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Model Railroad Club’s Long-Time Location Nears End of The Line

By Charles Feldman, Reporter

The Metro East Model Railroad Club is about to reach the end of the line.

The historic building where it meets – the old firehouse at 180 Summit Street in Glen Carbon – may be up for renovations this year. And one of the first things to go may be that large train display that takes up the ground floor – and the 25-year-old club that built and operates it.

“The city of Glen Carbon has said they want to improve the  building and we were asked to leave,” said railroad club member and former officer Bill Birdsell, a Wood River area resident. “So far we haven’t found another place to go, but we’ll be taking down the layout.”

“It did come as a little surprise when it was announced to us,” he said.  “Some members are a little upset more than others about this.

“We will salvage as much as we can, you know, but as far as the structure is concerned it will probably be cannibalized, unfortunately,” he said.

The railroad club will hold its final open house on Saturday, January 4 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

“We’ll have trains running,’ Birdsell said. “There will be some food there. No admission fee. It’s free. Even the food is free.”

Built in 1910, the old firehouse also served as Village Hall during the early days of Glen Carbon.

“We were hoping to get it renovated because it’s in pretty bad shape and needed a lot of work, but I don’t know if the train club will have to move or leave,” said Museum Coordinator Jessica Mills. “I don’t know what the plan is for that.

“Nothing is set in stone right now,” she said.
“It’s still pretty early.”

“We’re trying to apply for some grant money to do some renovation on the building,” said Village Administrator Jamie Bowden. “We haven’t set a deadline.

“We’re sitting it out with them,” he said. “I tried to reach out to them. I think the museum’s going to sit down with them.”

The club has been looking at different options, Birdsell said.

“So far we haven’t come up with anything that would be reasonable price-wise because we don’t have that kind of money,” he said. “We’re having people research it and see it we can find another place. It means starting all over again.

“We had twenty-five years,” he said. “We can’t complain about that.”

Attempts to reach building and zoning administrator Stacy Jose by press time were unsuccessful.


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