History of the First Coast Model Railroad Society


In 1993, after ten years of commuting 45 minutes each way from Ponte Vedra Beach to the North Florida Model Railroad Club in Orange Park at Moose Haven, Rich Paul decided to see if there was any interest in forming a club at the Jacksonville Beaches area. Rich went to Dave Henk at the Hobby Oasis hobby shop, then in Neptune Beach, and discussed the possibility of a club at the beaches. Dave was also a member of the North Florida Model Railroad Club and tired of the bureaucracy at the club. They decided to see what interest there was and Rich & Dave posted a notice in the store. As the Hobby Oasis carried a good inventory of model trains, local model railroaders frequented the store often, and with in a week there were 28 names of interested persons.

First meeting was held at the Jacksonville Beach branch library on Tuesday, February 9th, 1993 at 7:00 p.m. Meetings continued on a first and third Tuesday monthly schedule at the library. In April, we started a rotating layout visit on the third Tuesday.

Club colors of red and yellow and logo design were adopted in August ,1993.

October 2nd 1993 the members joined with several members of the North Florida Model Railroad club (Orange Park Moosehaven) to travel to Lake City and view Dave Housman’s 90’ X 40’ HO scale layout with a southwestern theme.

October 26th,1993 the club started working on building a modular layout. Work was done at Alan Mcleods home over the next several months.


March 8th,1994 first officers were elected:

Alan McLeod
Rich Paul
Dave Henk
Bill Voyles

Dues were set at $3.00 per month.

On March 12,1994 the club displayed a select portion of the new modules at the Beaches Area Historical Society’s Pablo Historical Park Community Celebration.

On April 23rd and 24th, 1994 the club setup and displayed it’s new modular layout at the Jacksonville Fairgrounds for River City Kids Day. This was the first time we had the full layout exhibited. It was estimated that approximately 120,000 persons attended the two day event.

In May 1994, the club setup and exhibited it’s full layout in the lobby of the CSX building during Heritage Days in Jacksonville. The theme that year was “Salute to the Military”. Upon completion of the display at Heritage Days, the layout was setup on a more or less permanent setup in an empty store front next to the original Hobby Oasis location at the K-Mart shopping center in Neptune Beach. Power was provided by a single extension cord run over the wall separating the club space from Hobby Oasis, but the rent was free!

The layout was on the layout tour for the National Model Railroad’s Sunshine Region convention held May 13th, 14th, and 15th at the then Marina St. Johns Hotel on the river in Jacksonville.

In September 1994 we were invited to setup a display in the Beaches Branch library display cases for the months of September and October.

Meetings continued at the Beaches Branch library on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month.

In November 1994, our regular meeting was held at the layout instead of the Library as we were getting ready to host our first open house for two weekends in December. Work included installing backdrop panels and Plexiglas shields along the front edge.

In preparation for the open house weekends, we applied for our own electrical service for the storefront location on November 30th 1994.

In December 1994, Dave Henk started publishing a monthly newsletter. In the first issue he highlighted the upcoming Open House events, and announced a free buy and sell ad space called the “Rip Track”. He also announced that Bill Voyles of Hobby Oasis was starting a 10% discount for members of the Beaches Model Railroad Club as well as the Cypress Village Model Railroad Club. The issue also included a formal Application for membership to gather data for the membership database.

© FCMRS 2021