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Model Railroad Club Builds Vintage Mon Valley

Annual holiday show welcomes young and old

By Sarah Turnbull
The Tube City Almanac
November 29, 2021
Posted in: Announcements, McKeesport and Region News

Scaled-down structure at the McKeesport Model Railroad Club was inspired by the city’s Jerome Avenue Bridge. The club is holding its annual open house Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 19. (Sarah Turnbull photo for Tube City Almanac)


Bob Balawajder of the McKeesport Model Railroad Club remembers when trains would pass through downtown McKeesport every day.

“I’ve been part of the club for 38 years. I’ve always been interested in trains. I used to go shopping downtown with my mother and we would watch the trains go by,” Balawajder said.

The club, located at 2209 Walnut St., kicked off its Holiday Open House Nov. 27. The open house features a 2,200-square-foot layout depicting the Mon Valley in the mid-20th century. Hours are 1 to 7 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 19.

The club’s HO-scale layout is inspired by scenes from throughout Western Pennsylvania. (Sarah Turnbull photo for Tube City Almanac)


Club member Deane Mellander has been around trains all his life, and hopes that the open house will help the public to see model trains as a serious hobby.

“I’ve been working with model trains for 65 years. I played with toy trains as a kid, and I gradually moved up to scale-style trains,” Mellander said.

A resident of Washington, D.C., Mellander joined the club 10 years ago after buying a house in McKeesport.

“My wife grew up in McKeesport, and we bought her dad’s old house,” Mellander said. “We come up here often.”

Logan Werner became a junior member last year. The 8-year-old has been interested in model trains “since he was two or three.”

The club will be open to the public Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 19. To learn more, visit the McKeesport Model Railroad Club online or call (412) 664-5626.

(Sarah Turnbull photo for Tube City Almanac)


Sarah Turnbull is a freelance writer in Irwin. She can be reached at sarahturnbull323@gmail.com.

Originally published November 29, 2021.

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