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History of the CMRyC

The Club History - The Cincinnati Model Railway Club (CMRYC) was started in 1932 by a group of model railroaders in the Cincinnati, Ohio area. It was formally organized in 1934, with the late M. D. (Mel) Thornburgh as president. Mel was an employee of the B&O RR and author of many pioneering scratch building articles in the model railroad press. One of his scratch built locomotives, the Thatcher Perkins, and accompanying passenger cars are in the NMRA’s Howell Day Museum. The first layout was at 309 Sycamore Street in downtown Cincinnati. In 1938, the club moved to the Cincinnati Union Terminal where it remained until 1948, when the layout was dismantled on New Year’s Eve. From 1952 until the mid-1970s the Club’s layout was in the Norwood (Ohio) City Hall. After leaving the Norwood City Hall, the Club met in round robin fashion at member’s homes. The Club built two portable layouts that were displayed at area shows, one an oval pike and the other a switching layout.

The Club was committed to finding a new home for a “permanent” layout and studied many options before finding Harmony Lodge in 2001. Harmony Lodge is a former Masonic Lodge in Spring Grove Village (formerly Winton Place), and is owned by a corporation comprised of members of Cincinnati’s two male barbershop choruses – the Southern Gateway Chorus and the Delta Kings Chorus. The two choruses have rehearsal space on the second floor of the Lodge, there is a large multi-use auditorium with a stage on the first floor, and CMRYC is on the lower level – a former banquet facility. There are also three commercial businesses located in the building.

The Club entered into a long-term lease for the lower level of the Lodge. The space consists of the layout room roughly 35 feet by 85 feet, a meeting and work room that were once the kitchen, a room for the extensive Club library, and storage areas.

The Layout – In July, 2001 we started the process of moving into our new space and building a 2-rail O scale layout in the new spaces. The first step was to remove years of accumulated and abandoned furniture and fixtures, clean the room, measure the spaces for layout planning, and consolidate in one place all the layout pieces and materials we had accumulated over the years.

Our largest storage space had been a 40 foot truck trailer crammed full of “stuff” and stored at a friendly supporter’s truck lot. We unloaded the trailer in to the new space and began the long process of sorting the usable material from everything else.

We appointed a layout design standards and planning committee that solicited conceptual ideas and track plans from members, held discussion groups, and developed a list of desired elements as well as guidelines for the layout based on member input. The planning group tried to accommodate as many ideas as possible for the Cincinnati & West Virginia Railroad. One example is that some members wanted a point-to-point layout that was operations oriented while others want a continuous run so they could relax and run trains. We found a way to do both.

We double decked the ends of the point-to-point railroad and stacked the staging yards. There was a stage at one end of the room that we were not using. After careful measurements, we determined that we could build a double tracked helix to connect the two ends of the railroad. During operation the helix is used as a double ended staging yard, it provides a quick route from one of the railroad to the other, and it can be used as a continuous run route. The helix is an elegant solution that met everyone’s desires.

Two areas of member interest also sparked additional design elements and made use of extra space not occupied by the main layout. The mainline has 72” radius curves, leaving a large open space at any area the track turns back on itself, like at the end of a peninsula. An interest in logging and eastern mountain coal mining where money and space were very tight in the valleys of the Appalachians lead us to build the Harmony Creek & Southern branch line. It features very sharp curves (down to 36” radius), light track, steep grades, and poor maintenance that are characteristic of some of these small railroads. The employee timetables of the period instruct that only geared and rod steam locomotives and four axle first generation diesels can operate on the HC&S.

There was also interest in narrow gauge logging, so a space was designated for an On30 logging railroad that connects to the C&WV near East Epworth. There is no dual gauge track, but both narrow and standard gauge cars pick up finished lumber at the mill.

The layout foundation is L-girder construction, with subroadbed of either splined laminated Homosote or ¾” birch plywood on risers. Track and turnouts are an eclectic mixture of scratch and commercial products, code 100 through 148 rail, mostly scratchbuilt and a few commercial turnouts, nickel silver and steel rail, Old Pullman tie strip and scratch ties, and other products that met our needs.

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