History of our Club
The Naptown & White River Model Railroad Club began in July 1966 as the Miami Valley RR Club. The Miami met at a member's home at 2033 Dudley Avenue, not far from our current location. (This is still a private residence, please don't go looking for it) The Miami was in 1967 the Central Indiana Division's first 100% NMRA club.
In 1970, the MVRR moved into the B&O freight house located downtown on Virginia Avenue next to the Conrail mainline. The club was renamed at that time.
In 1979, the Chessie System closed the old B&O freight house, and the search was on for a new permanent club location. The NWR existed only as a round-robin group until it relocated to 1115 McDougal Street on the near Southside of Indianapolis in 1983
The current club building was a garage for late member Joesph Marmon (Of the Marmon family well known for the Marmon Wasp) upon his death, the building was donated to the club who owns the space and property outright.
Most model railroad clubs construct their layouts in rented or borrowed space. Consequently, they must live with a bit of "uncertainty" about their future. Being subject to the landlord-tenant relationship leaves open the possibility of an unanticipated move. The landlord raises the rent, or sells the property and all those hours of work spent constructing the model railroad empire are for naught -- the club must dismantle the layout and seek out a new home. As owners of the building, the Naptown & White River MRR Club has the luxury of "staying power". The layout is constructed without worries of having to move at the end of the lease. The result is a more substantial, robust layout, built over a period of many years, and likely to continue for many years to come.
Biography of a Railroad
The Naptown and White River layout is a loose, artistically licensed representation of railroading in Indiana. To trace its roots, we must start in 1836 when the Indiana General Assembly authorized plans to build a network of railroads connecting the State Capitol in the middle of Indiana to outlying communities, and especially to ports of river and canal traffic. This plan set into motion a slew of railroads, all vying for a piece of State money and recognition. While smaller lines opened between the first two or three communities on a few of these fledgling upstarts, it would take nearly 12 years before rails finally connected Indianapolis. Many attempts over those twelve years had gone bankrupt and been reorganized; sold to another party in hopes that combined they could get to somewhere, or simply died in the middle of nowhere, with little more than graded roadbed to show for their efforts. Most of those that succeeded did so with crippling debt, and were unable to weather downturns in the market. The 1850s were a time of prosperity for these fledgling railroads, but the 1860s brought a downturn in the market. The rampant and unchecked spending by the Assembly for all of Indiana's new infrastructure, and the impact of the Civil War indirectly lead to a new round of bankruptcies and foreclosures over the next 30 years for debt-laden
railroads, precipitating a new round of buy-outs and mergers. This is how many of the major Class 1s like the Pennsy and the New York Central would make their presence in Indiana; it is joked that the Pennsy never laid a single stick of new rail outside the state of Pennsylvania; they simply bought their way west.
This, is the story of the Naptown and White River: a merging of small, bankrupt, struggling railroads into a wide reaching web of rails; the physical embodiment of the original 1836 charter laid out nearly 60 years prior. A 1970s brochure published by the club lists the NWR as connecting "Evansville, Fort Wayne, Rockdale and Kentland) Thus If we draw on History and that pamphlet, the NWR was likely formed from the Evansville, Indianapolis, and Terre Haute, the Indianapolis and Vincennes, the Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and Lafayette Railway, and some combination of routes towards Fort Wayne (no direct connection exists, oddly). At the heart of it all is the Indianapolis Union Railway, formed as an agent to all roads serving Indiana.
Though lacking access to major terminals on the the ends of its lines, the NWR would serve well in its role of connecting the heart of the state to its periphery. Traffic flowed regularly into, out of, and especially between the Hoosier Industries the railroad served. Major commodities were Coal and Grain, later also Steel and manufacturing as the Industrial Revolution took hold in Indianapolis and Fort Wayne.
Our Layout is very loosely freelanced from Indiana Railroading practices. Although none of our towns depict real-life locations, many of them draw or drew inspiration from real locales. Our layout roughly follows the SouthWestern leg of the railroad between Indianapolis and Evansville, with East Bend roughly approximating the end of the line, and the Southeastern leg between Indianapolis and Cincinnati, with LaSalle drawing from the evolution of the CIND in Greensburg.
For more about our layout, click here