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North Raleigh Model Railroad Club

General Information

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Table of Contents

General Information

  The Early Days

  The Nineties

     Six Forks Depot

     Wake Forest Depot


  The Current Decade

  Club Name & Logo


  Club Publications


  Digital Command Control

  T-TRAK Division

  Record Train

  The Eastern N Lines

  Train Shows

  Organizations Supported &
  Other Events


Click on title for desired topic.


This page provides information about the North Raleigh Model Railroad Club, its history, accomplishments, current activities, its name and logo, and other general information about the Club.


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The Early Days
In the early 1970's North Hills Mall (now The Shops at Lassiter) was something of a Mecca for Raleigh-area rail modelers. Jim Collier's hobby shop was located there, and the J.C. Penney store had a good-sized hobby department. It was also the site of a train show in November 1973 featuring three layouts, Lionel, S-gauge and HO scale, put on by a very loosely organized group of enthusiasts. Shortly afterward, in early 1974 the participants started meeting regularly in each other's homes. The North Raleigh Model Railroad Club (NRMRC) was born.

NRMRC membership originally was divided fairly evenly between HO- and N-scalers. The shift toward 1:160 railroading gathered momentum after Jim Kelly, a graduate student at the University of North Carolina (UNC) journalism school and an N-scaler, began attending NRMRC meetings. Jim was a persistent advocate of NTRAK. The Club's first discussion of the N-scale modular railroading concept occurred at a summer 1974 meeting.

Ultimately, Jim persuaded the group to try NTRAK. Six modules were framed up during a couple of evenings at the N.C. State woodworking shop — enough for a 24-foot dogbone layout incorporating two, 4-foot turnarounds. The NTRAK setup made its inaugural appearance at North Hills Mall in November 1974. Model Railroader ran its first NRMRC show advertisement in the October 1976 issue.

Jim Kelly went straight to Model Railroader magazine after obtaining his graduate degree from UNC, ultimately becoming the magazine's managing editor.

For the following several years the Club was more of a social organization, meeting once a month at different members' homes to discuss model railroading and railroading in general. The Club participated in one train show per year at North Hills Mall in Raleigh, where those with NTRAK modules assembled a layout and ran trains. Almost all members lived in North Raleigh.

Beginning in the early eighties, the Club began to build more NTRAK modules and to participate in additional train shows, mostly at Crabtree Valley Mall in Raleigh and Cary Village Mall (now Cary Towne Center) in Cary. New members came from further afield. The Club, however, was still mostly a social club, continuing to meet once a month at various members' homes.




The Nineties
Beginning about 1990, and continuing to the present, there has been much more emphasis on the construction of quality NTRAK modules, the upgrading of existing modules and participation in more train shows each year, some in other towns and cities. New members have come from towns and cities in all three counties that make up the Research Triangle Park area of North Carolina, and beyond. Associate members live in places like Winston-Salem, NC; Irmo, SC; Stroudsburg, PA; Danville, VA; Richmond, VA; Chesapeake, VA; Herndon, VA; Wilmington, OH, Oro Valley, AZ, Tallahassee, FL, and Myrtle Beach, SC. The Club also got space of its own, which we call a "Depot," with the specific name relating to its site. More information below.

The North Raleigh Model Railroad Club and its members now have NTRAK modules totaling more than 200 linear feet in length, the equivalent of a layout 20' x 80', and more are under construction. All new modules feature a fourth track installed as either the mountain division or as the alternate branch line, or both. Older modules are being upgraded.

The Club has been at the forefront of evolving methods of control of trains, such as radio-controlled throttles and Digital Command Control (DCC). At train shows AristoCraft radio-controlled throttles are the preferred control for analog tracks, while DCC is used to operate as many as four trains on one of the main lines, sometimes with trains running in opposing directions. The Club has clearly moved to DCC as the standard method of control.

Monthly Club meetings are still primarily held at member's homes. These meetings consist of a business meeting, followed by socializing and then a model railroad related program/clinic, which can cover virtually any item from building bridges to weathering rolling stock, to proper installation and adjustment of couplers, for example. If the host has a home layout, this is open to members for viewing and running trains.

Six Forks Depot
In 1993 and 1994, the Club had access to an empty store in a local Mall in North Raleigh. This was named "Six Forks Depot" since the mall was located on Six Forks Road. Here the Club set up modules on a semi-permanent basis; trains were run and modules were constructed, finished, modified and upgraded. The person hosting the monthly Club meeting had the option of holding the meeting at his home or at the Depot, and several were held at the Depot. Members had keys to the depot, and could make use of it at any time, although Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings saw the most use. One Member, who was retired and lived nearby, spent virtually every weekday afternoon in the Depot working on his modules and just plain running trains.

Wake Forest Depot
In mid-1996, the Club acquired access to one of several large rooms in the basement of an office building that had previously been used as a computer center. Since this building was located a block off Wake Forest Road, a major artery in north Raleigh just off the Beltline (Interstate 440), it was called "Wake Forest Depot." Modules were again set up on a semi-permanent basis where trains could be run, and modules constructed, finished, modified and upgraded. Some Club meetings were also held at Wake Forest Depot. Unfortunately, our space was rented out to someone who could afford the going rate (more than 10 times what the Club was paying), so the Club moved out in November 1997. For the last six months in Wake Forest Depot, the space was shared with the modular HO scale Great Appalachian Model Railroad (KMA Division).

For liability reasons relating to the Club's increased participation in Train Shows and especially the former co-sponsorship of the Southern Junction Model Train Show, the Club voted to incorporate in early 1999. The Club was officially incorporated as a non-profit corporation in the State of North Carolina on March 26, 1999, and has since received non-profit tax status from the IRS as a 501(c)(3) corporation.




The Years Since 2000
The Club continues its tradition of education, socializing and model railroading. The format of our monthly meetings has been changed so we spend less time on business and more time on education and model railroading. The Board of Directors now conducts much of the Club's business and provides a summary at the monthly meeting; votes are held on items requiring member approval.

Starting in 2003 the Club has formed close alliances with a number of other NTRAK clubs in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey— the Eastern N Lines Partnership™. Clubs in the Partnership work together to organize and put on regional train shows, especially larger train shows, and visit with each other at local train shows. See below for more information.




Club Name and Logo
The name North Raleigh Model Railroad Club was selected at an early date in the Club's history, and within a few years a Club logo was developed. This logo took the form of a steam locomotive plus the Club's name inside a border made up of track, as shown at the left, below. As the Club became more of an area club, some Members felt that the name should be changed to reflect its regional membership, and, while we were at it, change the logo.

The vote on the name took place at the Annual Meeting in January, 1996. Since the Club's By-Laws specify a simple majority vote on any item, it was decided to conduct a number of ballots on the proposed names until one achieved a majority, then have a run-off vote against the current name. So what was the result? By a single vote, Members decided to retain "North Raleigh Model Railroad Club."

The logo is a different story. Following several months of discussion, sample designs and revisions, in June 1996 the Club voted to adopt a new logo. It is the one you see throughout these pages, and at the right below.

Old Logo New Logo

Old Logo

Official Club Logo




The Club currently has about 35 Members, of which 15–20 are active and attend most meetings and shows, plus several Associate Members (defined as living more than 50 miles from Raleigh). The club has established several classes of membership to encourage membership, as follows:

Membership Class Details

Regular Member

Adult 18 years or older


Spouse of Regular Member

Family Youth

Child of Regular Member, 12–18 years


Child between 12 and 18 years, with Regular Member Sponsor


Full time student ages 18 to 25

Associate Member

Anyone who resides >50 miles from Raleigh

If you are interested in joining the North Raleigh Model Railroad Club, an application form and fee schedule are available elsewhere on this site. Go to the application form.




Club Publications
The Club publishes various Publications related to model railroading and of interest to model railroad clubs, including:

General Information Publications

Standards and Recommended Practices

Application Notess

Digital Command Control Topics

Details are in the "Publications" section on this web site. Go to the Publications Page.




Since its founding in the early 1970's the Club has achieved many goals. Some of these are listed below:

  • Developed a club logo that lasted for more than twenty years, then updated the logo to reflect the club as it has evolved over the years. Obtained illuminated logo signs to advertise the club at train shows.

  • Designed and starting wearing uniform Club shirts.

  • Constructed skirting for our layouts. Replaced the early material with fire-resistant material to meet applicable fire codes in train show venues.

  • Became a 501(c)(3) IRS-approved non-profit educational organization.

  • Migrated to total use of wireless train control, both analog with Aristocraft controllers and digital with Digitrax radio throttles.

  • With the Carolina Piedmont Division of the NMRA hosted the Southern Junction Model Train Show for several years at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds.

  • Continued emphasis on the social aspects of model railroading and being a club member.

  • Became a founding member of the Eastern N Lines Partnership™, an association of regional NTRAK clubs that work together to organize, set up and operate out-of-town train shows and large conventions.

  • Continued participation in major conventions and uNcoNveNtioNs, both with NTRAK layouts and T-TRAK layouts.

  • Proactive participation in the DCC revolution and in setting and updating NTRAK standards and recommended practices.

  • The leader in DCC applications and developing procedures for stable and reliable DCC operation.

  • Adopted T-TRAK standards and modules in addition to NTRAK standards and modules.




Digital Command Control
The North Raleigh Model Railroad Club adopted Digital Command Control using the Digitrax DCC System in 1995. It is today used for almost all train control on NRMRC show layouts; analog DC control is available for train operation on request. Specific DCC achievements include:

  • Detailed and extensive testing of DCC wiring and commons (grounding) to ensure system stability and reliability of DCC operations on NTRAK layouts of all sizes.

  • Published on this site detailed instructions for installing DCC decoders in a variety of locomotives.

  • Developed and published on this site guidelines for DCC Design for NTRAK Layouts.

  • Provided Digital Masters to major national and regional conventions and meets.

  • Developed operating rules for bi-directional operations on DCC-controlled tracks when formal dispatching is not in use.

  • Developed methods for card order prototype operations on club layouts with DCC control.




T-TRAK Division
T-TRAK is a modular railroad system in which the base modules are about the size of a piece of 8½ x 11” letter paper. This permits extremely compact modular layouts on a hotel-type banquet table and permits having layouts in much smaller environments that a normal NTRAK layout.

Starting in 2010 a number of members constructed T-TRAK modules and displayed them at two train shows. T-TRAK will provide more flexibility to the Club at train shows, especially when space is limited.




Record Train
From time-to-time the Club attempts to set a record for the longest train run on the Club's layout at a Train Show. For the record to count, the train must travel around the layout a minimum of 3 times without having to stop due to a derailment or a breakaway.

The current record was set at a train show at Crabtree Valley Mall in 1993 on a layout measuring 20' x 48'. The record setting train consisted of 223 cars, mostly hoppers, equipped with a mixture of Micro-Trains and Rapido couplers, pulled by 9 diesel locomotives, 6 at the front of the train and 3 about halfway back.




The Eastern N Lines Partnership™

Eastern N Lines LogoSeveral years ago the Club began participating in shows in locations distant from the Research Triangle Park in North Carolina. These generally entailed a significant effort beyond what would normally be required to operate a local show. Our club, along with other nearby clubs, began to cooperate to ensure the success of such shows. This arrangement was formalized in 2003 with the formation of the Eastern N Lines Partnership.

The Eastern N Lines Partnership clubs work together to organize, set up and and operate out-of-town train shows and large conventions. Current members are:

•  Central Carolina N Scalers (CCNS)
•  French Broad e'N'pire (FBE)
•  Grand Strand Model Railroad Club (GSMR)
•  Keystone NTRAK (KN)
•  Lynchburg Area N Scalers (LANS)
•  New Jersey Southern (NJS)
•  North Raleigh Model Railroad Club (NRMRC)
•  Peninsula Model Rail Road Club (PMRRC)
•  Richmond Area NTRAK (RANTrak)
•  South Hampton Roads NTRAK (SHR)

For more information click here to go to the Eastern N Lines Partnership™ web site.




Train Shows
From 1998 – 2000 the Club, jointly with the Carolina Piedmont Division 13 of the NMRA Mid-Eastern Region, co-sponsored the Southern Junction Model Train Show held the second weekend in September at Dorton Arena at the N.C. State Fairgrounds. This show featured the layouts of the sponsoring clubs, the HO Great Appalachian Railroad and the NRMRC's NTRAK modular layout (including many visiting modules), along with invited layouts from other organizations. Also featured were many dealers of model trains, railroad memorabilia and related products, and various Clinics presented to educate model railroaders and the public on the building of various aspects of model railroad layouts.

For a number of reasons the Club has decided to host smaller train shows, but more often than once a year.

The club also participates in several train shows each year that are organized and hosted by other organizations, especially the Eastern N Lines Partnership, as listed in the next section. Shows in which the NRMRC generally participates are:

Show Location Dates

Carolina Coastal Railroaders

New Bern, NC


Train Collectors Association

Raleigh, NC

4 times/year

Spencer Rail Day

Spencer, NC


Lynchburg Rail Day

Lynchburg, VA


Danville Old 97 Rail Days

Danville, VA


Selma Rail Day

Selma, NC


Autumn Rails

Flat Rock, NC


Grand Strand Model Railroad Club

Myrtle Beach, SC


Neuse River Valley

Raleigh, NC


For more details on these shows, check the Shows page.




Organizations Supported and Other Events

Displays at City/Town/Business Events:

Danville Old 97 Rail Days (Danville, VA)
NC Transportation Museum Rail Days (Spencer, NC)
Page-Walker Hotel (Cary, NC)
Selma Rail Day (Selma, NC)
Virginia Museum of Transportation (Roanoke, VA)

Displays at Malls and Shopping Centers:

Cary Village Mall (now Cary Towne Center)
Crabtree Valley Mall (Raleigh, NC)
North Hills Mall (Raleigh, NC)
South Hills Shopping Center (Cary, NC)

Membership Time:

UNC Public Television — Festival

Monetary Donations:

Hurricane Floyd Relief Fund
Hurricane Katrina Fund
September 11 Firefighters Fund
Virginia Museum of Transportation (Roanoke, VA)

Model Railroad Conventions

National NTRAK Show & Danville Old 97 Rail Days (Danville, VA) 2010
NMRA MER Convention "Rails to Raleigh" (Cary, NC) 2006
NMRA MER Convention "Piedmont Crossing" (Cary, NC) 2011
NMRA National Train Show (Atlanta, GA) 2013
N Scale National Convention — Capitol Limited (Chantilly, VA) 2004
N Scale National Convention — Derby City Express (Louisville, KY) 2008
N Scale National Convention (Roanoke, VA) 2014
NTRAK East Convention (Alexandria, VA) 1996
NTRAK East Convention (Orlando, FL) 1994, 1998
NTRAK East Convention — Capitol Limited 2 (Chantilly, VA) 2014
uNcoNveNtioN — No Bull (Richmond, VA) 1999
uNcoNveNtioN — No Bull 2 (Richmond, VA) 2002

Other Displays and Train Shows:

Carolina Coastal Railroaders Show (New Bern, NC)
Carolina Piedmont Division 13, NMRA MER Mini-Meet (Cary, NC)
Seymour Senior Center (Chapel Hill, NC)
Clare Bridge of Cary Memory Care Facility (Cary, NC)
Duke University Children's Hospital (Durham, NC)
Eno Valley Model Railroad Club Show (Durham, NC)
Grand Strand Model Railroad Club Show (Myrtle Beach, SC)
Great American Train Show (Norfolk & Richmond, VA; Raleigh, Greensboro &
    Winston-Salem, NC)
Great Train Expo Show (Raleigh, NC)
Litchford Falls Healthcare/Rehabilitation Center (Raleigh, NC)
Lynchburg Rail Day (Lynchburg, VA)
National Train Day (Durham, NC)
Neuse River Valley Club Train Show (Raleigh, NC)
Science Museum of Virginia (Danville & Richmond, VA)
Southern Junction Model Train Show (Raleigh, NC)
Springmoor Life Care Retirement Community (Raleigh, NC)
Windsor Point Retirement Center (Fuquay-Varina, NC)
World's Greatest Hobby on Tour (Chantilly, VA) 2010




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Copyright © 1997–2015 North Raleigh Model Railroad Club. All rights reserved.
The NRMRC is a Not-For-Profit Corporation incorporated in North Carolina.
The various logos and heralds shown here are the property of their respective organizations.

Last updated: Tuesday June 8, 2015


North Raleigh Model Railroad Club
Webmaster: John M Wallis (Email)