After two years of planning, fundraising, and the interruption of a global pandemic, members of the Bethany Village Model Railroad Club realized their dream of replacing The Oaks’ lobby aquarium with a model railroad layout in March of 2022.
The vison began in 2019 when Oaks’ administrator Henry Lively expressed an interest in removing an aging aquarium and replacing it with a model train. Lowell Starling, then president of the Bethany Village Model Railroad Club, wanted to use member’s skills to provide a further benefit to Bethany Village in general and particularly to The Oaks’ residents, families and the associates who serve them.
“This was a great way for the train club members to share blessings with other Bethany Village residents,” says Lowell.
Jim Long, a non-resident Train club member and the platform manager for the club’s existing HO layout stepped forward and agreed to lead the work. Using donations from the Residents’ Council and Asbury Foundation, the project was fully funded.
Greg Dorie, owner of Knock on Woodwork in Mechanicsburg, donated supplies and labor to create the cabinetwork. Offsite, Jim Long, and other members of the club labored for some eight months to handcraft and construct all the buildings and scenery in a work room in the basement of the East apartments.
“Some things just work out the way they are supposed to,” says Lowell. “There were delays, but it is not a coincidence that on the day COVID restrictions began to ease, residents of the Oaks got to see their trains for the first time. It was perfect.”
This was just another special day among many at Bethany Village, notes Lowell: “My wife and I have lived all over the country in some dozen different communities, and we constantly marvel at what an amazing place Bethany Village is. Nowhere else that we have lived even remotely compares to the love, mutual sharing, and support we encounter here.”
The model train at The Oaks is the newest stop on the Bethany Village Line six-station line. The line also includes the Charlie McNutt Station, which stores 40-plus G gauge train cars, locomotives and has a work and repair area. Here’s your boarding pass and information about each location:
To read more about the Bethany Village Model Railroad Club, including how you can join, click here.