The San Jacinto Model Railroad Club History and Activities

by Robert Barnett

The San Jacinto Model Railroad Club is the oldest existing model railroad club in the Houston area. Established in the late 1950’s the club originally met in members homes with a monthly dues of 25 cents, payable at the door. The SJMRRC essentially functioned as the local presence of the Lone Star Region (LSR) of the National Model Railroad Association, and hosted the LSR Conventions held in Houston until the Gulf Coast Division of the LSR assumed that duty in the late 1980’s.

The first San Jacinto Model Railroad Club Jamboree was held in 1972 at the Hobby Airport Hilton. The gathering was a success and became an annual affair with the name changing to the Greater Houston Train Show in 2003. In the early years the shows were held at various hotels around Houston, followed by several years at the Corpus Christi School (Stella Link near the South Loop). As larger quarters were required we moved to the Humble Convention Center in the 1990’s and to the Stafford Centre in 2005.

The first November Layout Tours were conducted in 1972, and began with a handful of local layouts mostly inside Loop 610. By the time the NMRA National Convention was held in Houston the tour contained 24 layouts. In 2004 the November Layout Tour changed to the Fall Layout Tour expanding to 8 weeks in October, November, and December. In recent years there have been over 60 layouts on the tour each year with locations from College Station to Galveston, Willis to Lake Jackson, and Katy to Beaumont.

The club has members in all active scales and many of our members are also active in other area clubs that are building permanent operating layouts or have modular layouts that set up at train shows and special events. The SJMRRC meets the first Tuesday of every month, except December at the Bayland Park Community Center. Visitors are always welcome.