The August/September 2009 issue of O Gauge Railroading magazine featured an article about the Foley Alabama Railroad Museum and the Caboose Club, volunteers who maintain and operate the 20 x 60 foot O-gauge layout.
The Caboose Club had been around for a while, providing a once-a-week informal forum for rail fans to sit around and talk about railroads. They met in the restored 1905-vintage L & N depot in the heart of Foley. The railroad had left town years earlier when it was no longer needed to transport farm goods to big city markets. Then in August 2005, Montgomery, Alabama, resident Alan Goldman offered the city his 1,200 square foot, beautifully detailed layout with the proviso they get it out of his house in three days, construct a place to display and operate a new layout, and keep it open to the public at no charge for admittance.
The Caboose Club volunteers plus a few city employees removed the layout and trains, and placed them in temporary storage until the city completed a 3,200 square foot addition on the north end of the old depot. The building was complete in January 2006, and a few days later they began constructing the new 20 x 60 foot layout with a comfortable 7 x 45 foot raised viewing area. The layout, including many operating accessories and beautiful mountainous background scenery, was completed in January 2007, and opened to the public soon afterwards.
There are four main lines that traverse the layout, and climb grades to run along the mountains at the rear of the layout. They usually operate these as two double-tracked main lines, each with a freight and a passenger train operating in opposite directions. In addition there is an industrial track that runs in a dog bone pattern from one end of the layout to the other and along the base of the mountains at the rear of the layout. This track services a sawmill with mill pond and a coal mine on one end, and a city scene with manufacturing facilities on the other. The city is serviced by a trolley line that carries passengers from one end of the town to the other, including stopping at the passenger depot with its scratch-built train shed reminiscent of the one that used to be at Nashville. The city park, laid out similar to Bienville Square in Mobile, includes an operating N-scale “park train.”
The layout models the 1940s through 1950s, as railroads were transitioning from steam locomotives to diesels, and rolling stock includes many beautiful streamlined passenger trains of that era. Some of the structures and accessories were part of the Goldman donation, but others were built by members of the Caboose Club. One of the donated structures is a highly detailed model of a refinery based in Utah. As you visit the Foley Railroad Museum, see if you can spot the alcohol still, the bear that has treed a “revenuer,” men painting a bridge some 100 feet up above the fishing camp, an operating machine shop, a fire station and a large fire in progress, a car wash, service station, drive-in-restaurant and drive-in movie theatre, and a circus. Kids of all ages delight in seeing