in artificial mountains, curving through plastic pastures, and chugging through a quaint 1950s themed downtown complete with tail-finned classic cars, a soldier kissing his sweetie, and a theatre like the very one the club resides in.

Members use remote controls to guide their trains and radios to coordinate the paths.  In the observation room above “The Detroit Union Railroad,” a dispatcher monitors each train and line just as a dispatcher would for a life-sized rail system.

Brian O’Donnell, who sits on the board of the DMRRC, showed the kids around.

Upstairs they got to check out the dispatch area as well as see a model engine up close.  He also showed them the tracks, and how each piece is carefully hand-made, with roofing shingles to replicate the gravel and special pins that serve as railroad spikes.  There are over 6,000 feet of track on the main level of the club – which would be the equivalent of 57 miles in O Scale.

The basement is a work in progress, with club members building what will resemble an industrial area.  Trains currently can run from the main floor to the basement, with a line running alongside the stairway down.  One in the basement, the boys were able to see the wiring that makes the tracks above them work.

Since the boys – who were seven or eight years old – were learning about hobbies, he talked about how good it feels to work hard on something he could take pride in and share with others.  “My granddad was a brakeman on the C & O in Chesterfield, Ohio,” O’Donnell said.  “I like to have fun with the trains and show them to kids that come to visit.  And it helps keep history alive.”

Najla Mamou was among the Cub Scout parents.  “Boys like trains, anything that moves.  It’s good for them to see all the hard work that goes into it. Maybe they will want to do this.  It’s a good hobby,” she said.

For more information on the DMRRC visit their website


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