The Northern Virginia Model Railroaders (NVMR)
Western North Carolina Railroad

April 14th 2018

A Visit to the Northern Virginia Model Railroaders, Inc.
By Nicholas Kalis

On Saturday April 14 2018, our Potomac Division was granted exclusive access to the HO scale Western North Carolina Railroad located at 231 Dominion Road NE Vienna, Virginia 22180 from 11 AM to 1 PM. The club remained open until 5 PM that date as part of its monthly openings for the general public. The club has been located in the historic Vienna Railroad Station for some forty years. Their golden spike ceremony was on February 11, 1978. The W&OD bicycle trail passes right outside their entrance. The club President, Sandy Robeck, was there to warmly greet us and give tours. The club has about 100 members of whom about 60 are active.

Potomac Division members enjoyed a tour underneath their layout and to some scenicked areas the public does not see. What was visible underneath their layout may be as impressive as the scenery above.

Many of our members have been to this layout before but there is always something new to learn. First, the waiting room had been converted to a neat new museum. I learned for the first time that this layout had been designed by famed model railroader Captain Pliny Holt (1910 - 2010). Indeed, their layout was built in Pliny’s garage and then moved to the station with no problems other than one section being six inches too long. Not one to rest on his laurels, noted N-scale modeler Pliny Holt  even built the switch machines for this layout.

Located in the 20 by 50 foot W&OD baggage room, this layout is controlled by digital command control (DCC)

In real life, the Western North Carolina Railroad operated as a regional railroad running 138 miles from Salisbury to Asheville in North Carolina. Trolley fans will be delighted to see the Blue Ridge Traction Power & Light Company in operation.

This layout was featured on the cover of the February 2016 Model Railroader.

This club, over 65 years old, has faced some obstacles. In March 2010, snow storms visited structural damage on the old railroad station they call home. NOVA Parks owns the building (but the club has a three-way lease with NOVA Parks, The Town of Vienna, and the club itself). Luckily, NOVA Parks had budgeted some funds for the station and they were used to right the structural problems on a timely basis. The club moved back in in September 2010 and was operating again in May 2011. Their club was fortunate that a local church allowed them to meet in their facilities. The months away from the station were used to tune up rolling stock and invite speakers to address club members.

Dues are five dollars per month after a one-time twenty-dollar application fee. Tuesday evenings from 7:00 PM onwards are meeting nights. NMRA members are invited to view their layout; talk model railroading; and receive a tour of their layout on those nights. For more information about the club visit or or 703 938-5157