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  • Member since
    January, 2015
  • From: Duluth, MN
  • 203 posts
Posted by OT Dean on Monday, April 16, 2018 3:42 PM

I recently bought the back issues of Railroad Model Craftsman magazines containing articles by the late, great Paul E. Larson.  He had a huge file of professional quality photos and discussed his insights into real railroading as applied to our model railroads.  However, in the July, 1967, issue of RMC I found an article by the late Hal Cartens, editor and publisher, with the headline "Sabotage Hits NYSME Layout."  (Strangely, I'd had no idea about this until I built a library of RMC some years ago, as I'd seen no reference to the incident in Model Railroader at the time.)


The New York Society of Model Engineers had impressive model railroads in both HO and 17/64" O in their headquarters in the former waiting room of theLackawanna Railroad’s disused Passenger Terminal in Hoboken, NJ.  On the night of April 27, 1967, a vandal or vandals broke into the building and sabotaged the O scale model railroad.  The HO railroad and the extensive archives weren’t touched.  This person singled out the O scale layout, destroying the catenary system, which had taken five years to complete, plus extensive special trackwork of crossings, turnouts, and dozens of double slip-switches.  Strangely, no rolling stock was touched.


Is there anyone in the group who can shed any light on whether or not the perpetrator was ever caught?  This is the worst case of vandalism against a model railroad I’ve ever heard of, done by a truly sick individual.

  • Member since
    January, 2017
  • From: Southern Florida Gulf Coast
  • 1,900 posts
Posted by SeeYou190 on Monday, April 16, 2018 6:29 PM

I have never heard of this incident before.


Since it happened over 50 years ago, I doub t there is much knowledge about it to be found.


I would like to hear more about it also if anyone knows.




Happily modeling the STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD located in a world of plausible nonsense set in August, 1954.

  • Member since
    March, 2002
  • From: Milwaukee WI (Fox Point)
  • 9,363 posts
Posted by dknelson on Monday, April 16, 2018 6:40 PM

There was mention in MR but not a feature article.  

I remember that RMC article clearly and those photos, one of which was of the elderly guy who had spent years scratchbuilding the catenary holding part of it.  Every catenary mast was snapped in half.  All the work was ruined.  They also specially attacked complex handlaid trackwork. 

As I recall there WAS minor damage - scrached paint -- to some rolling stock when the destroyed scratchbuilt catenary fell on it, or when it was pushed over to get at the track work.  Yet one entire passenger train was rolled into a tunnel to prevent damage evidently.  It was all very odd.  I believe the electrical system was also attacked in such a way as to destroy it.

In a followup letter to the editor, one guy (not a member of the club) speculated that it was one or some HO members of the club who did this, and that he himself as an O gauger hated HO gaugers.  The response by Hal Carstens was that the HO members all stepped in to help with repairs and that there were some clear indications that it was an O scale member of the club who was the perp because of the specialized, unusual, and targeted nature of the vandalism.  It was clearly not just random kids, it was someone who really knew trains and knew that layout

Knowing it was likely a member and not an outsider -- that would really tear a group apart with mutual mistrust. 

After the RMC article there was another brief mention in MR that the club found that some valuable railroadiana (old interurban marker lights and a UP tailsign) was missing and presumed stolen.

I never read about anyone being apprehended.

Dave Nelson


  • Member since
    February, 2002
  • From: Reading, PA
  • 24,139 posts
Posted by rrinker on Monday, April 16, 2018 7:45 PM

 They're still a going concern, just in a different place. I visited there some 22-23 years ago. HO was being rebuilt, so little had scenery. The O side was amazing.



Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's


Visit my web site at for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

  • Member since
    May, 2017
  • 45 posts
Posted by xboxtravis7992 on Monday, April 16, 2018 10:29 PM

As previously mentioned, it sounds like it was a club member. Now what would cause someone to be so spitefull to strike out at such a beautiful layout? Probably lost in the sands of time the logic behind that attack. But no doubt it was some personal vendetta of a club member versus another club member.

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