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Model Preserves Railroad History In Union Station

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Denver Society of Model Railroaders display in the basement of Union Station

Denver Society of Model Railroaders display in the basement of Union Station

Since the mid-1930s Union Station has been home to a model train display in addition to playing host to all the real trains.

The Denver Society of Model Railroaders maintains the display, which covers 6,000 square feet.

“The main lines are about 4,000 feet long and it takes about 30 minutes to do a complete circuit,” explained Paul Smith with the society.

The society had the chance to move into the basement in the fall of 1935 after the Cherry Creek flood of 1933.

“The basement was flooded to a depth of about 6 feet,” said Smith. “The management of the station at the time came to the club and said ‘If you clean it up, you can build your layout down here.'”

That’s when the work began on the O-scale model.

In the seven decades since, fans of model railroads have made the journey to the basement to see the layout, to work on it and just to play.

“I knew about the club since I was a child,” said Erik Lindgren. “I lived in Iowa before we moved here about five years ago. I came down and they invited me to join. I thought I couldn’t pass that up.”

The society tries to keep the display as historically accurate as possible to the 1930s. “This represents a long term commitment by the city and the railroads,” said Smith.

The society describes itself as more like a family sharing a passion.

“There’s a lot of people going back through time who were down here,” said Smith.

“We would like to pass it on. It’s not really ours, we’re just the occupants at this particular point in time.”

The model railroad layout is open to the public once a month except in the summer. It will be open to all on May 25 from 7 until 9 p.m.

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