The Fessenden School Train Club
For almost 40 years, model trains were an important hobby for the boys at The Fessenden School. From modest beginnings in the 1930s, the train layout grew in size and complexity, ultimately covering more than 400 square feet, replete with 500 feet of flex-track, 28 track switches, and a 4-foot hand-crafted operating drawbridge. The scenery included an aerial tramway, trackless trolleys, and electronically controlled traffic signals. Two custom-designed control panels allowed five trains to be operated simultaneously.
The importance of the Train Club to the school should not be underestimated. Prospective parents and their sons were always shown the layout when they toured the campus. The Train Club prompted more than one boy to choose Fessenden rather than one of the other private schools. On at least two occasions, photographs of the layout appeared in national publications. Also, a photograph the layout was included in the school's brochures.
In the mid-1930s, the trains were Lionel standard gauge, operating temporarily on the floor of a room located under the library. Then the trains were moved to a smaller room and the layout was installed on a table. Also, the standard gauge trains were replaced by Lionel O gauge. During the 1940s, the trains migrated back to the original room, where a much larger table was built. A major expansion of the train room, including the installation of a new drawbridge, took place in the 1950s. Then in 1960, the aging train table was replaced, and an entirely new layout was built with state-of-the-art controls. Finally, the Train Club was permanently closed in the 1970s and the layout was demolished.
To learn more about the Fessenden School Train Club, visit the other pages of this Web site. There you will find vintage photographs of the layout and interesting facts about the Club's history. If you were a member of the Train Club, you may even find an old photograph of yourself.
Be sure to check out the Humor page to learn about some of the funny things that happened in the Train Room. If you have your own anecdotes that you would like to add to the page, E-mail them to me. I would like to hear from you.