Brief History of the
Highland Park Society of Model Railroad Engineers, Inc.
The Highland Park Society of Model Railroad Engineers Inc. is a group of model railroaders who seek to increase their over-all pleasure of the hobby through informed association. The organization was founded in April 1948, under the auspices of Al's Hobby Shop in the Highland Park section of Los Angeles. The original group included modelers in several different scales. HO scale prevailed and a 20 x 35 foot layout was started in space provided by the hobby shop.
The Society prospered, and as time went by, improved its reputation in both the community and the model railroad fraternity. During the 1951 Christmas season the Society constructed and presented a complete model railroad layout to the Highland Park Optimist Boys Home.In 1959, with the financial aid of the three major railroads serving Los Angeles, the Society built, operated and staffed a major display at the Annual Home Show held in the Pan Pacific Auditorium. A principal tenant of the organization is to promote model railroading as a hobby, particularly to impress the youth of our community with a wholesome pastime. The club was called upon by the Los Angeles County Sheriff Juvenile Division to counsel with the Nellis Home for Boys (a medium security institution for juveniles) to help them in the construction of a model layout.
In the fall of 1959 the hobby shop went out of business and the Society was forced to vacate its home and a layout representing 10 years of love and labor. Meetings were held at members' homes, a city park building, restaurants, and anywhere the group could congregate. Finally, in October 1962, the Corporation purchased the property presently occupied by the Society. The next three years were to see the complete refurbishing and remodeling of a small one-bedroom frame house on the property and the construction of an additional 1,750 square feet of building designed from the ground up for a model railroad. All construction was done by the members themselves working from dawn to dusk on weekends. The members designed the building, went through zone variance hearings and finally rezoning hearing in order to have a permanent home. Never again would the Society be forced to vacate its quarters.
Along the way the Society built a complete operating layout inside a trailer which toured shows and meets throughout California. Members of the Society also built, under contract, a layout complete with locomotives and rolling stock for entertainer Frank Sinatra.
Through those lean and hard years since losing the first home, Society membership remained phenomenally stable and with no net loss of membership. This is due to the fact that the membership has become a very close group of friends and unite all of the family through social events such as Hobo Cookouts, Annual Awards Banquets, and other special events.
The Society is now busy constructing a railroad empire over which some 3,500 feet of track will stretch from a seaport to majestic mountains reaching from the floor of the room to some 10 feet into the air. The walls are disappearing under scenic murals. Trains will be operated in prototype fashion from "locomotive cabs" following timetables governed by "scale time" clocks. Dispatching of trains will be done by a prototypical Centralized Traffic Control Center. A separate lumber railroad, narrow gauge and traction interurban lines will be incorporated into the overall design. Special effect lighting will insure realism by adding daylight, dusk, nighttime and dawn.
All of this represents imagination, elaborate dreams, initiative, hard work, and above all a dedicated love of the hobby and its fellowship–this is the Highland Park Society of Model Railroad Engineers Inc.
We are open year-round on almost every Wednesday night from 7–10 PM. Memberships are always available to become part of this group of model railroaders where you can enjoy fellowship, model railroad craftsmanship, share and learn. We have one of the lowest monthly dues in the Los Angeles area and ours is a club that has been in existence's for more than 65 years.
Come and join the fun.