Skip to main content

Greenville & Hockessin Life

The railroad they have made

Jun 29, 2023 11:14AM ● By Tricia Hoadley
Photos by Jim Coarse
Text by Richard L. Gaw

The entirety of the Northern Delaware Model Railroad Club’s studio space – about 450 square feet -- is wedged into the side of a building in the Stone Mill Office Park on Yorklyn Road, and shares the real estate of the complex with other tenants like chiropractors and doctors and accountants.

From its inconspicuous entrance, it is difficult to imagine what lay ahead for the first-time visitor, but once inside its catacombs, the scale model complexity of a new world opens up, and suddenly and without warning, a visitor is swept up in the memory of childhood, to a time when a model railroad represented the endlessness of one’s young imagination.

Begun in 1994 by a group of model railroad enthusiasts, the Northern Delaware Model Railroad Club has grown both in members and in the invented universe they have created and continue to expand. Housed in two adjacent rooms and generously dotted with small towns, glorious scenery and hundreds of HO-scale trains gliding around tracks, the model of the Northern Delaware Railroad Company is a masterpiece of ingenuity that brings local commerce and history along for the ride.

Starting at the Port of Wilmington and designed as a coal carrier, the 35-foot by 13-foot railroad connects the Wilmington passenger terminal, then heads to Newark, Rising Sun, Md. and beyond to an industrial quarry at Conowingo, Md. With multiple locomotives pulling hundreds of cars, the line then climbs a long grade to East Hagerstown, Md., then through the steep mountains over the Potomac Bridge to Winchester, Va., before reaching the end of the line at the Strasburg Yard in Strasburg, Va.

The distance of the Northern Delaware Railroad may only measure 400 feet, but through the continuing creativity of the model railroad club that bears its name, the end of this railroad may never be built.

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to Greenville & Hockessin Life's free newsletter to catch every headline