North Metro MRRC

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DakotaLove39

Always Improvising
Hey folks, I've done plenty of posting about the club that I am a member of but I'd like to share this one that I visited back in March. This is the North Metro Model Railroad Club in Coon Rapids, Minnesota. The layout is built to represent BNSF's Hinckley Sub (Minneapolis to Duluth) and Staples Sub (Minneapolis to Fargo). Beyond that I don't know many specifics, other than they have Digitrax Loconet and active CTC. From my understanding they have weekly operating sessions with timetables and car cards or switch lists.

This club hosts twice-yearly Open Houses to the public, combined with a railroad flea market in a neighboring building. For folks nearby who want to visit, I'd suggest looking up their Facebook page and many videos from the club can be found on YouTube.

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Northtown yard, Minneapolis, MN.
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If I'm not mistaken this is the Northstar commuter rail equipment shop.
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otiscnj

Well-Known Member
There for a minute I thought it had something to do with Metro North-the old NYC and NH commuter lines around New York City. My mistake.

Looks like a nice layout-a long way from the NYC area, however. How big is the layout? Is it in a fairgrounds of some sort? Do they ever host visitors from other clubs at other times of the year?
 

DakotaLove39

Always Improvising
How big is the layout?
Huge. I'm not sure of the exact measurements.
Is it in a fairgrounds of some sort?
Nope, it's in the basement of a strip mall type building.
Do they ever host visitors from other clubs at other times of the year?
Based on some dialogue with one member I bought a loco from, and videos from MN's #1 resident railroad photographer they allow guests on a special basis, such as friends. I'd love to pursue the chance to operate there just once, but I live a long way from Coon Rapids.
 

DakotaLove39

Always Improvising
I'd love to pursue the chance to operate there just once, but I live a long way from Coon Rapids.
Ain't it amazing what happens in a few months? I buy a GP60M from one guy, I start talking to others, next thing I know I am invited to operate at this club as a guest during an open house event. I was at North Metro with two of my own trains for about 12 hours this past Saturday. I made sure to meet a few people I have been in contact with via the internet, hopefully building new friendships.

Two guys from this club are now on me to join it. Hmmm...

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montanan

Whiskey Merchant
Impressive photos. That is quite the layout. Feel free to post more. I know I would like to see more.

I like the large open space you have. My club is in the basement of the baggage room in the old Northern Pacific Depot in Livingston, MT. We pay no rent as the depot is now a museum and the layout is considered part of the museum. The only problem we have is that the layout occupies three rooms and communications between operators can sometimes be a problem. We have a train show/swap meet once a year, coming up at the end of April. We will have the layout open to the public of course.. It is also open to the public during operating nights, Saturday from 7 to 9 PM year round and in the summer on Thursdays from 1 PM to 4 PM.
 

logandsawman

Well-Known Member
Very impressive club layout!

Part of the same area I am modelling, however I am several decades earlier...

Thanks for sharing it!
 

Greg@mnrr

Section Hand
Great looking layout and an impressive size. I would love to join a large and run long trains over long routes.

Keep the photographs coming.

Greg
 

DakotaLove39

Always Improvising
Thanks folks, I built some friendships within North Metro on Saturday so I'll be sure pass on the compliments.

I never shared my photos from the March 2019 open house! Oops. Also as far as communication at this club I noticed a big rack of Midland walkies and headsets. Along with that are CCTV cameras that feed to a dispatcher's office providing that person with visual feedback on the areas prone to the heaviest traffic. In addition to that the club also has a computer display track schematic of the layout which the dispatcher can interact with.

I also learned that the club is running JMRI and PanelPro along with your typical Digitrax hardware, so phones and tablets can be used as throttles or virtual switch panels (which I think is awesome!)

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Rush City, MN

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Staples, MN

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Northstar commuter shops, Big Lake, MN

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Northtown yard, Minneapolis, MN
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Northtown diesel shops

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Northern States Power, Becker, MN

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Outskirts of Big Lake

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Brainerd, MN
 

dmirguy

Member
Very nice! And not too far from home. I see they have an open house coming up on 4/27, I think I'll swing by if we're not covered by yet another blanket of curse curse snow.

Do they have any Yellowstones?
 

montanan

Whiskey Merchant
I don't know is there are any for sale, but one member does run a Yellowstone on the club layout. The items for sale ae in the main depot and the club is in the basement below the wine shop just west of the main depot.

 

dmirguy

Member
Ahhh, Thank you. I'm afraid my buying days are behind me now, I was just interested in seeing one running. I have an old Akane, but it's hard to run on my home layout because some of the curves are 22 in rad. Great video!
 

montanan

Whiskey Merchant
I have one in brass that I picked up over 25 years ago and painted for the Northern Pacific. Ran it at the club one time. Pulled like nobodys business on the grades at the club. I can run it on my home layout which I do on rare occasions just to keep the lubricants from hardening up, but my turntables are too short for it.
 

DakotaLove39

Always Improvising
Very nice! And not too far from home. I see they have an open house coming up on 4/27, I think I'll swing by if we're not covered by yet another blanket of curse curse snow.
Do they have any Yellowstones?
AFAIK no one there does. Some fellows have a few DM&IR pieces, but the Missabe presence is surprisingly small for having big ol' DULUTH on the layout. One guy does have an ad-hoc Yellowstone in the form of some other kind of big articulated. My buddy John also has this NP girl:
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I'd love a Yellowstone myself, they're just hard to come by. I know of one guy in the Twin Cities area who has one, but he belongs to the Newport club and it doesn't get used much. Maybe I ought to poke him to visit North Metro or my club sometime with that beast.

I don't know is there are any for sale, but one member does run a Yellowstone on the club layout. The items for sale ae in the main depot and the club is in the basement below the wine shop just west of the main depot.
Chet, I think you're a tad lost...
 

Rico

BN Modeller
Nice to see some BN action with my morning coffee, thanx for posting Steve!
Also nice that you got to run too!
 

DakotaLove39

Always Improvising
Nice to see some BN action with my morning coffee, thanx for posting Steve!
Sure!
Also nice that you got to run too!
Better yet they want me to come back on the 27th of this month to run during another open house event. This time I will be bringing my "home road" Milwaukee power and maybe some modern UP. Hopefully I can capture some BN/MILW meetups!
 

DakotaLove39

Always Improvising
It's official! I'm now a member of this club and very excited about it. Yesterday I was called up to proof some of my equipment on the layout for the upcoming Saturday open house, meaning I had to run my selected trains five times around the layout to make sure they wouldn't have a problem. I had to weed out a few cars, but overall it was a success.

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My MILW road power idling in Northtown yard during setup.

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Later on in the day, #6005 and its pals lead a mixed freight through Brainerd, MN

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My train was put to the test on the layout's primary branch line. Most of this track is out of sight under the layout, but features this spectacular sight. (Hate to say this bridge isn't a real feature in MN and was done for fun.)

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MY BNSF power idling in Staples, MN

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DM&IR 508 with a mixed freight train on the Hinckley sub.
 

montanan

Whiskey Merchant
Congrats on being accepted into the club. Thumb up.gif They really have an exceptional layout. Enjoy!

I had undergone a bit of scrutiny before I was accepted into my club. It didn't take very long as all of my locomotives and freight equipment (most which is weathered) ran flawlessly. I am anal about my Kadee couplers as I do use magnets at home on my layout.

There are only 6 members in the club, including me and I really enjoy the members. No politics. There's not a large population in the area therefore not a lot of train modelers. I sure wish we had some sort of communications such as radios. The layout is in three rooms and as of now, it is a matter of hollering. Being that there aren't many members, money is a bit tight.

I like your Milwaukee Road equipment. The Milwaukee Road is one of the two railroads that operated in this area but no one in the club is operating any of their locomotives. I managed to pick up this BLI SD-9 from a friend on the forum which I will run at the club. I do have other Milwaukee Road locomotives at home, but the are DC which is which I run at home.

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I grew up with relatives working on the Milwaukee Road and spent many hours riding with them when I was a kid. Many HAPPY hours.

Hope you will post more photos of the club layout and maybe get a hold of a cab ride video of the layout.

Most of the equipment run at the club is BNSF, Montana Rail Link (Livingston is where the MRL shops are located) and Northern Pacific.

We are having the annual train show in the main Northern Pacific depot next weekend and the club will be open to the public and I have received a number of phone call wanting to know if I can make it. (I just had shoulder replacement surgery). I WILL make it. The club is open to the public when the layout is in operation. It is open on Saturday evening year round and during the summer, there is also an afternoon session on Thursdays. Unfortunately, for me it is a 50 mile trip one way over Bozeman pass which can be miserable in the winter. I also don't care to drive it at night. I'll be glad when the summer sessions begin.
 
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