A Holiday Train Fantasy Land is hidden right here in Downtown Columbia

AMROC (the Associated Model Railroads of Columbia) is a toy train paradise. Fun for adults and children a like, the model trains at AMROC's headquarters will bring a jolly smile to any ones face.

Between the Finlay Park fountain and the Governor’s mansion on Lincoln St. is the Associated Model Railroads of Columbia (AMROC) and Columbia’s model railroading headquarters. An unassuming building in Arsenal Hill that holds multiple mini-worlds for all to enjoy.
The AMROC clubhouse opens up every Thursday at 7:30 PM, except for the first Thursday of the month when they hold business meetings.

When you enter the space you will be greeted by multiple large train layouts of varying scales and a group of people who are passionate about model railroading.

We asked Clark Gregory, from the train club, what a beginner hobbyist needs to know when putting up their first train set and then compiled this list.

  • Pick a scale.

    G-Scale Model Train
    Garden scale train running outside.

    -Model train sets are produced with a fairly standardized scale.
    G or Garden Scale trains are some of the largest trains in the hobby with a 1:22.5 scale ratio versus the real thing
    -G scale trains are usually weatherproof, allowing for a really cool backyard setup.
    -Model trains do get bigger (there are some scales that you can ride on!) but we are focusing on the common holiday train layout in this article.
    O scale model trains are one of the most popular scales. They are big enough to make a statement yet small enough to be set up around any Christmas tree.  O Scale trains are either 1:48 or 1:43.5 times the size of the real thing.-Some of the most popular O scale trains are produced by the Lionel company. The Lionel toy company has been producing model trains since 1900.
    -HO scale trains are about half the size than the O scale with a ratio of 1:87.
    -A hobbyist who works with HO scale trains tend to focus on the detail of their rolling stock, sometimes even down to the rivets in their locomotives.
    -N scale trains are very small at a 1:160 ratio. N scale models are great for someone who wants to set up a layout in a small space.
    *There are other scale options in the model railroading world but those listed above are by far the most common.

    Model Train
    N Scale model train… with finger for scale.
  • Model Railroading with kids.

    -Most quality model train sets can be expensive. Some steam and diesel engines can cost into the 100s of dollars and even a boxcar or other rolling stock can cost you 40 or 50 dollars.
    -It’s always important to secure your track and scenery to your layout. A young child can easily pull track apart, damage scenery, and break the trains themselves.
    – While model railroading is a great way to bond with children. It’s important to take proper precautions when working with the little ones so no one gets hurt.


Model trains have been a holiday tradition for both young and old for over a century. Building and operating a model train layout is a great hobby for the whole family.
If you find yourself with specific questions or just wanting to check out the trains at AMROC’s clubhouse you can find them at 1800 Lincoln St. just across from the Governor’s mansion on Thursday nights at 7:30.  If you already have some trains, the AMROC members will be more than happy to test them for you and offer advice.

Find out more about AMROC by clicking here.