The numbers are in, and Charlestown, an Erickson Living retirement community, is pleased to announce that it welcomed a record number of visitors to its Model Railroad during 2018.
Last year, more than 2,190 visitors visited the Model Railroad, located in The Chuck Anders Train Room along Charlestown's "Main Street. These guests included 1,342 members of the Charlestown community and nearly 850 outside visitors.
"This has been a banner year for the Model Railroad," said Roberta Poulton, Co-Leader of Charlestown's Model Railroad Club.
The visitor count is up from last year, when the Model Railroad welcomed approximately 1,442 guests. Over the past five years, a total of 8,831 visitors have enjoyed the opportunity to view the intricate display.
Charlestown's Model Railroad Club was founded in 1993 by Chuck Anders and a group of residents who wanted to continue their passion for the hobby during their retirement years. After several moves around campus, a permanent home was found in the Railroad's current location in Maple Terrace. The original layout was four feet high and had an elaborate toggle switch electrical panel for the trains. There was only a small access area for visitors, right inside the door. Since then, the Railroad evolved significantly.
In 2014, the entire layout was rebuilt to make the display more accessible for children and visitors in wheelchairs. The platform was lowered to 36 inches and is now completely accessible. At the same time, the room's display window was enlarged and lowered to allow for a better view of the Railroad. In addition, the electrical system was modernized from DC (direct current) to DCC (digital command control), making it easier to have greater control over the trains, including lights, sounds and speeds.
For Roberta, whose father, grandfather and great-grandfather all worked for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, it has been a labor of love. "I originally started working on model railroads as a small child with my dad in the basement of our home over in Violetville. It was a hobby we shared for more than 30 years. I love being able to continue that tradition here at Charlestown and sharing it with the whole community."
Today, about 15 members of the Charlestown Model Railroad Club work together to maintain the display. Each member's different areas of expertise and interests are leveraged to care for the scenery, electrical and other elements of the landscape.
The group is one of more than 100 resident-run clubs that meet regularly on the Charlestown campus, celebrating a wide variety of interests. Everything from music, theater and dance to nature and outdoors groups, to hobby groups like the railroad, to spiritual, service and volunteer organizations enrich the retirement lifestyle of Charlestown's 2,000 residents.
The Model Railroad is open to visitors every Saturday from 12:00 noon until 2:00 p.m. and by special arrangement. During the holiday season, the train room offers extended hours. For the Railroad's younger visitors, the Club offers three different Treasure Hunts complete with a prize for those who are able to locate every item on the list, such as the Charlestown box car, Ravens railroad car and merry-go-round.
"Congratulations to the Model Railroad Club on this exciting milestone! We are so fortunate to have this very special group of people here at Charlestown, and we are grateful to them for sharing their talents with our community," said Clara Parker, Charlestown's Executive Director. "This record-setting year reminds us all of what can be accomplished by following your passion at any age. I'm proud to see so many of our residents doing just that each and every day, right here at Charlestown."
About Charlestown: Charlestown, one of 20 continuing care retirement communities managed by Erickson Living®, is situated on a scenic 110-acre campus in Catonsville, Maryland. The community is located in Baltimore County and is home to more than 2,000 residents who are supported by a team of more than 1,200 employees. Additional information about Charlestown can be found at CharlestownCommunity.com.