The Prairie State Railroad Club is comprised of railroad enthusiasts who share a passion for the building and operation of large scale model railroad equipment. Model railroads come in many different scales (the relative size of the model compared to a full-size or prototype). Ours is 1/8" or 1-1/2″ scale, meaning that on average, the locomotives and other railroad cars are 1/8″ the size of the real thing. The gauge (distance between the rails) of our track is 7-1/2″ gauge, which makes it possible for the engineer to actually ride his train and perhaps even carry a few passengers.
Modeling in this general size, is generically referred to as “live steam railroading” because it is practical size to build models of steam locomotives that actually use steam for propulsion and are large enough for the engineer to ride on as well. Besides steam locomotive operators, the “live steam” hobby now includes persons who favor diesel locomotives (usually gasoline or battery powered) or electric railway cars such as interurbans. At Prairie State Railroad Club, we welcome them all! In fact, you do not need to own any equipment to participate in the club’s activities.
The operation of these scale model trains is solely for the enjoyment of their owners and guests and is not to be confused with miniature railroads that are sometimes found at amusement parks or zoos. The railroads at those venues are considerably larger and are designed specifically to haul large numbers of passengers. For that reason the club does not accommodate the general public with the exception of a few events that are conducted under the auspices of others organizations.