The Fessenden School Train Club


As the 1940s began, the Train Club was well established, although it was operating in cramped quarters.

According to the school newspaper dated February 1942:

"Train Club: On about the tenth of November [1941], forty dollars worth of equipment was installed in the train room. This included one train, two pairs of switches, one automatic uncoupler, and eighty pieces of track. A couple of weeks later a new transformer was added. Besides having a great deal of fun in running the trains, the boys get experience in electrical work, landscaping, and various other things."

Wow! All that for forty dollars!

The article went on to identify the Train Club members as:

"Wilbur, Porteous, Peter Plumley, Ben Richards, Hunneman, Reuben Richards, Hardin, Gell, Mears, Alexander, LeMay, Morley, Adams, Ingraham, Gallup, Millspaugh, and Fellner."

It's probably a good thing that the forty dollars was spent when it was. After the outbreak of World War II a month later, Lionel was forced to stop making metal trains for the duration of the war.

By the mid-1940s, the trains migrated back to the original larger room where they remained for the next 30 years. The new layout was Lionel O gauge and was constructed on a large table.

Initially, the table did not have any cutout areas that would allow the boys to reach derailed trains. As seen in the photograph above, sometimes it was necessary to walk very carefully on the table to reach the trains.

A number of low-tech features did not survive in the long run. For example, the unique elevated freight yards constructed from an Erector Set, the cardboard castle, and the magnificent painting of a crooked house and assorted sad trees eventually were replaced.

By 1948, table cutouts and mountains had been added to the layout. Under the mountains at the rear of the layout, there were more cutouts to allow access to trains in the newly built tunnel. It was great fun to be inside the tunnel watching the trains as they passed through.

In 1948, the school hosted the Vienna Choir Boys while they were performing in the Boston area. In the photo below, Peter Plumley '42 is shown running the trains for the Choir Boys.

Many improvements had been made to the layout in the 1940s, but the best was yet to come. The most significant changes took place in the 1950s.