The Baltimore Society
of Model Engineers
November 1, 2009
Sunday, November 1st, the Baltimore Society of Model Engineers (BSME)
graciously opened the doors of their model railroad club to both the
Potomac and Chesapeake Divisions. The club is the oldest in the U.S.,
having organized in 1932, and has displayed its layouts in the
Baltimore area since 1938. In 1952 it moved to its current location at
225 N Saratoga Street in the heart of downtown Baltimore.
club actually has two layouts, so the visitor gets to see two layouts
during a visit! On one side of the room is an approximately
13’ x 65’ HO scale layout that is called the fictional“ Chesapeake and
Western Railroad”, which connects Baltimore with the midwest. Here you
can see double headed Pennsy L1’s pulling a coal drag along with a
diesel-hauled passenger train pulling into Baltimore’s Pennsylvania
is also an interurban trolley system under construction.
layout still has some brass track (which is all that was available back
in the 1950s) in remarkably good shape. However, other sections now
have nickel silver track and turnouts. The electrical system is still
DC, although the club is starting to convert the HO side to
operate from elevated control panels so they can see the entire layout.
the other side of the room is an equally large (13’ x 65”) O-scale
layout. The railroad modeled is also a fictional one, the “Allegheny
Northern”, and it runs through the rural mid-Atlantic Piedmont region,
east of the Alleghenies. The time is 1952, but in their write-up ,the
club confesses that more modern diesels and freight cars might also be
with its smaller sister layout, the Allegheny Northern also has an
interurban trolley system, complete with overhead catenary.
All of the O scale track was hand-laid, and the visitor can’t miss the
roundhouse and turntable located not quite in the middle of the layout.
for the younger guests, you can even see Thomas the tank engine pulling
some hoppers loaded with coal.
club holds an open house every Sunday in January, and every second
Sunday of the month during the rest of the year, with the exception of
May. To learn more about this club, check out their web site at
Brian W. Sheron