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Train Hobby Events in the Region

This page lists model train events that CAMRC is aware of in AR, MO, LA, & TX. To view the page, click here: Current_events

CAMRC Train Open House Events

The McGee Center in west Conway (3800 College Avenue) will be the site for two CAMRC Train Open House (TOH) events during the calendar year:

  • Saturday in mid-June (the day before Father's Day)
  • Saturday in early December (theme-related to the Christmas season).

The Christmas holiday-related TOH event is traditionally the biggest event of the year. To enable set-up of the train layouts, provide time for an operating/tweaking session by club members and friends, and fully accommodate visitors, the timetable for the upcoming TOH event in December is shown here:

  • Thursday, 12-04-14, 9 to 5; club members - transport & set-up of the layouts
  • Friday, 12-05-14, 9 to 5; club members - operating session for "tweaking" the layouts
  • Saturday, 12-06-14, 9 to 3; Train Open House open to the public.

Monthly Club Meetings

Since May 2014, members have gathered on the FIRST TUESDAY of each month at 5:30 p.m. for a self-pay meal and socializing at The Fish House restaurant in Conway at 116 S. Harkrider Street. The business meeting follows at 6 o'clock. Our established pattern is to have an informative but brief hobby presentation by a club member followed by discussion and action on club business according to a published agenda.

Photo & Video Gallery - Check It Out

Club members and visitors to CAMRC-sponsored events are shown in photos at our companion website. Images of Train Open House events and other activities are available for viewing and can be downloaded. Videos of real railroad activites are posted too. Visit that website with a click here:

Summaries of Previous Club Meetings

To view summaries of previous club meetings, click here on MINUTES. The most recent meeting is listed first for convenience; previous meetings are listed in reverse chronological order.

Club Membership Dues

Annual club dues of $40 include the hobbyist, spouse, and children in the immediate family. Dues are payable in November/December for the upcomng calendar year. The dues payment can be made during a club meeting or by mail at the club's address cited below. Make your check payable to "CAMRC" with "Club Dues" written on the memo line.

A FRIENDLY INVITATION TO POTENTIAL CLUB MEMBERS - Families with an interest in model railroading in all its forms can consider a one-year TRIAL MEMBERSHIP in CAMRC for only $24. This introductory rate allows a helpful "test drive experience" to learn about the club and its activities. Two suggestions to newbies:

1) Click on the MEMBERSHIP tab at the top of this web page for information about joining the club

2) Attend a club meeting and meet club members; then decide whether to exercise this option.

New members who join the club during the year pay a pro-rated amount based on $40 but calculated on a quarterly basis as:

  Jan-Feb-Mar              100%  ($40)
  Apr-May-Jun               75%  ($30)
  Jul-Aug-Sept              50%  ($20)
  Oct-Nov-Dec               25%  ($10).

Membership dues can be paid by check with "CAMRC" on the payee line and "Club Dues" on the memo line. Mail it to:

    Central AR Model RR Club
    P.O. Box 1825
    Conway, AR 72033-1825

Attractions at CAMRC Train Open House Events

HO-scale Modular Layout
Club members with an interest in HO-scale modular railroading have created a 12x20-feet modular layout for operation during TOH events. Each four-feet-long straight module presents its own theme and tells its own story.

  • Don Hansen and Mike Mottler created a dramatic HO-scale straight module with a mountain range above the platform and a waterfall and canyon below the platform. It was the first multi-level module for the club's HO layout.
  • Bill Smith designed and built a straight module with a faux tunnel, a farmstead with a pond, and a house under construction.
  • Doug Wilson created modules with scenic details of a downtown area, an airstrip, and water effects.
  • Mike designed and built a module with a US Army base with a mountain background.

Modular railroading is a manifestation of the train hobby in group setting, which is especially useful to families with no room for a full-size layout at home. By creating a four-feet-long module, a family can transport it to the TOH site, set it up along with other modules, and have a lot of fun in a day. The club wants this modular layout to grow, so it encourages existing members and new members to propose new modules, build them, and expand its footprint. Experienced club members assist "newbies" in building and decorating a module as a fun-to-do, family-friendly activity. The train hobby engages the imagination and builds pride in achievement in youngsters who can rightfully say, "I made this!"

HO-scale Layout with Four Tracks - THOMAS
Club members Don Hansen and Mike Mottler created a four-track, fold-away, door-top-based layout for HO-scale THOMAS trains. Thomas, Percy, James, Emily, and Gordon locomotives are ready for duty on command. This layout was designed for hands-on operation by kids with four separate control stations - one for each track. Youngsters who successfully run the trains during Train Open House events earn a JUNIOR ENGINEER certificate from CAMRC for display in their room or train room.

HO-scale 4x8-feet Platform with THOMAS Trains and Tidmouth Sheds
Melvin Hightower developed this layout for enjoyment of kids who love THOMAS trains. The perimeter tracks are connected to entry paths to a turntable at Tidmouth Sheds, which is the "home" of Thomas and his friends.

O-gauge Modular Layout
During the holiday seasons of 2006, 2007, and 2008, CAMRC members designed and built a large (18x24 feet), O-gauge modular layout for display and operation during Festival of Light events in west Conway. When the Festival ended, this layout was stored for several years. In late 2012 it was brought out of storage, redesigned, and refurbished for future showings at TOH events in Conway. This modular layout can be set up in various configurations.

The first showing of this "new and improved" layout was on Saturday, June 15, 2013, the day before Father's Day. Dads and grandads were invited to bring their vintage Lionel (or compatible) trains to this event and run them. This layout is now equipped with a transfomer-based (Conventional Mode) control system AND Lionel's wireless control technology (TMCC Mode). Visitors are encouraged to take command of the trains and operate the action accessories.

Other Train Layouts in Action at TOH Events
Club members display temporary layouts set up for enjoyment by visitors, and several offer "hands-on" fun for kids: small wooden "kid powered" trains on a tabletop layout, N-scale layout by Tom Dettmann, Marx O-27 layout by Jack Adams, Lionel O-gauge layout by Craig & Wendy Gerard, and a G-gauge layout.

CAMRC Involvement in the Community

* Supporting the Annual "All Aboard! Lionels at Laman" Holiday Event in December

During the Christmas holiday seasons from 2009 through 2013, CAMRC members joined Arkansas members of the Lionel Collectors Club of America (LCCA) and other hobbyists in the area for the "All Aboard: Lionels at Laman" event at Laman Library in North Little Rock, AR. A 14x24-feet operating O-gauge train layout with six modular platforms delighted youngsters and families when in action daily during library hours. In December 2012 and 2013 alone, this exhibit attracted a combined total of more than 10,000 visitors. After a five-year run, the event ended at the end of December, 2103. The layout, trains, action accessories, and lighted buildings reverted to the volunteer hobbyists who staffed the activity and enabled the display by loaning items from their collections to the "All Aboard" events.

* Refurbishing the Two-foot-gauge "Park Train" at CHDC in Conway

A 1950s vintage “park train” will continue to travel the familiar tracks on the front acreage of the Conway Human Development Center (CHDC) in Conway thanks to a proposal offered to the Center by members of the Central Arkansas Model Railroad Club (CAMRC). The Superintendent of the Center accepted CAMRC's proposal to “adopt” and refurbish this train, which was made in the 1950s by National Amusement Devices (NAD), a manafucturer of roller coasters and amusement park trains. The train at CHDC in Conway is one of only a few surviving NAD units. To date, CAMRC has discoverd about six other NAD trains around the county by Web searches.

As of November 2008, club members have rewired the engine compartment of the locomotive, refurbished the MARS light in the lower nacelle in the nose of the diesel-style loco, rebuilt its carb, repaired a faulty truck, and performed a motor tune-up. In the spring of 2009, CAMRC replaced the fuel pump. The gas-fueled, four-cylinder Ford industrial motor mounted under the hood of the locomotive is now operational for test runs.

With the arrival of pleasant spring weather, on April 7, 2009, members resumed work on the CHDC train. The motor is now running very well, and the train made a test lap around the track. However, there were some minor derailments of the trucks of one of the cars because of out-of-gauge track at certain points along the right of way. Those areas will be repaired and re-gauged in subsequent work sessions. The train will soon be ready for use for the enjoyment of the residents of the Center. For more information about this project, click on CHDC.

* Delivering Fun for Families in the Spirit of the Season

Beginning in 2006 and continuing through 2007 and 2008, the club presented a modular O-gauge operating layout at the Conway Festival of Light event on the grounds of the Soccer Park in west Conway. Beginning on Friday evening after Thanksgiving Day and continuing nightly through the holiday season, this annual event was open to the public. Holiday light displays installed on the grounds as drive-by exhibits were a major attraction to visitors, and music performances were presented at the site. CAMRC volunteers operated the layout every evening from 6 to 9 p.m. in the club house, and Santa's area was nearby in the same room.

UPDATE: After the FOL series ended in December 2008, the club placed this modular layout in storage. In late 2012, the modules were refurbished, re-wired, and four new corner units were added so that this layout could be presented at Train Open House events in Conway during 2013 and thereafter.

* Collaborating with the Faulkner County Museum

Several CAMRC members were part of an informal group of local hobbyists that designed, installed, and embellished a fully scenicked, HO-scale model railroad exhibit based on the geography of the Conway region. Now an independent entity, the members of the museum-based group operate this impressive layout during scheduled hours at the museum in downtown Conway.

* Sharing the Hobby with Families

Members installed and operated a modular HO-scale display at "That Bookstore at Montebanq Place" in downtown Conway during the 1990s.

Description of the Club

CAMRC members are train hobbyists dedicated to the advancement of the world's greatest hobby of model railroading through designing, constructing, and operating train layouts for "hands-on" fun for kids during public sites and events, building local community awareness of the railroad history of this area, and sponsoring educational activities about railroading. Members enjoy traveling by train as rail fans, learning about railroads in this region, and sharing the fascinating history of railroads.

Club members are engaged with many railroads and are involved in several different scales of model railroading – including HO, O, N, and G. CAMRC welcomes new members, and “newbies” (newcomers to the hobby) are welcome at monthly club meetings and club-sponsored activities. Meeting time is invested in sharing club news, planning future events, orienting newbies to the hobby, and arranging train layout learning/working sessions on selected nights and weekends. There is always plenty of work to do and lots to learn in the world’s greatest hobby, so join the fun!

Families are welcome participants, and parents are expected to accompany their children to activities, become “coaches” to them, and learn about the hobby together. CAMRC is a club of active “doers” – not passive watchers – and there is hands-on work to do for adults and kids. Actually, we believe the work is “play.”

Activities of CAMRC

The Central Arkansas Model Railroad Club was formed in the early 1990s. The club fosters public awareness of railroad history, railroad safety, and model railroading in its many forms. Community projects sponsored by the club in the past include:

  • Presented an HO layout for public enjoyment at Montebanq Place in downtown Conway
  • Assisted with design and installation of the HO-scale layout at the Faulkner County Museum in Conway
  • Operated an O-gauge modular layout during the Conway Festival of Light during the three Decembers of 2006, 2007, and 2008
  • Served as volunteer operating engineers during the Christmas holiday event “All Aboard: Lionels at Laman Library” in North Little Rock, AR, for five seasons beginning in December 2009 and ending in December 2013.
  • As a multi-year project, refurbished the 24-inch gauge “park train” on the grounds of the Conway Human Development Center in Conway as an accessible recreational resource for the residents
  • Sponsored Train Open House events open to the public at McGee Center in Conway, a twice-a-year activity that continues to the present time.

Been There, Done That - Past Club Activities & Train Excursion Trips

  • Visit to a private railroad at Dover, AR
  • Annual presentations of the CAMRC HO-scale train layout in action at the Train Show held in Jacksonville, AR
  • Annual visits to the Train Show held at Pine Bluff, AR
  • Annual visits to the Train Show held at Springdale, AR
  • Operation Life Saver train ride
  • Visit to Garvin Gardens outdoor G-scale train layout at Hot Springs, AR
  • Visit to a home outdoor G-scale train layout of a hobbyist at Perryville, AR