Little Trains – Big Fun

McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park’s newest attraction is the 10,000 square foot model railroad building that houses four model railroad clubs, three layouts and a variety of exhibits and hands-on amenities. The LEED-Gold building was designed to weave contemporary architecture into a long and low structure that recalls the style of 19th century train sheds. From the building’s lobby, you can see at least eight scales of trains, from the smallest Z-scale to the full-sized Roald Amundsen Presidential Pullman Car.

A few interesting facts about the building:

  • Throughout the building, orange hands are incorporated into the layouts that when touched by a visitor, cause different items on the layouts to move.
  • Each club has 1,280 square feet of exhibit space that is viewable on all four sides. This creates over 450 feet of up close viewing.
  • The building is unique in that the built-in ramps allow small children and people in wheelchairs to view the layouts without a step or lift.
  • Two large video screens show a wide range of train related videos. Future plans are for cameras located in the club locomotives to project video on the screens.
  • The building has over 25,000 feet of electrical conduit either underground or on the roof.
  • In addition to exhibit space, each club has approximately 270 square feet of club workroom space.

McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park – Model Railroad Exhibit Building was the winner of the 2012 Scottsdale Environmental Design Award (SEDA) because it is aesthetically expressive, and a variety of sustainable technologies were incorporated into the design.

HO Gauge

The Scottsdale Model Railroad Historical Society began in 1968; members have been meeting at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park for 35 years. The club’s layout features two railroads. The Paradise & Pacific recreates standard gauge trains in HO-scale, and the Uncompahgre & San Juan which recreates a narrow gauge railroad in HOn3 scale.

Railroads have contributed significantly to Arizona’s growth and development for more than a century. The model that the club is building here is a snapshot of Arizona railroading since the mid-1960s. As the layout develops over time, you will begin to see the towns and railyards that represent real communities from Flagstaff to Safford, including a major switchyard in Phoenix. The narrow gauge railroad runs between the historic mining communities of Jerome and Ash Fork, and passes through Flagstaff.

Authenticity and attention to detail are hallmarks of the Scottsdale Model Railroad Historical Society. When club members operate the railroad, they’re equally particular: if you watch closely, you may be able to pick out who are the engineers, the brakemen, yardmasters and other real-life railroad employees. Everyone is working hard to make certain that even these model trains run on time and stick to the schedule!

Please visit Scottsdale Model Railroad Historical Society (HO gauge)

O Gauge

The Paradise & Pacific Railroad Club was founded in 1975 and has operated at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park since it began. It was originally called a “Tinplate” club after early toy trains that were made of inexpensive, lightweight steel plated with tin. The club runs “O-gauge” trains on a layout where it’s not only the trains that move but a variety of lively, action items: from cranes moving loads and cars pulling in and out of gas stations to a crazy “town” of prairie dogs popping in and out of their underground burrows! Around and on the layout, you can see many real Arizona industries represented.

O-gauge trains were made popular by the Lionel Corporation, which, by 1903, was manufacturing electric toy trains, including track, metal cars, a locomotive and a suspension bridge. It’s not uncommon for today’s model railroaders to have started enjoying their hobby as little kids who owned Lionel trains. To this day, one P & P Club member proudly declares, “I don’t make models… I play with trains!”

This Paradise & Pacific railroad is always changing. There are locomotives and rolling stock from many different manufacturers. Club members regularly bring in and run trains from their personal collections as well. Some engines are powered using traditional electric controls while others are truly 21st century: they’re digital with wireless remote control devices that allows the ”engineers” to move trains in different directions, speed up or slow down, uncouple cars and blow whistles at will. Don’t miss an opportunity to help operate the trains when a member hands you a controller!

Please visit Paradise & Pacific Railroad Club (O gauge)

N Gauge

The Sun N Sand Model Railroad Club was founded in 1973 and moved to Scottsdale’s McCormick Railroad Park five years later. Club members are passionate about creating unique environments for their miniature N-scale trains. Because of the railroad’s small size, the club is also able to run exceptionally long trains in which the engine can pull dozens of cars.

This layout uses N-gauge track and, in some areas, a special modular system called N-Trak. Individual N-Trak units are built using common specifications for the location of the tracks. The 4-foot wide modules are like individual dioramas that can be picked up and moved to various locations with the assurance that they’ll connect quickly and easily with other units in a layout. Sun N Sand is the oldest N-Trak Modular club in the United States.

The Sun N Sand model railroad invites close inspection: look hard and see if you can find any of the teeny-tiny, fun and funny details that are tucked here and there among the trees, around the buildings and on the trains themselves. On the new layout, Arizona’s Famous “5 C’s” (cattle, cotton, copper, citrus and climate and maybe some extra “C’s” too) are featured. You may also want to look for the club’s custom-made cars: one is a Southern Pacific car (#592002) with the club’s logo and the words Arizona Copper marked on the hoods and the other is a set of six painted boxcars that celebrates Route 66 with a bright red highway map running from Chicago to Santa Monica, California.

Please visit sun-n-sand.org (N gauge)

Scottsdale Live Streamers

The Scottsdale Live Steamers have been a staple at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park since the park’s inception in 1975. Located next to the model railroad building, the Scottsdale Live Steamers Club provide rides on totally renovated track through the gorgeous 2 acre desert arboretum and features a covered loading platform, top-of-the-line storage and work facility, as well as an air conditioned club room in the model railroad building. With three tracks totaling more than 3,500 feet in length, the club provides rides on 1½ to 1 foot scale equipment on Sundays during the months of October through May and also provides rides each night during the annual Holiday Lights event at the park.

The club always welcomes new members to come out and enjoy the hobby. Imagine coming out and running trains followed by a visit to the park’s Hartley’s General Store for a hand dipped ice cream and drink!

Please visit Scottsdale Live Steamers