The History & Current Events of the Milwaukee & Northern Railway Historical Society

also known as the Neenah-Menasha Model Railroad Club

The Milwaukee and Northern Railway Historical Society (MNRHS) was founded in 1964, to perpetuate and share the history of one of Eastern Wisconsin’s and Upper Michigan’s historic railroads.

Housed in the Milwaukee & Northern’s 1882 Neenah, Wis., depot, it includes the Neenah-Menasha Model Railroad Club (NMMRRC).

The Club models the Milwaukee & Northern in O Scale, primarily the Menasha Branch.

The Menasha Branch, which runs from Hilbert Junction, Wis., to Menasha, Wis., was completed in 1872. The branch was extended to Appleton in 1880 and Neenah in 1881.

The scene near the M&N Menasha depot at the Milwaukee & Northern Railway Historical Society (a.k.a. the Neenah-Menasha Model Railroad Club). Photograph by Rich Hopfensperger, a member of the MNRHS, on 9 December 2019.

A newspaper article from the 9 December 1982 Janesville Gazette regarding the Milwaukee & Northern Railway Historical Society (MNRHS), a.k.a. the Neenah-Menasha Model Railroad Club (NMMRRC) open house which was held on 8 December 1982. Larry Easton (1934-2019) was a founding member of the MNRHS.

The newspaper article at left relates to the open house which we had hosted on 8 December 1982. This was the first time that the general public was invited to come in and discover what we are about. Previous open houses were hosted for members of other model railroad clubs.

Wally recently reminisced about that 1982 open house: “Yeah, I remember that. It was the first time the club opened the doors to the general public. Larry had researched and found that our building was reaching its 100th birthday and we decided to celebrate that with the open house. It was on a regular meeting night and I didn’t know about all the publicity that we had received on it. I drove down to the club with my toolbox in the truck, figuring I could work on whatever project and maybe there would be a few extra folks visiting to see what we were all about. I had to park about a block and a half away, left my tool box in the truck, and when I reached the depot, there was a line of people waiting to get inside! The place was packed. This was before we had built the part of the pike that now fills the middle of the baggage room, so that area was filled with attendees as well.”

Wally adds: “We have had many open house events since then, usually on a weekend over two full days, which spreads the crowd out so that we are more able to greet and talk with the people. Over the years we have seen many old friends returning to check on our progress as well as lots of new faces seeing our railroad for the first time. One of my favorite parts is witnessing the wonder in a child’s eyes when he or she sees our miniature world. Or when an older kid exclaims “Gramma, Grampa, the trains run RIGHT through the BATHROOM!!”

A scene from the annual open house of the Milwaukee & Northern Railway Historical Society (MNRHS), a.k.a. the Neenah-Menasha Model Railroad Club, on 15 December 2019. Photograph by Tom Bruss.

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