In 2004, a small group of guys had the idea of starting an N scale model railroad club, using the new Free-mo standards that were first created by the HO modelers. The person who should receive credit for getting the club underway would be Elliot Barber. He started the “Inland Empire N-scale” group on Yahoo. Without that group, none of us would have connected. Elliot posted an invitation to join the Yahoo N-Scale group, and one by one several future members signed up. Steve Patterson led the way, followed by Jeff Butler and Bob Freitas and then Harold Riley and Stan Gomes.
After trading a lot of e-mails back and forth, Steve Patterson suggested we meet at Joey’s Barbecue in downtown Pomona. The first meeting was July 31, 2004, with Steve, Jeff, Bob and Robert Torres showing up for the meeting. Jeff and Bob came up with the name “Inland Pacific” for the railroad. At this meeting it was suggested that the era would be 1950’s to the present and the theme would be Southern California, with desert and orange groves. Discussions were held on the type of bench work to be used and forms of construction. You might say the first rail had been laid.
The group officially became a club over breakfast at the Plum Tree Restaurant in Montclair on July 18, 2005. We used the Inland Empire group as our communication tool. We agreed the club name would be N-Land Pacific and the railroad name would be Inland Pacific. The standards for such things as code 55 rail, low profile wheels, and Micro-Trains type couplers were all agreed on at this time, along with the previous discussed era and location. Ed Harrison, Harold Riley and Robert Torres came on board as members at this time. Robert Torres was responsible for creating the second Yahoo group, N-land Pacific.
Module building started in Ed Harrison’s garage, since he had the various power tools to make the job easier. Ed helped us with the basic bench work, then we took our modules home to do the track, wiring and scenery. We had many workshops at Ed’s garage as we built our first modules. At that point in time, except for joining a few modules together at Ed’s place, our various modules had not yet run as a complete layout.
Our first exposure to the public happened on October 7, 2006, when we set up our five modules at the Western Prototype Modelers meet at La Habra, California. Two other non-club members also added their N scale Free-moN modules to the layout, which gave us a point to point set up. The club was well received by the public that day, and although it was a lot of hard work, setting up, getting the trains running, then tearing down at the end of the day, this just inspired us to build more and better modules for shows in the future.
Since that first show, we have attended four more WPM shows in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010. The venue was changed for the shows in 2009 and 2010, and we set up our layout at the San Bernardino depot. We also have attended shows at the Anaheim, Redlands, Long Beach, Del Mar, Portland Oregon and Ontario along with being part of the layout tour for the NMRA convention in July 2008. We currently have nearly 80 modules in single and double track mainline configurations.
In February of 2010, a new resource for the club came into being, as members Bob Freitas and Jeff Butler leased an industrial building to be used for club workshops, module storage and as a place to have our recently completed club “Open House.” A second unit in the building next door to the first, was added in June rented by Steve Beals.
As our membership grows and we become more skilled as model builders. We look forward to future public exposure as sharing our creativity and modeling skills with the pubic and other follow modelers is what makes the time and work all worthwhile.
Acknowledgment – Thanks to Jeff Butler, Steve Patterson, Harold Riley, Stan Gomes and Bob Freitas for helping to recall the various highlights in the Inland Pacific’s early history.