Our society started in 1987 as an informal group of model railroaders who gathered in Bob Lewis’ shop, Heritage Trains & Hobbies, on High Street in Morgantown, WV. We designed and built a small layout in a back room of Bob’s store, as well as portable layout we could set up at local festivals.
We soon outgrew the space and moved in 1992 to the basement of a commercial building on Pleasant Street, sharing space with a couple other tenants and expanding our space when one of the tenants left. We built a permanent, multilevel layout with several hundred feet of mainline track, staging yards, a large switching yard, and a half-dozen towns with railroad-served industries and businesses. Members scratchbuilt many structures representing actual buildings in West Virginia.
Outreach has been an important activity from the beginning. The small layout that could be moved in a pickup demonstrated the value in public display for educating the public and attracting new members. We built a set of modules and displayed them during the Forest Festival in Elkins, the annual Labor Day weekend in Rowlesburg, Mountaineer Week at West Virginia University, and other places in our region.
Almost from the beginning we had a board of directors and governing documents. Meanwhile we had moved beyond an informal club in our activities. Many of our members gave presentations to schools, retirement communities, and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at WVU. In 2013 we obtained 501(c)(3) designation with the IRS, committing to a mission of preserving railroad history in the Mon Valley with detailed modeling, educational displays, and public outreach.
In 2021 we left the basement and moved to our present day location at Mountaineer Mall. Sadly, we had to tear down the our former permanent layout, but happily this has lead to the creation of a new HO Scale layout as well as adding N Scale and O Gauge layouts.
Today, we are still dedicated to preserving the rich railroading history of the Mon Valley region. Our new location boasts a collection of artifacts, models, and memorabilia from various eras and railroads that have played a significant role in shaping the Mon Valley region’s history. Our exhibits and displays allow visitors to experience the rich heritage of railroading in this area.
Our most well known crowd-favorite is our three model railroads on display. When completed these model railroads will provide an immersive experience for visitors, allowing them to witness the evolution of railroading firsthand. From the early days of steam locomotives to the modern-day diesel-electric engines, our model railroads provide a glimpse into the history of railroading that helped shaped the Mon Valley and beyond.
In addition to our exhibits and displays, we host a range of events and activities throughout the year. These include workshops, lectures, and open houses that cater to both the seasoned railroading enthusiast and the curious newcomer.
At the Mon Valley Railroad Historical Society, we take great pride in our role as stewards of railroading history in the Mon Valley. Our mission is to educate and inspire future generations about the vital role that railroads played in the development of this region.
We invite you to visit our society and witness the fascinating history of railroading in the Mon Valley region through our exhibits, displays, and model railroads. Whether you are a seasoned collector or a newcomer to the world of railroading, we have something for everyone.
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