McCormick Stillman Model Railroads – Trains Too Small To Ride

Scottsdale, Arizona.

In early May, I wrote about the miniature trains and the railroad museum at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park (here) and promised that I’d feature a post on the model train displays housed in a separate 10,000 square foot (929 sq m) building.  Hosted by four clubs, there are three displays and several other railroad oriented exhibits. The opening photo features a sculpture of a train engine breaking through the building wall. Some of these images may look familiar as I featured a sampling of theme for the May 21, 2020, Lens-Artists Photo Challenge here. This post features more facts about the museum, and photos not previously published as well.

The three large displays are surrounded by areas meant for the club members to work on the trains, and in some cases, there are railroad bridges and sections of terrain that lift or open to allow members to access hard to reach areas of each display. A series of differing levels of display and built-in ramps allow those in wheelchairs and children to easily view the action going on in the displays.

I am amazed at the complexity and detail that goes into the displays. Just one example is the multiple levels of the “mountain” depicted in the photo above. Trains enter two tunnels as they climb the mountain. At the mountain top, a firefighting airplane is laying down fire retardant to snuff out a simulated fire.

Gauge display.

A globe display in the building entrance features each of the common model railroad gauges (track width and scale model size.) It is an interesting way to display several different size models that are generally available. This shot might look familiar as I also used it as the opening shot for the May 21 Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. Video screens feature facts about trains, photographs, and other smaller displays along the sides of the building provide interesting facts about model railroads and railroading in general.

Each of the sponsoring clubs is provided with 1280 square feet (119 sq m) of exhibit space as well as 270 square feet (25 sq m) in a club area that can be used as a workroom for maintenance or development of new areas in the display.

Cities of several eras are used as backdrops for the railroad action as trains rumble through them. Some display items are interactive throughout the display viewing areas. Visitors can press an “orange hand” button that will cause a specific action to occur in the display area in front of them. Putting all of this together is a marvel of automation requiring over 25,000 feet (7620 m) of electrical conduit throughout the building. With that, I submit for your review a gallery of images captured during our visit to the model railroad building at the park. Click on an image below to enlarge it and to scroll through the gallery (if your browser supports the function.)

Cue the music here then come back and view the gallery.

Notice: This post is being written during the COVID-19 pandemic and at this time, the park is closed to visitors. As of this writing (late May 2020), the park is getting ready to reopen but the museum and model railroad building will remain closed for now. Please stay safe and follow your state or country’s guidelines for travel in your region. More information on the park’s current status can be found here.

John Steiner

8 thoughts on “McCormick Stillman Model Railroads – Trains Too Small To Ride

    • You will enjoy visiting this park when you get to Arizona. By the way, you are now my most prolific commenter (based upon the last 1000 comments, WordPress Stats). Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. It’s always appreciated.

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