A Brief History of the NVRRA

The Nashua Valley Railroad Association was founded in 1952, as a visiting and social Model Railroad club. In 1958, space for a layout was acquired in the basement of the local hobby and photo store in Clinton, Massachusetts, and construction was begun on its first HO scale layout. This layout was modeled after the Clinton area and featured the B&M’s Central Mass Division.

In 1968, the first layout was dismantled and stored while the club planned its new quarters in Bolton, MA. A new layout was designed, using the best parts of the original layout, and then construction began. This second “HO” scale layout was of a freelance design using towns named after the original founding members and was 26 x 36 foot with a separate meeting room and workshop.

In 1978, an addition to the quarters was built by the members. And with the advent of Dynatrol Walk-around control system, a new “HO” scale 26 x 66 foot layout was designed and built. This layout was one of the best and largest permanent layouts in New England. In addition to the craftsmanship displayed, the layout recreates local scenes typical of the New England Area.

The Association was incorporated, in the early 1980’s, for the purpose of establishing and maintaining places to hold meetings and to perform and encourage Educational, Social and Civic activities and to that end holds several shows and/or Open Houses each year. Some examples are an Open House usually held in the Spring in conjunction with an Annual Railfair consisting of Hobby Dealers, Manufacturers, other Clubs and individual Modelers.

In 1980 the old layout was removed and additional areas of the new layout were begun. By 1986, virtually all of the track was installed an operational. From there, the club had determined that Dynatrol’s limitations had to be addressed. So the club switched to the new CTC-80 Command Control system. Further developments occurred with Command Control Carrier systems and the club decided to upgrade the system to Railcommand which was compatible with CTC-80 and offered more control channels.

In the summer of 2001 the decision was made to convert to the NMRA standard Digital Command Control (DCC) for running our layout. This DCC system allowed us to run as many trains as we wanted to simultaneously with independent operation. We installed the DCC system manufactured by North Coast Engineering Co. During testing, we found we could simultaneously operate 35 different locomotives and allow all locos to do different things at the same time. This system greatly improved our ability to operate our layout.

Our layout at this time featured an accurate representation of Downtown Nashua, NH along with several of the “smoke-stack” industries in many of the smaller towns along the line. Scenes from the “rock-bound” coast of Maine to the rolling hills of central Massachusetts and western Connecticut will be accurately depicted. A section of a Maine 2-foot gauge railroad was represented by the Waldo & Kennebeck RR.

The layout modeled a fictitious railroad called New England Rail System with major yards at Calais, ME., Nashua, NH. and Maybrook, NY. It allowed for an accurate depiction of local and through bridge rail traffic, and interchanged service with most major railroads.

In September 2002, the Association and its New England Rail system was featured in Model Railroader Magazine® as part of the clubs 50th Anniversary. The club also offered 3 different Anniversary Freight Cars.

In 2007, our organization decided to relocate to our current quarters in Phoenix Park, Shirley, MA. (formerly the Sampson Cordage Works). We are building and maintaining a museum quality HO scale model railroad layout for our members and the public to enjoy on a regular basis. We are modeling both urban and rural locations within the New England area. We are including many of the facilities located in the Greater Shirley MA area which are, or have been, serviced by various railroads. We continue to hold “operating sessions” for our members in which we simulate the operations of a real railroad on our layout. We plan to be open to the public more so than we have been in the past so that the public can enjoy our facility.

The Association currently has around 40 members and offers various classes of memberships. Senior membership is available to anyone age 18 or older, while Junior Membership is offered to anyone between the ages of 12 and 21 (parental membership and supervision required for those applying under age 18). An Associate Membership is offered to those who can not be as active in the Association. A Sustaining Membership is also offered to those who wish to support the Association but who do not wish to attend.

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