The Nordel Model Train club has its home at Hockessin's Stone Mill Office Center
If the miniature scale trains at Auburn Heights aren’t small enough for you, then the Nordel Model Train Club in Hockessin has got you covered.
Nearing its 30th year as a club, Nordel (that is, “Northern Delaware) is a group of roughly 20 members from throughout the region that share a common lifelong passion for model trains.
Nestled in the upper floor of a corner spot at the Stone Mill Office Plaza in Hockessin is a winding track on a 20-minute loop that the designers dubbed the fictitious “Northern Delaware Railroad.”
The make-believe line has a full history on the club’s website, nordelmodelrr.org, dating the line back to the 1860s under the equally fictional Northern Delaware Railroad Company.
“They’d discussed various names, one being Penn Lines, but that was a bus company at one time, so the old timers said no way,” said club president Glenn Gunter. “They argued back and forth and eventually came up with Northern Delaware Railroad Company.”
Gunter added that while portions of the line replicate possible local vistas it may encounter, the line itself and its path from Delaware to northern Virginia are completely imaginary.
“The closest thing is Wilmington,” he said. “It doesn’t have anything to do with any real railroad.”
Like most of the other members of the club, Gunter is a lifelong model train enthusiast; his father owned several, and in 1953 (the year he was born), Gunter’s mother won a train in December that spent many years beneath their Christmas tree.
He’s also worked for CSX and the B&O, so he’s experienced with the full-size trains.
The club has a modular transportable layout that is used for trips to Auburn Heights, and to a regional model train expo in Wilmington each winter, Gunter said.
The layout is a constant work in progress and requires constant maintenance in one form or another, according to club member Paul Welsh.
Regardless of electrical or logistical problems, however, the layout is always evolving.
“If that stops, then you stop dreaming, and you never want to stop dreaming,” he said.
The public is welcome to view the layout. For contact information, visit nordelmodelrr.org.