Train Shows

2020/2021 Holiday Train Show – Open House Schedule

Regrettably due to the current coronavirus restrictions in place, the Short Line Model Railroad Club has made the hard decision to not open for the 2020/2021 holiday season.

Our primary concern is for the members of the public.  With our narrow aisleways attendees would not be able to properly social distance while attending the show.

We look forward to next year when we can hopefully welcome everyone back to our holiday event.

For more information please contact the club at:

2019/2020 Holiday Train Show – Open House Schedule

Once again this holiday season, the Short Line Model Railroad Club of Ephrata, PA has a wonderful Christmas delight for the whole family. Everyone will enjoy viewing miniature trains rolling though the detailed scenery representative of northeastern Pennsylvania, on a 900+ foot long double tracked main line, and a 75 foot long single tracked branch line. Many of the model locomotives feature realistic steam and diesel sounds, and are controlled by wireless digital controllers. Be taken back to the days when coal was king, and the railroads were starting the switch to more modern diesel power, while still running steam locomotives.

The club will host open houses on Saturday’s and Sundays starting November 30th and continuing until January 12th, between 1:00pm and 4:00pm each afternoon.

The display is located at 11 South State Street in Ephrata, Pennsylvania. The entrance is located in the rear of the building. Admission is by donation.

Multiple Locomotives Sit Ready to Take on the Days Work at Mill Creek Yard. Photo by Jody Gontero.

Members of the club will be available to offer advice and answer questions. All phases of construction are on display, with various types of layout construction represented. The club is always open to new members, just ask any member for more information. This is a great way for individuals who have no room for a layout to run their equipment and share in an enjoyable hobby with others.

For more information please contact the club at:

About the Club

BridgeSince its foundation in 1989, the Short Line Model Railroad Club has strived toward replicating authentic railroad operations in the 1950s with an emphasis on the railroads of Eastern Pennsylvania.  In addition to operations, a large emphasis has been placed on realistic scenery and structures.

“Sharing this hobby with other people makes it much more enjoyable,” according to Keith Bear, one of the founding members.  There are many model railroad enthusiasts who “just don’t have the space or time for a nice layout in their home, and the club offers them a chance to have one.”

Prospective members and visitors are welcome at the clubs work sessions, which are held regularly every Thursday evening between 7 and 9pm.

The Short Line Model Railroad Club is located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in the town of Ephrata. We are located at 11 S. State Street, Ephrata, PA. the club operates out of the basement of the building, with the entrance around back.

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The Layout

Name: Pennsylvania Reading Anthracite Lines
Founded: 1989
Scale: HO (1:87.1)
Size: 25’ x 62’
Locale: Eastern Pennsylvania (freelance)
Era: 1950’s
Style: Walk-Around
Mainline: 250 feet, double-track
Track: Code 83, 100, Hon3 – a mix of flextrack and hand-laid
Minimum Turnout: Mainline #7
Minimum Radius: 22″
Maximum Grade: 1.4%
Height: 43 – 48″
Control: DCC; Digitrax Digtial Command Control with detection
Benchwork: Mix of open girder and plywood subroadbed
Roadbed: Homasote & cork
Scenery: Hardshell


Pennsylvania-Reading Anthracite Lines (PRAL)

Crew members shuffle the logging line during an operating session.
Crew members shuffle the logging line interchange at the base of Bear Mountain.

The PRAL is the extensive, beautifully sceniced model railroad built by the Short Line Model Railroad Club.  In the summer of 2014, a small group decided to try their hand at running the PRAL as an operational railroad.  The club had not held operating sessions to any significant level over the years, so this was a ‘new to us’ venture.  As most crew members were relative rookies to operations, we were literally starting from scratch with a layout that had not been designed with operations in mind. Please note that PRAL operating sessions are restricted to club members.  If you are interested, please contact SLMRC leadership to inquire about joining our crew.


Our goals are:

  • have fun running the railroad
  • make the operations sessions fun for operators of all skill levels
  • improve our knowledge of how railroads work
  • improve our DCC skills
  • learn how to tune our motive power and rolling stock so they run really well
  • give potential members an additional reason to join the SLMRC

Once we decided to jump in, we needed a plan.  To get started, we faced five major tasks:

      1. Operations were defined as trains originating and terminating while doing some railroad work along the way.
      2. Locate the PRAL on the Pennsylvania map, ultimately choosing Hornburg (just west of Tamaqua) as the Eastern terminal (RDG and LV connections) and North Umberland (PRR connection) as our Western  terminal.
      3. Name every location and track on the layout, then post ‘good enough for now’ signage on the fascia.
      4. Develop an operational plan for the railroad.  At first we just focused on the 50′ long branch line, a few trains and a hearty crew of 4 to 6 members.  Within a few months, we greatly expanded the scope to include the 250′  double track main.  Our current plan includes mainline and branch passenger, freight and coal traffic.  Some manifest freights run
        terminal to terminal, others work local switching dropping and picking up cars along the way.  Coal traffic is very prominent.
      5. We are currently testing a car card method of managing the 180 to 240 cars that move in typical operating sessions.
Car cards identify the destination of each piece of rolling stock on the layout.
Car cards identify the destination of each piece of rolling stock on the layout.

We are now refining many of our methods and control procedures to smooth out our operations.  Our progress to date has been accomplished without physical changes to the layout, but we are now considering priority upgrades based on our experiences.  Expansion of the operational plan will allow a broader mix of possible operating options to include mainline running, local freight, local switching, and terminal switching.  As the city of Hornburg nears completion this Spring, more than 10 additional local switching sites will become part of our adventure.  A major coal mine at Montvale Junction should come on line at about the same time.


We currently publish a monthly ‘first-come, first served’ email call board for job selection and are considering some type of ‘seniority’ system option.

Operations are scheduled for the 2nd and 4th Mondays of each month.  Motive power should be fired up and ready to go by 6:45 PM.  After a short dispatchers meeting, trains start to roll.  Most sessions last about two and a half hours. We cancel operations if a weather advisory, watch or warning has been posted by WGAL for any part of Lancaster county for that Monday afternoon or evening.

The branchline is seen here getting a workout during an operating session
The branchline is seen here getting a workout during an Ops Session

It has been a fun, rewarding and learning process for every member of our crew.  We are all better model railroaders now than when we started.  It will be exciting to see how far our operating sessions progress by this time next year.

PRAL Schematic as of 2-15-15
SLMRC Ops Schematic as of 2-15-15




2013 Short Line Model Railroad Club Member PhotoYOU are invited to join the Short Line Model Railroad Club.  Our only prerequisite is a love of railroading and a willingness to actively support the organization.  Experience in model railroading is not necessary; membership in the Club is the best way of learning.  Members are encouraged to actively participate in Club activities and support the organization in whatever way is individually possible.

To learn more about joining the Short Line Model Railroad club you are welcome to visit us during our Thursday work session or contact us at

Click to Download a Membership Application