Sheboygan Railroad Museum to host Open House weekend

The Railroad Museum features six different scales in various stages of completion. -Submitted photo The Railroad Museum features six different scales in various stages of completion. -Submitted photo The Sheboygan Railroad Museum will host an Open House on Saturday and Sunday, January 30th and 31st from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm each day. Admission to the Open House is free, but donations are welcome. The Museum is located at 1001 N 10th St, in Sheboygan.

The Sheboygan Society of Scale Model Railroad Engineers, Ltd, founded in 1977, owns the building. The Society has had as its primary purpose the preservation of railroad history, both prototype and models. To that end, it has amassed a large collection of railroad antiques, some dating back more than 100 years. New donations of crossing signals have recently been added, recently taken out of service in the area. A library containing thousands of books, periodicals, and videos have been categorized. They are available for research purposes.

In addition to the large railroad artifacts on display, there are operating model railroads in six different scales in varying stages of completion, from the tiny Z scale to G scale. One of them, for example, replicates what a typical Lionel layout would have looked like in the mid 1950s, using vintage buildings and rolling stock acquired. The largest of them, occupying two levels, is an HO scale layout, operated completely by computer, using software especially developed for it. Both levels are functional with the lower level filled with scenery as work continues on the upper level.

Another layout is being custom built to reflect certain areas of Sheboygan, with some distinct local landmarks being featured, while at the same time showing industries that were served by rail in the area.

“Each of the layouts have to be done in stages, as access to certain things depends on something else being completed first,” said Dick Pool, a Board member and layout committee lead. For the most part, the bulk of the layouts were custom designed to fit the space, as opposed to a simple tabletop. Each has a particular theme in mind, and will show just how railroads serve in various areas of the country. “Having each in a different scale, we hope to attract a larger spectrum of the public,” said Pool. “The variety shown ensures there is something for everyone,” he added.

One of the major considerations was aisle space for visitors. The original layout, while breathtaking to see, created a cramped feeling for large crowds who came to Open Houses. “Our goal was to have a more open feeling with the new displays,” said Pool. The new floor plan also allows for a better traffic flow, eliminating bottlenecks that existed in the old plan.

All of the building expenses, including the construction of displays, are self-funded primarily by members. The Society depends on donations and fundraisers to fill the gap created between needs and available funds. For example, a new roof has been determined as a need in the next year or two, to replace one installed 20 years ago.

There is an interactive area for small children to enjoy themselves along with a Brat Fry to satisfy those with an appetite, regardless of weather.

The members of the museum look forward to sharing the experience. Questions can be directed to Museum Board Member, Dick Pool, at 920-254-2135.

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