Potomac & James River Divisions’ Joint Meet

From Jerry Stanley, NMRA Potomac Division Board of Directors

The James River and Potomac Division would like to invite the SMD to our annual Minicon joint meet on 4 November 2023. This year there will be seven clinics and four open house layout tours, plus model judging and white elephant tables. Registration starts at 9 AM. Clinics begin at 9:30 and run until 12 PM. Layouts will be open from 1 to 4 PM.

The event is free. We will take a free will offering for the Battlefield Baptist Church (meet location) The church will be sending all funds raised to a hospital that is being constructed in Haiti.

The event program with clinic and layout descriptions can be found on the PD web page. https://potomac-nmra.org/PDnewsite/Minicon/Minicon.php

From the Desk of the Superintendent; Sept. 2023

Robert “Bob” Johnson, Superintendent (2022-24)

Welcome to the start of the 2023 / 2024 SMD program year. Per our long standing “normal” schedule we will be meeting once a month throughout the coming division year. The September through March meetings will be held on the second Sunday of each month from 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM. The April meeting will be our annual Mini-Con and will be held on the second Saturday (tentative) of April at the Blue Ridge Summit fire hall (across from Main Line Hobby Supply) and the May meeting will be held on eh third Sunday of the month to avoid a conflict with Mother’s Day. I am looking forward to another successful year of model railroading activities and hope that all of you will join in sharing your knowledge and talents with the rest of the division. -Bob Johnson

September Meeting:

Our host for the first meeting of the year (September 10, 2023) will be Don Florwick. His Pittsburg and South Pennsylvania Railroad depicts a portion of the South Pennsylvania Railroad (prototype) as if it had been finished and was operating as an independent line. The layout occupies 1100 sq. ft. of space and is operated by a NCE DCC system. The layout features a number of major industries and a significant amount of thru traffic is also present during operating sessions.
Clinic – TBD
Email the Division southmountaindiv@gmail.com for Don’s address.

Meeting Hosts Needed:

We are still in desperate need of hosts for the October through January meetings for this year. We have a couple of offers but they are individuals who hosted last year and in general we try to avoid repeating hosts back to back. We thought we had a host for October but last minute conflicts raided their nasty head so we are back to looking for an October host. If you would like to host, or even have a question about hosting, contact the division Superintendent at southmountaindiv@gmail.com at your earliest opportunity. As list of scheduled meeting hosts will be included ion the next issue of the Wheel Report.

Renew On Line:

You can renew your NMRA membership on line at the following link; https://www.nmra.org/store/membership
Remember that your national membership automatically includes membership in both the Mid-East Region and the South Mountain Division and you will receive the NMRA Bulletin electronically on a regular basis.
Membership is a requirement for insurance purposes but guests can attend one or two meetings without joining. There is also a trial membership category available at a reduced cost.

SMD Officers and Officials:

Superintendent: Bob Johnson

Clerk: Harvey Heyser

Paymaster: RayPrice

Webmaster/Digital Assets Manager: Tom Fedor

Wheel Report Editor: Alex Polimeni

Division Achievement Program Coordinator: Jane Clarke

Mainline Hobby Supply Layout Tours, September 2023

Mainline Hobby Supply

Open House / Layout Tours

16 & 17 September 2023

Mainline Hobby reports they have will several new layouts to view and lots of changes to the familiar layouts.

To participate you must show up at the store, 15066 Buchanan Trl E, Blue Ridge Summit, PA, 17214 (doors open at 9:00 AM Saturday, 12:00 PM on Sunday). Ask for a tour book. There is no charge for this event.

URGENT UPDATE re: East Broad Top RR trip

NEW DATE: Friday, 11 August 2023

I have been informed by Jane Clarke that the trains on 16-28 July will be pulled by the diesel instead of #16. Since one of the objectives for this excursion is going to see the, recently returned to service, steam locomotive it will be necessary for us to reschedule the SMD event.

Per Jane, the advance ticket sales for the 4 August are already almost sold out, so I have moved the SMD event to Friday, 11 August. In order to ensure that you can get a ticket to ride I am asking everyone to purchase their tickets online as soon as possible. When ordering get combo tickets for the 1 PM shop tour and 3 PM train. Use the link below.


In addition to the Robertsdale visit and pizza lunch, the SMD group will be doing all three Rockhill Furnace activities (EBT ride, EBT shop tour, & Rockhill trolley ride). Please purchase an “All Aboard” combo ticket package to stick with our group. Reminder, when ordering get combo tickets for the 1 PM shop tour and 3 PM train.

Combo Tickets

This package includes tickets aboard our one-hour, steam powered train excursion, our one-hour guided tour of the EBT’s remarkably intact belt-driven machine shop complex, and general admission tickets to the Rockhill Trolley Museum.

All other arrangements, schedules, etc. remain as originally announced so we will see you at Robertsdale on the morning of 11 August. The tickets for the Robertsdale museum area tour can be purchased on the day of the event.

I sincerely apologize for any inconvenience, but I am certain that at least 99% of us want to see #16 in action.

As before we ask that you notify me as to why and how many (including guests) are planning on attending so that we can make the lunch arrangement (which are still on the Division’s dime).

Bob Johnson, 2022-2024 Superintendent

Wheel Report – Summer, 2023 – SPECIAL EDITION

From the Desk of the Division Superintendent

Robert “Bob” Johnson, Superintendent (2022-24)

This special edition of the Wheel Report addresses a number of activities and events so please be sure to read the entire post.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the people who hosted meetings and / or presented clinics during the past year (2022 / 2023). This was our first full year of face to face meetings since the 2018 / 2019 program year (something called COVID-19 seems to have gotten in the way since then). Attendance at the past year’s meetings was quite good although not quite up to the level that is was prior to COVID. My aim, with your help, is to not only get back to previous attendance levels but to exceed them.

East Broad Top Railroad Tour

The date for the planned special tour of the East Broad Top Railroad has been set for Friday, July 28th (Now Friday, 11 August). I realize that this date may not work for some of you that have to work on Friday but it was selected to avoid the large weekend crowds and allow those of us attending to have a better experience. Our semi-official hosts for the day will be our own Jane Clarke and her helper Pete Clarke. Both of them are very active in the Friends of the East Broad Top and are quite knowledgeable as to the history and operation of the EBT.

NOTE: The estimated cost for the day will be – $46.00 per person for all of the various tickets you will need (pay as you go – not a single ticket).

The schedule for the day is as follows:

  • 10:00 AM – Meet at the Friends of the EBT museum in Robertsdale, PA – Tour Museum & adjacent mine area
  • 11:30 AM – Lunch (Pizza) Provided by the SMD
  • Noon – Depart for Orbisonia (Est. arrival 12:45)
  • 1:00 PM – Guided shop tour
  • 3:00 PM – Ride Train (Engine 16)
  • 4:00 PM – Trolley ride

You are welcome to bring guests with you. We do ask that you email southmountaindiv@gmail.com if you are planning on participating and let us know how many people will be in your group.

2023/24 Division Meeting Schedule

The regular monthly meetings of the SMD will start in September of 2023 and run through May of 2024. Meetings are held on the 2nd Sunday of the month September through March starting at 2:00 PM. In lieu of the April meeting we will again be hosting an annual SMD Mini-Convention at the Blue Ridge Summit fire hall (across the street from Main Line Hobby Supply). The May meeting, as usual, is moved to the 3rd Sunday to avoid a conflict with Mother’s Day.

For those of you who are not currently participating in the regular division meetings, a meeting normally starts with a social period to allow everyone to enjoy the host’s layout (if they have one) or to examine other aspects of the host’s modeling efforts. This is followed by a short business meeting and then we frequently have a modeling clinic put on by one of our members or a guest presenter.

The SMD does not collect any dues or supplemental fees. The meeting host typically provides refreshments and we do accept voluntary donations at the meetings to help defray the costs of these refreshments.

Membership in both the South Mountain Division (SMD) and the Mid-East Region (MER) of the NMRA is automatic if you live in the areas highlighted on the map below.

Call for Meeting Hosts and Clinicians

We make an effort each year to schedule most of our meetings at locations that are either new to the division, or locations that we have not visited for several years. Each meeting will give you the opportunity to see how your fellow modelers have approached the hobby and to learn new techniques.

If you would like to host a meeting during the 2023/24 program year and/or present a clinic, or have a suggestion for a future clinic, please email southmountaindiv@gmail.com as soon as possible.

2023/24 Division Communication Strategy

Current plans call for the Wheel Report to be issued on a monthly basis starting with the September issue which will come out in mid to late August. Each issue will deal primarily with the upcoming meeting and any current issues of interest to the membership of the division. Other content will include, but not necessarily be limited to:

  • Notices of upcoming events such as train shows. The membership is encouraged to send notices to southmountaindiv@gmail.com for inclusion.
  • Critical Division business that will be taken up during the next meeting for action by the group.
  • Short articles written by members of the SMD and/or photos of interest. These may include articles about your modeling efforts, fan trips, etc. We will also be printing content addressing NMRA content such as the Achievement Program, SMD/MER web content of special interest, etc. Again, the membership is encouraged to provide content.

Please email suggestions for ways we can improve SMD communications to southmountaindiv@gmail.com.

Along those lines we are going to try to cover, at least, the business portion of upcoming meetings (and clinics when practical) with a ZOOM link.

NMRA & MER Links

Don’t forget that both the NMRA Magazine and the Mid-Eastern Region (MER) newsletter, The Local, are now being distributed electronically. If you are not receiving these publications and other digital content, check to make sure your email address is current.

Change your mailing or email address: https://www.nmra.org/request-membership-info-changes

Join or renew with the South Mountain Division: https://www.nmra.org/store/membership

Read The Local: https://mer-nmra.com/elocals.html

Read The NMRA Magazine: https://www.nmra.org/nmra-digital-magazine

Read recent eBulletins: https://www.nmra.org/members/bulletins

Surf web content from the Turntable: https://www.nmra.org/members/turntable

Chat on the Interchange: https://www.nmra.org/nmra-interchange

Attend the Region Convention: https://www.mer2023.org/index.html

Attend the National Convention: https://2023texasexpress.com/

Growing the Division

After several years of declining attendance participation in South Mountain Division activities seemed to stabilize a couple of years prior to COVID and then started to slowly grow. Post COVID active participation has been steady but slightly down from 2019. NMRA membership in the SMD area has been more or less constant at around 100 members. As previously noted, if you are a member of the NMRA, you are also a member of the SMD, so we are encouraging you to become active in your Division. You will meet other modelers, get fresh ideas to help your with modeling, and hopefully just have fun.

For those of you who are active… If you know of a fellow modeler who is a member of the NMRA, but does not participate in our Division activities, encourage them to do so.

Modelers who are not members of the NMRA are welcome to attend one or two meeting of the SMD as a guest but for insurance purposes they will be required to join the NMRA after that. I encourage all of you to reach out to non-NMRA modelers and encourage them to join us.

We have a supply of a very nice color brochures that you can use as a recruiting tool. These were printed just prior to COVID with the primary intent of placing them in area hobby shops to reach out to modelers. Due to recent NMRA changes (primarily concerning the NMRA Bulletin going to an electronic publication) some of the info on membership is out of date, but should not cause any issues.

Starting this fall we will start placing these brochures in area hobby shops again so if you have any suggestions as to where to placed them let me know.

I hope to see you soon; either at the EBT in July or at our first meeting in September (location to be determined).

Bob Johnson, Division Superintendent