Ambridge model railroad club ready to debut new look

| Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, 8:26 p.m.

The Ohio Valley Lines Model Railroad Club and Museum in Ambridge has a new look, just in time for its 31st anniversary open house season.

Construction on the Merchant Street building's facade wrapped up earlier this month, following setbacks that included the discovery of two brick piers in the front wall that design plans did not accommodate. The project originally was scheduled to be completed in late August.

Because of the setbacks, club members are working extra hard to ensure the space is ready for visitors for the start of the open house on Saturday.

“We have to get everything cleaned and in order,” member Frank Kocher of Brookline said.

He hopes the new facade will help the building stand out and attract more visitors during the holiday show—the only time of year the club allows the public inside to view its model train displays and museum.

Prior to the renovations, Kocher said, not many people knew where the building was although the club has been there for more than a decade.

The new bright yellow and red facade is designed to look like an old train station, complete with freight doors, a bay window and bold lettering spelling out “Ohio Valley Lines.”

The $63,400 project, paid for in part by a grant through the Community Development Program of Beaver County, includes a new entry to the second floor that eliminates the need for club members to go outside to access it. The second floor houses a meeting room and the club's library, though Kocher said neither will be open to the public until next year because drywall and lighting still need to be installed.

Visitors to the open house will notice some changes. The club's flea market will be moved from the museum in the back of the building to a space in the front, opened up as part of the renovation.

A downtown Pittsburgh section was added to the main HO-scale railroad on the first floor, and a new N-scale model railway is being constructed in the basement. Kocher said although it'll be open to the public, the N-scale railway's scenery will not be in place.

“It's going to be bare bones,” he said, adding that the N-scale display will take about a decade to complete.

Club members erected a Lionel Model Train in the basement.

A grand opening ceremony and ribbon-cutting will be at 11 a.m. on Saturday, prior to the noon opening. During the holiday open house, which runs every weekend through Jan. 5, club members will give away three train sets at random times each day to children as part of their “Trains for Tots” program.

Kristina Serafini is a staff writer forTrib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1405

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