1994 - 2003
A Room With A View
As it turned out, we were fortunate to have a member who did business with a tenant in a building located next to a railroad line. He saw the sign on the roof advertising 33,000 square feet available and couldn't resist asking if we could rent a small piece of that space. When the owner heard what we wanted to do, he told us that he had something better than factory space that he could let us have. The second floor office wing was vacant. It had a tile floor, a ten foot ceiling, fluorescent lighting, and windows looking out onto the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad, not to mention, a very affordable price.
A New Layout Takes Shape
From August 1994 to January 1995, we demolished interior partitions, painted walls, patched tiles, got our electrical system in order, and again contracted with Don Cardiff to design a new track plan which was based on a 92 foot by 18 foot room. Benchwork construction began in February 1995, and was completed by mid-July. Upon installation of the micor roadbed, trackwork began in mid-October 1995. By Christmas 1995, we held our first Open House. We managed to build the benchwork and install track for one of the mainlines and part of the second. In 1996, by the time of our second Christmas Open House, we completed both mainlines and laid the trackwork in our intermodal yard. In 1997, when the N-Scale Collectors Association held their convention in Chicago, we held a special Open House for their members. By that time we had completed block selector wiring and were running as many as nine trains simultaneously for our visitors. By our third Christmas Open House in December 1997, we had some scenery to show in several areas and part of the sixteen tracks in the freight yard under way.
More recently, 95% of the track work was complete and about two-thirds of the layout has scenery. Major features include Horseshoe Curve, Tehachapi Loop, Keddie Wye, a sixteen track classification yard, a six track intermodal yard, an oil refinery, and a steel mill.
It was a sad date in mid-July 2003 when we where asked to vacate the second floor due to an unforeseen problem in remodeling the building and the new windows the landlord wanted to put in. Over a 4-week period members stripped the layout of the scenery and started to cut up the layout into 6-foot sections so that it could be moved out as we intended to find a new location to rebuild it. Our first problem was to find a suitable storage space & the second was moving it. Luckily, one of the members suggested the top (third) floor of the bank where he worked as a possible location, which had never been built out since the building was erected some 26 years ago. He approached his employer and was grant permission to store the pieces there. The move was completed over several evening we members using their cars, vans & even a flat bed trailer. The location is some two miles west of Broadview next to the old IC Des Moines Track (now CN) so we are still able to watch the occasional train go by. With the windows removed at Broadview we were able to get a lot of the larger pieces through them with the aid of s forklift from the landlord. At the new location, most pieces fit in the elevator, but several of the larger pieces we had hope to save did not and a further cut was necessary in the parking lot of the bank parking lot.