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Boise Holiday Tradition: Training Days

Tree lightings and winter wonderlands are no match for Boise's best-kept (and tiniest) holiday secret

Article by Staff Writer

Photography by Provided

Originally published in Boise Lifestyle

Nestled in the historic Pioneer Building's basement in downtown Boise lies a hidden treasure, the Old Boise Model Railroad. This remarkable club has been a hub for model railroading enthusiasts since 2001, showcasing an intricate and expansive display that depicts scenes from across the Western United States. A visit to this unique club, open year-round on Tuesday evenings and during their traditional Holiday Shows, is a journey through time and space, immersing visitors in the fascinating world of model railroading.

Capturing the Western U.S. in Miniature

The Old Boise Model Railroad is a labor of love and a testament to the dedication of its members. Their remarkable layout covers more than 1,800 square feet and features an astonishing 50 scale miles of track with 210 switches. This meticulously constructed model railroad portrays a diverse range of landscapes, from bustling industries to small towns, ports, plants, lumber mills, and mines, all inspired by the Western United States.

As you explore this miniature world, you'll encounter a variety of rail equipment, including box cars, flat cars, hoppers, auto racks (rail cars for carrying automobiles), passenger cars, and modern container trains. The attention to detail is extraordinary, with the landscapes authentically reflecting the terrain and industries found in the region.

Expanding and Evolving

In 2015, the Old Boise Model Railroad Club relocated from the Mezzanine level to the basement of the Pioneer Building, allowing for an expansion of the layout and membership. The club's dedication to authenticity is apparent in its continuous improvement of the display. They've added new scenery, industries, and trains, including an entirely new 'canyon' section featuring high bridges and an under-mountain tunnel.

One of the distinctive features of the club's layout is its representation of different eras of railroading. Visitors can witness a mix of steam and transition-era equipment, right up to the most modern of diesel and container trains. This dynamic portrayal of changing times adds depth and historical context to the experience.

Exploring the Layout

When you first enter the Old Boise Model Railroad Club, you find yourself at the end of Pioneer Yard, the largest yard on the layout. This is where most trains depart and return, as cars are sorted and placed in trains headed for specific industries or destinations. For visitors, the most engaging way to get to know the layout is to find a moving train and follow it around the track. It's a hands-on approach that allows you to appreciate the intricacies and marvel at the craftsmanship of the model railroad.

Year-Round Access and Traditional Holiday Shows

The Old Boise Model Railroad Club warmly welcomes visitors year-round on Tuesday evenings from 6 PM to 9 PM. This offers an opportunity to experience the club's passion for model railroading and the Western U.S. landscape it replicates.

However, a highlight of the club's calendar is their traditional Holiday Shows, which occur every Saturday between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, from 10 AM to 4 PM. These shows provide a unique opportunity to enjoy the magic of the Old Boise Model Railroad during the holiday season, making it a cherished tradition for many families and individuals in Boise.

For those seeking an escape from the modern world and a chance to journey through time and space, the Old Boise Model Railroad Club is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. It's a place where the artistry and dedication of its members come to life in an enchanting miniature world that pays homage to the Western United States' rich railroad history. So, whether you're a seasoned model railroading enthusiast or just looking for a unique and fascinating experience, make sure to include a visit to the Old Boise Model Railroad in your plans. It's a delightful adventure through the Western U.S. that you won't want to miss. OldBoiseMRC.org

The Old Boise Model Railroad's remarkable layout covers more than 1,800 square feet and features an astonishing 50 scale miles of track with 210 switches.

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