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Fox Run Residents Now Making Model Railroad of Novi's Pere Marquette Line (circa 1950)

February 18, 2014

NOVI, MI (March 1, 2014) - Members of Fox Run retirement community's model railroad club in Novi, MI,  are now constructing a miniature replica of the Pere Marquette railroad line (circa June 1950) that still runs through Novi on the same tracks originally laid in about 1875. The club is also making models of Novi buildings from that year. They have mapped out different cities in the area such as Plymouth and Milford and have researched photographs of that era to assure accuracy in design.
The double-track railroad line consists of HO-scale trains that comprise four locomotives and 200 cars. Tracks take up 120 feet of space. Historic buildings include the Novi Methodist Church, the Novi Inn, the Novi Train Station, the Novi Township Hall, the Novi Water Tower, and the Novi Equipment Company.
The Pere Marquette was bought by the Chesapeake & Ohio in 1947, and ran under the Pere Marquette name until 1952.  It is now part of the CSX railroad.  The reason the club picked June of 1950 to model is that it was the last year steam engines ran in Michigan. Steam engines ran until December 31, 1950.
"We want to make something that is meaningful to people," said Ed MacDowell, a seven-year resident of Fox Run and a former mechanical engineer. "The work of railroaders is never done."
The club's 25 members are "hand laying" their track.  To date the club has installed about 15,000 ties, 300 feet of rails and 30 switches.  There are four spikes on every fifth tie.  
"We have lost count of the number of man hours that we have put in," said MacDowell. "The size of the rail we use corresponds in scale with the size rail still in use today."
Club members work on this project - custom-making their own tracks and ties from scratch -- on Wednesdays and Saturdays. They collaborate with the Novi Historical Commission on factual matters.
Novi Mayor Bob Gatt, himself a history buff, knows about the club's project and is said to be proud of this unusual manner in which residents are preserving Novi's history at Fox Run.
In 1950 Novi's downtown population was 200. This area, which was then known as Novi Corners, today has a population of about 57,000 and is still growing.