A 50th Anniversary Letter from Ron Peisker

THE ILLINOIS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY MODEL RAILROAD CLUB
1948 - 1998

The ITMR was started by an enthusiastic group of students in 1948. At that time, the students at IIT were a different group. Many were veterans of WW II, or soon would be involved in the Korean War. These students did not have all the distractions of the 1990's. Railroads were still supreme in the transportation business and Chicago, being the hub, was hosting the "Railroad Fair" on the lake front at 22nd St..

Conditions were ideal for forming a model railroad club. One of the students who helped find a place for the club was Frank Schubert, whose dad was the Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds. The IIT campus in those days had only a few "Mies Boxes" and most buildings dated from the 1890's. The biggest space available was the attic of Main Building. The group persuaded the Drafting Department Chairman H. C. Spencer to be faculty sponsor. Professor Spencer knew nothing about model railroading; he let the club do its own thing without interference.

The club had several civil engineering majors who had done their practice surveying at IIT's Camp Armour in the north woods of Wisconsin. When the attic space was cleaned and it became necessary to chose a theme for the layout, the north woods of Wisconsin, with all its little towns, was chosen. The "Camp Armour and Boulder Junction Railroad" was born!

Of those early members the four still on the club list are: Don Angerhofer, who was just out of high school (He was given seniority number one because the first seniority list was done by the alphabet.); Greg Austin, a veteran, who was an EE major and a CNW tower operator; Bob Guinter, a veteran, who spent a long time in Evening School getting his ME degree; and Ken Mortimer a CE major. We have lost track of the others who started the club.

In 1950, after the club had a successful two years of layout building, the peak of the roof above the club burned and the layout was destroyed by the water damage. Enthusiasm at the club was so high that they built a 5 x 10 portable layout while waiting for the space to be rebuilt.

Over the fifty years the club has existed they have built sever versions of the "Camp Armour and Boulder Junction Railroad", each better than the last.

In 1948 and throughout the 1950's the club consisted mainly of young men in their twenties who were day or evening students at IIT. As a student who started IIT in 1952, the club became my home away from home. Like most students then at IIT I did not want to join a fraternity and could not afford to live on campus, so the ITMR became my fraternity as it did for many ITMR members. Through the ITMR membership many of us found railroad jobs during the summer. Some of us made a career of full-size railroading, thanks to the ITMR.

Through the ITMR membership we made lifelong friends who share a common interest.

Starting in the 1950's, the club attracted many an avid model railroader, from hobby shop clerks to lawyers, who were not students at IIT. This mix of individuals, all sharing the same interests, has enriched the ITMR.

Most of us on the club list are no longer actively meeting in the attic of the Main Building every Friday to run the "Camp Armour and Boulder Junction Railroad". Instead, we meet twice year to renew old friendships and especially to talk about and look at what all of us joined the club for: Railroads.

On behalf of all those who were and are members of the ITMR, I wish to congratulate the club on 50 years of model railroading and wish it "full steam ahead" for the next 50 years.

Ron Peisker


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