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HISTORY

Group photo.
Wayne LeCompte, Scotty Frost, Charly Mikeska, Jim Bohot, Jim Williams, Mark Sanchez

The Brazos Valley Railroad Society (BVRS) was formed on February 23, 1993 and construction of 4-foot modular tables began at that time.   Two months later the first set of twelve tables was constructed and connected together.   By June 1993 the tracks were powered up and trains began to run.   The modeling theme of the layout was the Brazosport area.   At the time the modular tables were stored at members' homes and brought to meetings and assembled together to run trains.

In January 1994 the Club (BVRS) transported the layout to a Great American Train Show in Houston.   The Club layout won 2nd place in the show.

In March 1994 the Club layout was displayed at the Brazoria County Historical Museum in Angleton.

In June 1994 the Club moved into an empty store (former Barons Jewelry) in a shopping center in Lake Jackson.   The layout had its first home at 518 Plantation Blvd.   After three months of construction and repairs they had a grand opening on September 17, 1994.   The Club now had space for a museum too.

In September 2002 the Club moved to a different store unit the same shopping center in Lake Jackson, 452 Plantation Blvd.   In 2005 a duck under table was replaced with a walk through gate, and was dedicated to the memory of Richard "Sailor" Veatch, a club member that had passed away in 2003.   In 2006 the layout was converted from DC block control to digital computer control with three power districts.

In April 2007 the Club lost the use of the store in Lake Jackson and moved the layout and museum items into storage space provided by the Lions Club in Brazoria.   In September 2007 the Club began refurbishing the old library room in the Principal;s wing of the old elementary school in Brazoria.   The space is part of the Brazoria Heritage Foundation (BHF) facility on Smith Street in Brazoria.   The room renovation came to an end when new carpeting was installed and the Club began to move items from storage into the new space.

When the Club moved the layout tables from storage into the new space, during May 2008, the table legs were lengthened by 10" to raise the table height to an overall 41.5".   The table legs and frames were painted black before reassembly to the original 28'x12' size.   In November 2008 the layout size was increased when it was lengthened by two feet and widened by one foot.   The new table additions were added to provide clearance for a proposed wye at the east end of the Angleton yard scene.

The Club had its first public opening in the new space as part of the BHF Christmas Festival on December 6, 2008.

In January 2010 a track wye was added that provided connection for additional tables in the interior of the layout.   By the end of December 2010 a new control panel for the Angleton yard scene was finished.

In 2011 two tables in the middle of the layout were added with additional yard track.   The yard track switches were operable from both sides of the tables.   The Club began preparations for lengthening the layout by 8'.   In order to free up floor space in the train room furniture was moved out of the train room into a storage room next to the BHF library room.   This created a library room out of the storage room for The Club's collection of books, magazines and documents.

In 2012 five new tables (two 2' and three 4') were constructed to lengthen the layout by 8' and inserted into the layout.   A phone line was connected to the old crank phone and made functional.   A third wall-mounted air conditioner was added to the train room in September.   The Brazos River Bridge was rebuilt with bridge ties, new scale-appropriate girder sections and weathering.   Next to the Sweeny depot building new yard tracks were constructed on one of the new 4' tables and completed the end of the year. In 2013 the Brazoria depot scene was constructed on one of the new 4' tables next to the Brazos River Bridge scene.   This scene includes a passenger depot, some other railroad support buildings, the siding track behind the depot, In, two spur tracks were added, one to Clemens State Farm and the other to a livestock pen and on to Jefferson Lakes Sulfur Company site (not yet modeled).   The travelling circus scene was removed and stored.   The Clemens State Farm scene was relocated to one of the other new 4' tables and expanded to a total length of 8'.   A small rail yard was created for servicing the Clemens State Farm which, in 1955, produced agricultural products.   The electronics for the grade crossing signal at Sweeny was upgraded to be DCC-friendly, and two new grade crossing signals were added to the Brazoria scene.   A fishing pier and a bait shop were added on one bank of the Brazos River Scene.

—Jim Williams, Chief Engineer, February 2014.