Join the Club

ST. CLOUD -  For the Minnesota Central Model Railway Club, it's all about the little things.

The club has a large track over 20-feet long in Waite Park, but prides itself with its attention to design and smaller details.  Every part of the track tells a different story with unique and beautiful scenery. John Hlavac has been involved in the club for around 10 years and says many skills go into making the intricate track.

"You learn how to make scenery, how to wire for the trains to run properly, you get to hear the locomotives as they should have been heard years ago, because our locomotives sound like the same thing," Hlavac says.

The club was founded in 1987 and has meetings in Waite Park and Albany (Which has an even larger display with over 1,000 feet of mainline track). Engineering, handiwork and art are a few of the skills members specialize in with the club.

The track in Waite Park is a module design-divided into sections created by different members with their own designs and inspiration. Each module tells a story and adds a unique piece to the track. Everything from a baseball field, to forests and lakes, to entire towns with their own cemeteries and gas stations are featured in the track.

Each section can take members months or years to complete or perfect. Members try to make the scenery as detailed and accurate as possible. Hlavac and fellow club member Tim Goodner spent months adding a gold mine to a corner of the track. Goodner even used 3D printers to create detailed mine carts for the design.

"We've made this mine look like a gold mine from the mid-1800's, if you don't put the detail in it-people can't capture that,"  Hlavac says.

Each section of the project is different, making the entire track a blend of scenery and different personalities and perspectives.

"Each six foot module is a completely different scene, different period time, different piece of somebody's heart," Hlavac says.

The Minnesota Central Model Railway Club says they are always looking for more members. Those interested can attend their meetings every other Wednesday in St. Cloud or Albany. The club will also be hosting an open-house event on May 2nd at 240 2nd Ave South, Waite Park.

For more, check out their website.


John Hlavac showing off the gold mine module on the train set. (Dan DeBaun, WJON News)
John Hlavac showing off the gold mine module on the train set. (Dan DeBaun, WJON News)

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