Silicon Valley Lines: Club History

1979-1999: The Modular Years

SVL was formed in February 1979 as a modular club. In 1984, SVL acquired four commercial coaches and began to build a layout in the 1600 square foot space. In 1991, the club integrated the SVL modules into a two-level permanent layout.


Former Layout

We were really looking forward to hosting operating sessions and open houses for the 2000 NMRA Convention in San Jose, but that didn’t come to fruition. On May 31st, 1999 our previous layout was disassembled because we could not renew our ground lease for the trailers.

Having to tear down a model railroad layout can be quite a harrowing experience, and this was no exception at SVL. At one point in mid 2000, membership dwindled to only eight active members— and we didn’t have much fun.

We had a couple of serious sit down meetings to decide what we were going to do, and finally agreed that we all enjoyed SVL so much, we couldn’t let become yet another fallen flag.

Thankfully, we were able to salvage a few of the newer modules, and structures for a future endeavor.

Here are some photos of the old layout:

1999-2000: Starting Over

Lucky for the club, we were able to obtain new layout space (from our existing landlord) in downtown San Jose. This allowed us to store the remains of the old layout, and gave us a place to meet and discuss the future.

By late 1999, we had a small modular layout, and a large amount of boxes in about 1,100 square feet of space— it was great to get back to running trains again, but the small loop we had didn’t seem to fill the needs for our operating desires.

SVL circa 2000

Around that time, having turned the corner, a few of the former members returned to the club, and some new folks also stumbled upon our web site and got hooked.

2000-Present: Back on Track

In late 2000, we made the tough decision to throw and/or give away large parts of the old layout in order to give us some more space to operate. It turns out that this was a blessing, not a curse.

Planning the new layout

We had a small open house in the Fall, and then decided to partner with some members who were willing to chip in some extra dues to help expand our layout space. We also started experimenting with new construction techniques, including the use of steel c-channel to support the layout (described elsewhere on the site).

We created a brand new layout plan— the one we’re now building and have not looked back.

The new layout begins to rise

By 2002, we got the mainline in place and we had our first operating session. We’re having lots of fun.

That is pretty much it for history, so head back to the home page for more information about SVL today.

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