Frequently Asked Questions

Click on the question for the answer.

General Questions

I am a member / leader of a group, can we bring our group in for a private tour?

During the Holiday show season (Mid-November though Mid-January) we do host allow groups to visit us during non-show hours. To schedule a private tour send an email to to schedule the event.

We currently do not host groups outside the Holiday Show season.

Why are you not opened all the time?

The organization is run by volunteers.  Since many members are still working full time jobs, it would be difficult to be open on a full time schedule.

What do you do when you are closed for most of the year?

We are busy repairing all of our locomotives, taking inventory, doing some major house cleaning, build new structures  and many other things to make your visit an enjoyable one for you.

Is membership open the public?

Yes!  We are always looking to find new members who can bring their various skills and their love of trains to the museum.  More information about joining the museum can be found on our Membership page.

The Display

What scale is used for the layout?

The main display is HO scale or 1/87 of real life.

Is the Mon-Valley a real railroad?

No it is fictitious.  It is a combination  mostly of the Western Maryland and the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie railroads.

Why is the layout set to the early 1950s?

We chose the early fifties for a number of reasons.  First, during the post war economic boom railroads were at their busiest, transporting large numbers passengers and freight.  Also during this time, railroads were starting to make the transition from steam to diesel allowing us to run both.


How do you make the water?

Surprisingly, water does not look real when used for scale modeling (you need the dept to make it look real).  Water is simulated using a clear epoxy called Envirotex. Typically, this used for hard wood bar finishes.  Over the years, we have developed techniques to make rapids, waterfalls and currents.

How do you make the rock croppings?

We have a number of methods of crating the out croppings.

  1. Plaster molds – The simplest way is to use a plaster mold.  Once the plaster hardens, the mold is removed and the plaster is painted.
  2. Ceiling tiles – To get the striated look, drop ceiling tiles are scored and then snapped and stacked on top of each other
  3. Real rock – In some cases, we will use rock (slate) on the display.

How many trees are on the layout?

We estimate that there are between 250,000 to 300,000 trees.  Approximately 95% of those are made by hand.

How do you make the trees?

We have x different types of Trees:

  • “Puff-balls” — Details
  • Seedum — Details
  • Root — Details
  • Purchased — Details

Rolling Stock and Track

How many trains do you have?

Presently, we own just less than 250 diesel locomotives, and about 90 steam locomotives. Only about 50% of those numbers are in “running order” with DCC (Digital Command Control). The other 50% include new purchases, “spares”, and locos which are “shopped”.

The freight car fleet numbers around 1900 cars. Of these, probably 1200 are in operating condition… with the remainder being new purchases, items set aside for repair, or cars which must be built from kits and then custom painted for the Mon-Valley System.

Each item is maintained in an inventory database, which will soon be expanded to include the item’s maintenance record. The committee has also invested countless hours planning the size and diversity of the fleet… both for the fictitious Mon-Valley System’s fleet, and for the proper mix of cars from other railroads across the country.


How many feet of track are on the layout?

We have 6,500+ feet of track (we’re not even sure of the exact amount).  This includes the four main lines, sidings, yards and hidden track.  Most of the track is code 83, but some is code 100.