The Rockledge Model Railroad Museum will be open additional hours during the holiday season. The museum will be open between the hours of noon and 3 p.m. on Dec. 14 and 15, 2019; January 11 and 18, 2020; and February 8 and 9, 2020. Beginning in March, the museum will return to its original schedule of being open on the second Saturday of each month, also between the hours of noon and 3 p.m.
The Rockledge Model Railroad Museum lives in a former lace factory at 323 Montgomery Ave. in Rockledge.
The museum’s primary attraction is a 3,000 square foot HO scale model railroad display depicting railroad activity in southeastern Pennsylvania in the 1950s, with operations based on the Pennsylvania and Reading railroads. The exhibit represents a portion of the railroad from West Philadelphia to Reading continuing on to Shamokin. It is inspired by the neighborhoods, towns and industries along the way. It features the trains of the Schuykill Valley Branch, which runs primarily through Montgomery County.
A portion of the layout will feature the Reading Railroad’s Newtown branch, which ran through Rockledge and serviced both passengers and manufacturers in the borough.
Building a display layout of this size takes time, and, while the layout is far from finished, the main line has been completed from West Philly to Reading. Visitors can expect to see an assortment of trains; both passenger and freight trains of many eras will be operating.
The bulk of the renovation work, and all of the layout construction, has been done by members of Gatsme model railroad club.
The goal of the Rockledge Model Railroad Museum is to educate the public about the hobby and history of model railroading. Club members will also use the layout to demonstrate multiple aspects of railroading including merchandise freight, coal, commuter and long haul passenger traffic.
After renovating the building, members of Gatsme have been busy building benchwork, laying track, and wiring track and control panels. Scenery construction has begun as well.
Founded in the basement of an Abington township pizza restaurant in 1951, Gatsme has long been known for its museum-quality modeling. After losing its long-term quarters in Fort Washington, the club acquired the former lace factory in Rockledge and began building its new home. After two years of building renovation the club began layout construction. While the railroad display is far from complete, the museum is able to receive visitors.
The museum is kid friendly and suitable for families. There is no entrance fee, but a donation of $5 per person or $12 for families is suggested.
Gatsme Model Railroad club has memberships open; interested individuals should stop by the museum building on Thursday evenings. The club holds business meetings on the first Thursday each month and visitors are welcome. Previous model railroading experience is not a requirement for membership.
More information can be found at the museum’s website, http://rockledgemrm.com as well as its Facebook page, www.facebook.com/rockledgemrmuseum. Gatsme Model Railroad club can be reached through Facebook, www.facebook.com/GATSME