Club History 1980-85;
The Early Years
The club was founded on January 7, 1980 by 5 people: Bill Gold, Bryan Schaffer, Bob Danner, Paul Rossi, and Jim Emory. The first meeting was held in the Trainland Hobby Shop in Nazareth. The 3rd floor of the G. C. Murphy 5 & 10 at 23 Belvedere St. in Nazareth was rented for $75.00 per month. The room was 66 feet long by 33 feet wide. O and HO layouts were planned. The first meeting at Murphy’s on January 14th was attended by 24 people.
The initial name for the club was D L & W. This only lasted for about a week. N.A.S.M.E. was approved as the official name.
Three classes of members were set: Senior, with dues of $3.00 per month and Student, (15 to 17 yrs) with dues of $1.50 per month and Junior (Under 15) no dues.
The first officers were appointed. They were: Bill Gold, President and Treasurer and Bryan Schaffer, Secretary.
Work groups were appointed to clean and paint the room so layout construction could begin. A By-Law Committee was also appointed.
Member donations and raffles were the initial source of funds. By mid 1980 the club had 33 members, 22 HO and 11 O gauge.
Construction of the layouts apparently was a noisy operation. A person broke into the club and destroyed a layout platform. When police apprehended him he said his reason was because members made too much noise. He paid $128.00 for the damages.
The first official election was held in March 1980. President Richard Kromer, Vice President Dave Nafzinger, Secretary Bryan Schaffer and Treasurer Bill Gold.
In April, 1981 members invited their families and employees of G. C. Murphy to the first open house. Eighty-five people attended including 17 club members. The first open house for the public was held in November 1981. Admission was free. About 1000 people attended and donated $347.42.
Work continued on the layouts through 1985. Unfortunately the minutes from December 1981 to October 1985 can’t be found. However we did find records that showed Open House was held each year from 1982 to 1985. Attendance averaged 2000 people each year. These notes also indicated portable layouts were constructed in early 1985 for O an HO gauge. These were set up at various Malls in the area on weekends for the public’s enjoyment. Mall management paid us a fee for our presence.
The first 5 years ended with the members being notified the Murphy building had been sold and they must move.
The layouts were dismantled and stored in members garages, barns etc.
Starting Over: 1986-1990
Meetings were held at Trains and Lanes and at member’s homes until new quarters were found. An application had been made to Incorporate N.A.S.M.E. This was approved on February 7, 1986.
New quarters were found in July 1986. It was in Yeisley’s Furniture Store at 436 South Main St. in Nazareth, PA. Rent was $200.00 per month. Planning was started to modify the layouts to fit the new space.
Bad news came again. We had to move by the end of 1986. We had to dismantle what had been started so we did not have an open house in 1986.
Luckily we found a new location almost immediately. It was our present quarters at 212 Main St. in Stockertown. This was a firehouse that was being vacated because a new one had been built. The Borough of Stockertown agreed to lease the building to us for $75.00 per month plus utilities.
In January 1987 O gauge began moving into the second floor. Fire trucks were still being stored in the first floor so HO gauge had to wait.
Portable layouts were built for S gauge and LGB. These were also used for Mall displays. The LGB layout was individually owned by Bill Gold.
Trains were running on the second floor for the November 1987 open house. We had 1,382 visitors.
HO gauge moved into the first floor in May 1988. Construction began and trains were running on both floors for the November 1988 open house. We had 2,032 visitors.
An N gauge layout was built on the second floor. Also S gauge tracks were placed inside the O gauge loop. A trolley line was added as well. Three layouts were running for the 1989 open house. We had 2,750 visitors.
Construction continued thru 1990. Scenery was started on the O gauge layout and an elevated section was built on the HO layout. N gauge had bench work completed and were running trains for the November 1990 open house.
We advertised in local papers and distributed flyers for the first time in 1990. This resulted in 3,959 people attending our open house
Making Progress: 1991-1995
We started 1991 with 59 members on the rolls, 28 HO gauge, 21 O gauge, 5 N gauge and 5 S gauge.
Layout construction and adding scenery continued in 1991. HO built a container handling facility. A hump classification yard was also constructed.
Club members and families took a Rail Fan trip on the Black River and Western RR in Ringos N.J. Everyone enjoyed the ride from Ringos to Flemington N.J. and return.
For the first time the club purchased a private collection of Lionel trains and accessories from an individual in East Stroudsburg. The objective was to re-sell the collection to raise funds for the club. This was the start of the program we now call the Flea Market.
In October 1991 the decision was made to have a special open house in the evening for Scouts. The Monday night after the fall open house was designated as scout night.
Open house during Christmas week was started in 1992. A lighted sign was purchased in November 1992. This was placed in front of the building with open house dates displayed.
The first raffle of a starter train set was done in 1992. Raffle tickets for an LGB set were sold at the open house and at the malls.
Show advertising and fund raising were the main topics discussed at meetings in 1992.
1993 started with 57 members. Dues were $72.00 per year for Senior Members.
Our first spring open house was held in late February 1993. This was scheduled for the weekend of the Allentown Train Show. The intent was people could buy trains at Allentown in the morning and come to our club to run them in the afternoon. The first spring open house had 596 visitors who donated $599.00.
We encountered financial problems early in 1993. Open house attendance was decreasing and expenses were increasing. The decision was made to levy a $3.00 per month dues surcharge on Members. This would get us through 1993.
Our club was included on the list of tour clubs for the August 1993 NMRA convention held in the Valley Forge Convention Center. During the 3-day event we hosted 168 people from 28 states, 3 Canadian Provinces and 2 towns in the United Kingdom.
We began 1994 with 39 members. 18 were dropped for non-payment of dues, which contributed to our financial problem. Emphasis was placed on a membership drive to get new members through ads, publicity etc.
New steel doors were installed in August 1994. This was done to replace the old wooden doors and improve security. New locks and deadbolts were also installed.
Layout construction continued with improvements being made to add additional details to existing scenery and buildings, the HO helix was built.
1995 started with 52 members. The membership drive was successful, adding 13 people. The increased member count helped alleviate our financial problem somewhat. However we had to drastically reduce the amount of funds available for layout improvements in order to meet our budget.
A 1995 objective was to increase attendance at our annual open house. Our energies were concentrated on flyer distribution to local shops and businesses. An increased attendance was noted.
Our Own Place: 1996-2000
Members on the roll at the beginning of 1996 were 46. Moving out of the area and deaths were the cause of the reduction.
A model railroad kit building instruction class was held. Six students attended the 4-session course.
A clambake was held in September 1996 to raise funds. 30 people attended.
1997 started with notification from the Stockertown Borough Council they have decided to sell our building. Much discussion and voting resulted in the decision to submit a bid for the building. Members approved a certificate sale to raise the down payment. Obtaining a mortgage was also looked into.
We bid $40,000.00. Borough Council rejected it as too low. There was a bid from one other person that did not meet the bidding criteria. It was lower than ours. Council re-advertised for bids.
Our second bid for $43,500.00 was accepted by Council. We had closing on the building on June 19, 1997. Certificate funds and a private mortgage were used to pay for the building.
One of our members established our web site in February 1997.
We had our first meat drawing in April 1997.
We decided to set a suggested donation of $3.00 for adults and $5.00 for a family during our 1997 fall open house. Previously, visitors donated whatever they wanted to.
Our financial position began to weaken in 1997 due to increased expenses associated with building ownership.
Dues were increased for 1998. Senior members dues were raised to $150.00 per year. Senior citizen $120.00 and Booster $50.00.
In October 1998 our club was open for a weekend for visitors attending the NMRA Mid-Eastern Region meeting in Allentown.
Cardinal Productions of Bethlehem made a video of our layouts. The video was sponsored by the TCA.
We participated in Nazareth Days in July 1999 with tables of railroad related items for sale.
We appealed the assessed valuation of the building and received a reduction from a value of $41,900 to $25,000 resulting in a reduction in property taxes.
The new century year 2000 was our 20th anniversary. We celebrated in January with a small party at the club.
Also in January we hosted a school group of 8 – 10 year olds. Layouts were running for the children’s enjoyment.
Borough Council sent us a letter in June 2000 saying we had to replace the sidewalk in front of our building immediately. An extension was granted giving us time to raise funds and hire a contractor
Building Maintenance: 2000-2004
Remodeling the garage has started and will be completed as funds permit. We intend to use this as a meeting room.
Our first spaghetti supper was held at the Schoeneck Moravian church in Nazareth in October 2001.
We hit a snag with the sidewalk replacement in 2002. We contracted with a person who wanted $2000.00 to start replacement. After paying him he didn’t do the work. We then contracted with J & L contracting of Easton for the replacement. It was completed in June 2002 and cost $3,780.00.
Members were requested to buy certificates again to alleviate our financial problem. $400.00 worth was purchased.
We participated in the Toys for Tots program by assisting with layout coverage.
In April 2003 we refinanced our existing 9.5% mortgage to 5.75% for 10 years with Merchants Bank in Bangor.
Emphasis was placed on re-modeling the garage in the back of the building so we can start using it for a meeting room.
2004 started with another problem. The brick facade on the southeast corner of the second floor was in danger of collapsing. Borough Council directed us to cancel our March open house and get the bricks repaired or they would condemn the building.
Repairs were started in March and completed in late May by contractor Rich Serfass. The front of the second story of the building was painted by Serfass. Total cost of this project was $11,513.89. We paid for it with general funds and an equity loan at 7% interest from Merchants Bank in Bangor.
During the spring of 2004 members scheduled several work nights to paint the woodwork on the building. Vinyl siding was installed on the garage walls.
Dues were raised by $5 per month starting in April 2004. This was needed to make payments on the equity loan for brick repair.
2004 ended with renewed emphasis placed on increasing attendance at our open house.
A Brighter Future: 2005-2015
We are still participating in Nazareth Day and Martin on Main. Due to KNBT closing we no longer set up our portable layout there. Dinners have been put on hold for the moment. We added a few more open house shows in recent years. We have been showing our portable O Gauge layout at the Blue Valley Farm Show in Bangor, PA. We also display our layout at Thomas the Tank in Phillipsburg, NJ. Please check our show dates for these events. We were able to change our status to a 501c3 organization, this means donations are tax deductible! So please Donate Money to us :) Our bathroom has gone though an update which was sorely needed. We had to replace our original single pane rotted windows and boarded up a few. This has saved us some on the heating bill as well as keeping our building in good condition. November 2015 show season started off on a sad note with the passing of Founding member Bill Gold. He will not be forgotten and his contributions to this club will live on.
Four layouts occupy the space in our building; O, S, HO and N gauge are all under one roof! The O gauge layout occupies 90% of the second floor and the HO gauge fills out the entire first floor (where the fire truck parked) and has its own second level containing a hump yard, steel mills and a massive helix to join the two levels. Portable layouts are part of the N.A.S.M.E. tradition, currently our O Gauge layout will be at a few events throughout the year.
The equity loan for the brick facade was paid off and provided some relief to the general funds. Advertising spending was increased and proved to be affective.
In 2008 we operated a burger and hot dog stand at "Nazareth Day Festival", this proved to be a good fund raiser and helped us stay out of financial trouble. Later that year we participated in the 175th Martin Guitar celebration "Martin on Main" with a modular layout display at the Main Street branch of KNBT.
In 2009 we were able to sell burgers at "Martin on Main" along with "Nazareth Day", both were good morale boosters as well as dearly needed fund raisers.
We started holding our dinners at St. Johns UCC, this proved to be a better location for our events and overall improvement. The Spring and Fall of 2009 we held a Spaghetti dinner and a Pork & Sauerkraut dinner, both were well attended and trains were running on our modular layout too.
Full Head of Steam:
National Canal Museum
In 2018 the National Canal Museum of Easton, PA approached NASME with a request: A layout for their 150th Anthracite Anniversary. They requested the layout be able to be moved from their temporary showroom to other locations, so a 6' x 12' modular layout was created that could be broken down into three sections.
One small hiccup with that plan existed: We would have to build the layout in under seven weeks. By April 1 2019 the museum had built the tables they wanted us to construct the layout on. It was due by May 24. The NASME members, regardless of scale, banded together and got the job done. The two-line DC layout was well received by the museum, and became a highly popular attraction during that summer. By the end of their showing season, a decision had to be made: to store the layout, or display it. The response was so overwhelmingly positive, that the National Canal Museum decided to move the layout from the temporary exhibit room, to a permanent spot on the main display floor. Our members regularly check up on and maintain the layout, and it sits in the main display hall to this day.
The layout features a two-track main line, a coal mine, company patch town, and yard on one side, and a city full of companies that used anthracite as end users on the other. It also features a model of a portion of a canal, set in the 1910s, when the Lehigh Valley began to shift from Canal boat transportation of coal and goods to the railroads.