RICHLAND - Patcong Valley Model Railroad Club got its annual open house rolling Dec. 2, much to the delight of train enthusiasts.
The club, which has existed in various locations throughout Atlantic County since 1962, has put on an annual open house for more than three decades in order to allow train fans the opportunity to enjoy some model trains up close.
However, since opening its current location in the mid-2000s, the club has seen its fan base continue to grow as loyal patrons and curious new visitors come to support the club’s mission.
“We came out because of the Santa train,” said Jennifer Etherington, who along with her husband Gary, had never been to the Patcong Valley Model Railroad Club before. They came to Richland to get more information about the Cape May Seashore Lines Santa Express but they decided to stop by Patcong Valley as well.
After walking around the stunningly life-like display of trains, towns, bridges and mining yards, the couple was hooked.
“Will we be back? Yes!” said Etherington.
For James Grouse, 2, trains are a new obsession.
“We just took him to Lancaster and he is in love,” said Jen Bates, James’s mother. James’s fascination with trains was clear as he would ecstatically point to the model trains and gleefully say “choo-choo” and “trains.” While Bates enjoyed seeing the model trains, her real joy laid in James’s reaction.
“I like seeing the excitement on his face,” smiled Bates.
While Patcong Valley saw some newcomers on Dec. 2, there also were longtime members and visitors who came by as well.
Frank Sedio said he has only been a member at the current location for a short time, his association with the club goes back to its days on Fire Road in Egg Harbor Township, a location the club was at for well over 20 years.
Sedio has always had an interest in trains. In fact, for many years his job led him up and down the East Coast building scale models. “Everybody really likes trains,” smiled Sedio.
“We come every year, I have been coming since they were on Fire Road,” said Linda Salmons. Salmons and her husband Bill said they are longtime fans of trains. She said she keeps coming back to Patcong Valley because “I like to see the progress and any changes they may have made.”
Patcong Valley Model Railroad Club’s open house continues on the following dates:
• December 16-17, 2017
• January 6-7, 13-14, 20-21, 2018
Patcong Valley will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and admission is free, though donations are appreciated.
For more information on Patcong Valley Model Railroad Club, please go online and visit its website at www.patcongvalley.com or take a look at its Facebook page.
The club is located at 1315 Harding Highway (Route 40), Richland.