Monday, 7 January 2019

The NEB&W - The end?

One of the most recognizable locations on the NEB&W. The layout began in 1972.
 Bill Gill passed along the following words written by John Nehrich. It appears the NEB&W is about to become a memory in history, the same as some of the rail lines it portrays. Don Janes and I visited the NEB&W back in November as part of the Albany Expo layout tour. I am glad we did as that will be our last memory of the current layout. It has been at least 25 years since my other visits when the layout was in it's prime. This visit revealed a tired looking version of the NEB&W with many areas water damaged and very dusty...although it still looks great and it actually photographed very well. Don and I did find areas of the layout that have just been completed or updated that looked great. I think a facelift in a new location would be a big plus to NEB&W and the membership...all the best to a great layout and their membership. Here we have a few photos from my trip a couple of months ago along with John Nehrich's comments...George Dutka

The wall in the crew lounge area.
The NEB&W have just gotten word that shortly, perhaps a few weeks, a professional mover is going to come in and crate up sections of the layout, along with everything else, and move them out of Davison.  These will either be stored in a warehouse or if we are lucky, moved to a new permanent home.  The school wants to rehab Davison over the summer with all new plumbing, etc., but wants the layout now.  At first when they were talking about this, they were figuring they would totally box in the layout to protect it from swinging pipes around, but they would have to remove the backdrop and build us a whole new one.  On reconsideration, they figured it would be better to move us instead.

So where?  Barb Nelson, who used to work at RPI in space allocation, is now the Executive Director of TAP Inc. (Troy Architectural Program) and wants very much for us to move to some place where the layout can readily be seen by the public.  She is very sympathetic to our needs and attuned to the entire downtown building boom.  She thinks there may be some appropriate space downtown opening up.  Many developers are having a hard time filling their first floor with retailers, and she sees the layout as generating a lot of foot traffic.  We don’t have anything definite yet.  If it does, our role might change, whether we stay a part of RPI, be a collaboration with say the county historical society, become totally independent, or who knows what.  We know one important consideration no matter what would be to ensure this is a permanent home.

Or we have been talking about a new building, a simple (and thus cheap) steel shell building on a concrete pad floor somewhere on RPI property.

For years and years, we have looked at moving to an existing location in an unused space, but we take up far more room than people think.  And if we were to move into J Building or Winslow, even if we fit – we don’t – it would cost so much to remove walls, etc.  But now we are talking about a prime location, not a spare attic or unused basement.

Please spread the word to EVERYONE you can think of.  Massive amounts of publicity are needed, and soon, both word-of-mouth and professional media.  In this way, we may reach some wealthy benefactor, or even just convince the school the importance of not letting us wither away in storage.  We will be looking into some type of go-fund-me campaign, hopefully in conjunction say with a local historical group.  (We probably can’t do it under RPI without stepping on some toes).

The contract to move us has yet to be signed, but they are aiming for a few weeks.  Then we will know the timetable but it likely to be soon after.  Once we have a definite date, we are hopeful of holding one last operating session.  If you know of individuals who need to see the layout, I can set up an individual tour - it may be now or never.   

  - John Nehrich

One of the areas that has been recently refreshed.
Don stands next to Rutland yard and under the pipes which are still in pretty good shape. We noticed a lot of locations were leaks seem to be the norm.
State Line still looks great although the trees are holding a few decades of dust. While the NEB&W train departs the tunnel from one state into another, the layout itself maybe departing from its start into a new beginning.


  1. George,

    Like you I had the pleasure of visiting the NEB&W some 25 years ago. I had wanted to return a number of times since but this was not possible once they decided to no longer host their open houses. While disappointed, I understand the reasoning presented by John and others on their website and clearly it was their choice to make. However, their decision may now come back to haunt them in their efforts to fund their move and reincarnation. I suspect some people may be reluctant to donate to their cause unless there is an upfront commitment to be open to the public in their new home, wherever it may be. There are a number of very successful, proto and proto-freelanced large clubs that are open to the public, the La Mesa Model Railroad Club in San Diego, which I have visited many times probably being the best example.

    1. Hi Ian:
      That could be the case with funding...I hope it all works out for the club...George