In the sleepy little town of Crockett, nestled between the Carquinez Bridge and the C&H Sugar plant, sits a building that was built by the Odd Fellows, now occupied by another group of “Odd Fellows” known as the Carquinez Model Railroad Society.
The CMRS was originally founded in 1976 as the Vallejo Model Train Club at the Solano County Fairgrounds. Due to the County Fairgrounds Association desire to redevelop the fairgrounds in 2004, without providing space for the club, it began to search for a new home. In May of 2005, the club signed a five year lease with a new landlord, The Independent Order of Odd Fellows. The Vallejo layout was demolished and the name was changed to “Carquinez Model Railroad Society.” For those of you who remember the trains at the fair, this is what happened to them.
It’s all about the details
The CMRS is an HO Scale (1:87 scale or about an 1/8” per foot) model railroad that loosely follows the Southern Pacific line between Oakland, CA and Sparks, NV. The double track railroad passes through many locales such as Richmond, Hercules, Crockett (with a scale model of the C & H Sugar plant and the approach to the Carquinez Bridge), Port Costa, and Martinez. After Martinez, the railroad climbs up, just like the real tracks do, to cross the Benicia – Martinez Railroad bridge on the way to Fairfield.
The centerpiece of the layout is a scale model of the Benicia – Martinez Railroad Bridge. This is scaled down version of it, but no less as impressive as the real one. After the bridge, the railroad arrives in Fairfield at the Budweiser Brewery and then branches off to Napa at Fairfield.
After Fairfield, the railroad climbs what is called a helix to reach the third level. The CMRS is built on three levels with two large helixes on opposite corners of the layout providing a connection between the different levels. The railroad is a “mushroom style” design with narrow but long tabletop space that is stacked like bunk beds. An elevated walkway allows access to the top level. The helixes connect the first levels of Tracy and Stockton staging yard to Oakland and up to Sparks to simulate trains from Eastern origins. The other helix spans the distance between Fairfield and Davis.
Once at Davis, the railroad continues onto Sacramento, the Capital of California. Travelling beyond Sacramento, the railroad begins the climb of the Sierra Nevada’s. This is the original Transcontinental Railroad. After the climb over the top is completed, the railroad arrives in Sparks, NV.
The CMRS is a group of modelers from Benicia, Martinez and beyond, who join together to run this amazing railroad and enjoy the company of other fellow modelers. The railroad is open four times a year to the public, the remaining open houses for 2019 are October 12th and 13th, as well as December 7th and 8th between the hours of 10am and 4pm. There is a suggested donation of $5 for adults over 16 years of age. We look forward to seeing you there. 645 Loring Ave; Crockett, CA.