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ABINGTON LINES

HISTORY

HISTORY OF THE

 

ABINGTON LINES MODEL RAILROAD CLUB INCORPORATED

 

 

The Abington Lines Model Railroad Club Incorporated began in 1964 as the Abington Model Railroad Club.  This group was essentially a student auxiliary of the GATSME (Greater Abington Township Society of Model Engineers) Club in Oreland, Pa.  At that time, the Club consisted of high school students, many of whom attended Abington High School, with a few adult supervisors from the GATSME club.  As time went on, the relationship between the Club and Abington High School gradually dissolved, and the organization-evolved into a group of young adult model railroaders.

 

Initially, the Club met at various members' houses on a rotating basis.  In 1968, the Club moved into its first fixed location in the basement of the Hatboro Bowling Alley on Jacksonville Road in Hatboro, Pa.  Here construction began on a large permanent layout.  This layout was about 23 by 30 feet in size with nearly 600 feet of mainline trackage.  At this point the Club was known as the Abington Model Railroad Club, which operated a model layout called the Abington Lines.  However, in 1969, because of financial difficulties and sagging membership attendance, the Club was reorganized and the Constitution was rewritten.  The Club was renamed the Abington Lines Model Railroad Club, and with a streamlined membership and a fresh start, the Club has prospered ever since.

 

The Club held its first public open house in November 1969, and held one annually through 1985, with the exception of 1975.  In 1974, the Club was notified that the bowling alley was being sold and that the new owner would need the basement area for storage.  The Club held its last show in Hatboro in November and December of 1974.  Following the show, the Hatboro layout was dismantled.  A new location was secured in Richboro, Pa., at 840 Second Street Pike, once again in the basement of a building.  Major improvements had to be made to the Richboro location before a layout could be constructed.  These improvements were completed by September .1976, and in only two months, through the hard work of all the members, all bench work and enough track work was completed to enable trains to operate for an open house.

 

Over the years, the layout in Richboro was expanded and refined.  While the overall dimensions of the layout were similar to the Hatboro display, the new pike was designed in the shape of an "E" so that visitors could walk into the layout and be surrounded on three sides by model trains.  The Richboro layout featured about 700 feet of hand-spiked mainline track divided into two parallel lines, as well as a trolley-system which actually received power from the overhead wires, and two narrow gauge logging and mining railroads.  The layout also incorporated a large yard capable of storing over 200 freight cars.

 

In 1985, the Club was unable to reach an agreement with the landlord for a renewal of the lease for the Richboro basement.  The Club held its last open house in Richboro in November and December 1984, and January 1985.  Over 3200 people visited the layout during these shows, with many turned away due to long lines.  After the last show in January, the Richboro layout was dismantled.  Since the Club had no immediate prospect for a new location, all Club materials were stored in a rented garage.  Throughout 1985, the Club investigated several possible locations including SEPTA stations, with none being found suitable or affordable.

 

In May 1986, the Club, after careful investigation, purchased the former "Chain Bridge Inn", in Richboro, Pa., with plans to convert it to the club headquarters.  Concurrent with the purchase of the Richboro property, the Club reorganized into a non-profit corporation.  Articles of' Incorporation were filed in Harrisburg in October 1985. 

 

For several years, the Club has worked hard to improve the property and bring it into conformance with Local and State building codes.  Throughout this period, the Club maintained its membership level even though the club's work had little to do with model trains.  Finally, in September 1989, the Club began work on its third layout, which is larger than the previous two efforts.  As with the previous layout, the members were able to complete all the benchwork and sufficient trackwork to hold an Open House in November and December 1989.  The improved club facilities make the layout more enjoyable for both members and visitors.