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About Jersey Central N-Trak
N-trak began when Ben Davis, of Huntington Beach, California, thought it up in 1973. Ben belonged to the Belmont Shores Model Railroad Club, which has a large permanent layout. Ben wanted to figure out a way to show N scale to the model railroaders attending the 1974 convention in San Diego. With the help of some fellow club members, Ben built the first Ntrak module a year before the convention. Others followed and the modular layout, with its 50- to 100-car trains, was an immediate hit. The idea took off, and Ntrak modules were being built all over the country.
Ben coordinated the N-trak effort and published the N-rak Newsletter until 1977. Ben then stepped down and Jim FitzGerald took over as Ntrak coordinator. If you want to get started in N-trak, and live in central New Jersey, there is a club in your area, You can contact club president Douglas Kaufman by e-mail (see below) or phone (see above). Many people feel the current popularity of N scale in particular, and model railroading in general, is due in large part to the efforts of the thousands of modelers involved in N-trak. Before modular railroading took off, model railroading was a closed hobby. If you were interested in model trains, you had to seek out information and other modelers. Your neighbor could be a model railroader and you would never know it until, and unless, you were invited into his house to see the layout.
And while model trains have always been popular during the holidays, stores owners and train show promoters had to be content with small, stand-alone layouts as attractions. The development of N-trak meant they could have large, operating, and portable display that could be set up and taken down within a few hours. Shoppping malls and N-trak seem to go hand in hand, and mall managers, constantly on the lookout for ways of enticing shoppers to come out to the mall, find modular layouts irresistible. N-trak clubs like the fact that mall means lot of people see the trains (what's the point of modular railroading if no one sees your efforts?) and the space for setup is usually ideal, with wide aisle areas and good lighting. Some N-trak clubs get space for setups provided free of charge, provided they run trains for a few hours while the stores are open.
Best of all, Ntrak brings the hobby of model railroading to a whole group of people. Men, women, and children who may have never heard of model railroading see and N-trak layout, get hooked, and become model railroaders themselves. And the more model railroaders there are the better is gets for all of us.