Business Meeting; 19 May

The May meeting will be hosted by Jay Beckham who lives near Berkeley Springs, WV, on Sunday, 19 May starting at 2:00 PM. Please remember that this meeting is taking place on the third Sunday of the month, as opposed to the normal second Sunday, due to the Mother’s Day holiday.

Déjà vu. When Jay first started a layout in his current location he was modeling the Chicago, South Shore, and South Bend Railroad in the 1960’s but later changed to the PRR theme.When you arrive at Jay’s location you will see that he is again modeling the South Shore. <>

Jay writes, “My new layout concept is to model in O scale the Chicago, South Shore, and South Bend Railroad in the 60s, the time I first saw it in person. I have always had an interest in traction, and interurbans in particular. It was the railroad I modeled when we first moved into this house. I am trying to use as much of the old layout as possible as far as track design but a mid-western railroad is certainly different from the PRR that I was modeling. We have redesigned the CTC to suit the South Shore. Trying to use as many of my many buildings, most of which were scratch built. Also have corrected most of the track to a 60” minimum radius and from #5 to #6 or larger turnouts.”

He says that he hopes to have trains running, by the time of the meeting, partly through some of the old scenery and maybe some of the new.

Following the business meeting Jay will present an overview of the prototype Chicago, South Shore, and South Bend Railroad. This line has an interesting history and parts of it are still in regular use today as a commuter line.

Email and we will provide the street address. -Ed

Election of Officers

We will be “electing” the division officers at the May meeting.

The candidates are as follows:

  • Superintendent (president) – Bob Johnson
  • Clerk (secretary) – Alex Polimeni
  • Paymaster (treasurer) – Ray Price

These are the only elected positions in the Division. There are numerous other unofficial positions (see listing at end of Wheel Report).

Please note that I have already announced that I will not serve again for the 2025 / 2026 program year, and Alex has stepped up to serve as Clerk, simply because no one else has volunteered. If we cannot get some new candidates for officers for the 2025 / 2026 we will be forced to declare the Division inactive.

From the Desk of the Superintendant

From Superintendent Bob Johnson…

Mini-Con 2024

A big thank you to everyone who participated in the annual SMD Mini-Con at Blue Ridge Summit in April. In my opinion the event ran very smoothly. A special shoutout to Grant Berry for again taking the lead on this ever-popular event. 

Mini-Con 2024.
Bob Johnson looks at a locomotive at his brass loco tuneup table.
John Pursell, D.M.A. talking about improving structures.
Dave Thalman talks about basic scenery forms.
Frank Benenati talks about making wire tree armatures for dioramas and detail scenes.
Maryland T-Trak.
Ken Mazer talks about fast tracks turnouts.

This year’s attendance was just about the same as last year. We still have not returned to the kind of numbers that we were seeing before the great COVID lock-down but those that attended seemed to be having a good time. Assuming we hold the event again next year I have some ideas for increasing the pre-event publicity that may help attendance.

Election of Officers

We will be “electing” the division officers at the May meeting.

The candidates are as follows:

  • Superintendent (president) – Bob Johnson
  • Clerk (secretary) – Alex Polimeni
  • Paymaster (treasurer) – Ray Price

These are the only elected positions in the Division. There are numerous other unofficial positions (see listing at end of the Wheel Report).

Please note that I have already announced that I will not serve again for the 2025 / 2026 program year, and Alex has stepped up to serve as Clerk, simply because no one else has volunteered. If we cannot get some new candidates for officers for the 2025 / 2026 we will be forced to declare the division inactive.

Summer Activity Planning

At a previous meeting we discussed the possibility of setting up a group trip on the Western Maryland Scenic out of Cumberland. The big draw there is of course C&O engine 1309. Unfortunately, I have been informed that the 1309 is currently out of service due to a cylinder issue. We will discuss this more at the upcoming meeting.

FYI, EBT number 16 is also out of service due to a cracked driver hub. It is not a good time for steam in our area.

Mid-Eastern Region Convention Planning

We have been officially asked to host the 2027 MER convention. Assuming we are still an active division I can see no reason not to do so. Under the current convention protocols the MER handles a significant portion of the work involved. I would like to form a small (3 to 4 people) exploratory committee to investigate available facilities, possible prototype tour activities, etc. If you would like to participate in this endeavor please contact me as soon as possible.

For details about the 2024 convention visit, <>.

Wheel Report Feature Articles

As previously noted, Alex Polimeni is now working with Division members (and others) to develop feature articles, layout photo tours, written clinics, etc. to supplement the basic Wheel Report content. Please consider reaching out to him and providing content.

Remember, this is your Division and we are depending on you to support us and provide us with content for the Wheel Report. We will not be issuing a regular edition of the Wheel Report until August, so you have plenty of time to work something up.

All submissions will be published on

Email submissions to – Ed.

From the Desk of the Superintendant

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

First, I would like to thank Pete and Jane Clarke for offering to host the February meeting. Unfortunately they had to cancel, literally at the last minute, due to that nasty COVID-19 virus. Fortunately they realized what was going on in time so they did not pass the virus on to the rest of the Division. I am hereby offering them the opportunity to be one of the 2024/2025 program years hosts.

Speaking of the 2024/2025 program year, I am seriously concerned about the future of the South Mountain Division. In last month’s Wheel Report I again issued a call for volunteers to step-up to support the Division by serving as officers, support staff, meeting hosts, and clinic presenters. To date, I have received one offer to host a meeting next year (including Pete and Jane that makes two volunteers), and no expressions to serve as officers or to fill non-elected positions.

If we cannot find members who will, at the bare minimum, fill the elected positions we will have no choice but to declare the Division inactive and turn our rather substantial Division funds over to the Mid-Eastern Region. I do not want to see this happen, but we cannot depend on only two or three people to run the Division year after year.

In addition to meeting hosts (2024/2025 program year) I am still seeking volunteers for the elected positions of:

  • Superintendent (president)
  • Clerk (secretary)
  • Paymaster (treasurer)

As per our bylaws, all Division officers must live within the Division’s territory.

There are other unofficial positions that serve at the pleasure of the Superintendent. Again, as per the bylaws the Superintendent will appoint the following committees and officials:

  • An assistant superintendent, who will act as superintendent when the superintendent is absent or otherwise unable to serve, and will perform any duties assigned by the superintendent.
  • An advisory committee, who will attend officer meetings and advise the current Division officers.
  • A nominating committee of two or more members.
  • A (financial) audit committee of two or more members.
  • An editor for the official publication of the Division.
  • An achievement program coordinator.
  • Other committees and officials, as needed, to carry on the activities of the Division.

-Bob Johnson

Bridge Out Ahead: The Past, Present, and Future of SMD

Alex Polimeni

This past decade has been a tumultuous time for the South Mountain Division. My Dad (Ron) and I first began attending membership meetings after NMRA annexed our county (Hampshire County, WV) into SMD and his email address was placed on the Wheel Report’s mailing list. The rest, as they say, is history… but let’s revisit it all the same.
My first years in SMD were under the leadership of Paul Rausch. With his unfortunate passing, assistant Superintendent Bill Wilson administered the election with three names in the hat: Don Florwick, Paul Mahoney, and my own, Alex Polimeni. The youngest Division member by at least two decades, it was incredibly humbling to receive your vote of confidence.
I served as Super for three years until declining to run again for the 2020-2021 season. Instead, the chair was turned over to Jerry Skeim with the agreement that I would serve as assistant Super to help in the transition. Sadly, Jerry became the first and only SMD member we lost to the pandemic, passing in the hospital after a severe COVID-19 infection. For the second time, I took the chair after losing our previous Super all too soon.
I’ve since yielded the chair once again, this time into Bob Johnson’s capable hands… but this job is too big for any one person, even if it’s “just” organizing a social club for model railroading. Under Paul, to me, to Jerry and Bob, the train has kept moving, but from where I’m sitting, the bridge is very much out ahead… and you, the Division, must decide if that means it’s the end of the line.
As things stand, Bob Johnson has said he will serve no more than one more year as Superintendent. Ray Price continues to serve as Treasurer, as he’s done since at least my first year as Super. Bob is currently acting as Wheel Report editor while I serve as acting Clerk. SMD has welcomed a number of new old faces and seen old ones return, yet the fact remains that we are not what we once were.
Although I kept the seat warm, I regard my time as your Super as a failure. There was so much potential I had hoped to harness, but I wasn’t the person to make good on it. The potential itself, however, remains unchanged. SMD has a storied history more than 40 years in the making, a membership that spans four states, and a crown jewel of the Mid-Eastern Region in our annual Mini-Con. With roughly 90 members at any given time, we have the potential to become a powerhouse and help the hobby to flourish in our Division.
This is your Division, but more than that, it’s our Division, each and every one of us. We decide its value, not just for ourselves, but the friendships we have because of it. If you’re reading this, think about what SMD means to you. The bridge may be out ahead, but it doesn’t have to stay that way.

-Alex Polimeni

CANCELED – Next Meeting; 11 February

The February SMD meeting will be hosted by Jane and Pete Clarke.

At the risk of being beaten by the Clarke’s, I know that the 11th is Superbowl Sunday but the meeting will be over and everyone will have time to get home before the game starts. So don’t let that keep you away.


Not really a clinic in the strictest sense of the word, but I am sure that Jane and Pete will be more than happy to give us an update on the goings on at the 12 inch to the foot version of the EBT.

Directions & Parking

Park on the street or driveway, and enter through the front door. Unfortunately, the basement is not handicapped-accessible.

Ed. – Email and we will provide the street address.

About Jane & Pete’s HOn3 EBT


We model the East Broad Top Railroad in 1926. The EBT was a narrow-gauge line that ran from coal mines in the Robertsdale area of the mountains to an iron furnace in Orbisonia/Rockhill Furnace and then up to Mount Union where there was a coal cleaning plant, refractory brick plants, and an interchange with the Pennsylvania Railroad. By 1926 the iron furnace was long gone, but on our version, it has been re-opened by the current owners, the Madeira Hill Co.The furnace consumes large amounts of coal (which needs to be coked first), limestone, and iron ore. Its output is pig iron which is then taken to Mt. Union. This has added a great deal of operational interest to the railroad. The fact that the iron furnace has reopened created a renewed need for iron ore and limestone. Both those had been mined along the Shade Gap branch of the EBT. So, the Shade Gap branch, which had fallen on hard times since the furnace closed in 1908, has been rebuilt. In Shade Gap this line serves limestone and iron ore mines. In Neelyton (the end of the Shade Gap branch) it serves the ganister mine for the refractory brick plants in Mt. Union and a lumber mill. Both towns also get miscellaneous freight and have coal dealers for home heating.

The layout is in a 20’ x 26’ basement and is fully scenicked. It’s early fall, so it’s still warm in the valley but cold on the mountain. Both of us work on models. Jane scratch built the Orbisonia station and roundhouse, Pete the company store and houses in Robertsdale. The excellent models of Ewings Mill and Neelyton station were built by Frank Benenati. Other structures are kits (many by White Ground) or kit-bashed. There are still models to be done, but there’s at least a stand-in for every structure so the layout looks complete.

All trains are powered by steam engines (by Hallmark and one Blackstone), all but two have sound. The gas-electric M-1 (with sound) handles a portion of the mail train run.

Trains run on TT/TO with a 4:1 fast clock. Control is Digitrax DCC (Simplex) using radio throttles. Car cards, timetable, instructions, and an operator’s guide let guest operators know how to run trains. The EBT is a heavy-duty, busy railroad. Only the Shade Gap branch runs with a more relaxed narrow gauge feel. All trains do their own switching, so all operators should expect plenty of work to do. While the passenger train does not have much switching of cars, that operator is required to record the sacks of mail picked up and dropped off in each town. There is one yard operator, we call that job the furnace shifter. Please let us know if you’d like to get on the crew call list.

SMD membership meetings are always the 2nd Sunday of the month at 2PM. The only exceptions are for April, when the Mini-Con replaces our business meeting, and in May, which will take place one week later, on the 3rd Sunday. We have had some issues with finding hosts for meetings this year. Please consider hosting a meeting sometime during the 2024 – 2025 program year. If you would like to host, please let me know. We try to avoid back-to-back repeat visits so if you have never hosted, or it has been a year or so since you did, give it a thought.

SMD Meeting Schedule:
March 10 – Bob Johnson, Jefferson, MD
April 6 – Mini-Con, Blue Ridge Summit, PA
May 19 (3rd Sunday) – Jay Beckham, Berkley Springs, WV