Operating Groups

Our great hobby of model railroading provides the opportunity to allow us to use our vision to be creative, use carpentry skills, electrical skills, model building skills, and develop scenery. Another opportunity that we can benefit from is the friendships and helpful assistance from fellow model train lovers. The NMRA is the association that helps bring all this together. The Piedmont Division has monthly meetings and clinics that provides a place to interact and expand friendships, but we encourage out members to form Operating Groups.

Operating Groups are smaller groups of people (frequently 8-15 people) that help each other with constructing their respective layouts and participating in operating sessions. These smaller groups provide you with the ability to develop closer friends and a camaraderie that generally are not available in the larger group setting. We have listed below Operating Groups in our area.

We also encourage you to form your own operating group. This can be with individuals in a close geographical area or just putting out a notice that you want to form a new group. Some of the groups listed below may have a full compliment of members others may still be looking for members. We encourage you to join or form an operating group, you may find you will enjoy the model railroad hobby more than you do now.

Atlanta Interlocking Model Railroaders

We are an HO Club, Membership is kept at about 10 - 12 members. We do not have regular meetings, dues or officers. We attempt to reach a consensus on club matters. To be a member, one must construct a minimum of 10 feet of modules. Members are expected to take part in setting up, operating and breaking down for shows.

We participate an the Great Train Expo Shows. We have set up layouts as fund-raisers for Smoke Rise Baptist ( with North Georgia Modurail), Snellville Baptist and Wesley Chapel United Methodist Churches. Our members have also shown layouts at the Wrecking Crew Show in Birmingham, SER Convention in Montgomery and the NER Convention in Parsippany, NJ.

Contact: Charlie Crawford

Intown Operators Group

The Intown Operators Group was started in 2008 by Crew Heimer and Tom Gordon to help develop the layouts and operating skills of modellers who actually live ‘Inside The Perimeter’.  Our membership is open to all scales, and you don’t have to have a layout to be a member (you just have to wish you did!).  We operate, of course, but we also get together to help members build, plan, and in some cases, clean up!

The IOG presently has 17 full members, two associate members and one we really aren’t sure about.  There are eight operating layouts, two others are under construction, and five are in planning.  Meetings are ad-hoc but usually monthly, and membership is open to everyone who lives in or near the City of Atlanta.

There are presently no dues, no offices and almost no discipline. The only requirement is that when a member hosts an operating session, he or she must supply the crowd with a bag of Oreo Double-Stuft cookies.  We don’t really know how this came to be, but them’s the rules. 

If you are interested in joining, you can contact any one of our members, or email doug_alexander@bellsouth.net.

Many of our members’ layouts have been on the Pilgrimage:

Joint Railway Association of Georgia (JRAG)

The Joint Railway Association of Georgia (JRAG) is a group of model railroaders dedicated to Prototype Model Railroad Operation. We are a loosely knit Round Robin operating group. We have been meeting almost every Friday evening since 1981 operating one of the layouts in the group. We currently have 8 operating railroads in the schedule. We operate in a professional manner but we also think operation should be FUN!

If you are interested in Model Railroad Operations based on prototype practices, contact Norm Stenzel stenzeln@mindspring.com for more information, we would be happy to have you join us for a session. Find out more about us at our website, http://dixierail.com/.


North Atlanta Rail Barons

This operating group was started by Howard Goodwin to accommodate the model railroaders on the northwest side of Atlanta in an effort to assist those who are building or starting home layouts, to teach the skills it necessitates and to be a source of fellowship, support base and encouragement to those in the group. In the nine years since it's creation, one of the most important accomplishments has been the fellowship derived from participation in the group. Our group currently numbers 19 and we are a 100% NMRA Club, one of only two in the Division.

Currently there are18 home layouts in varying stages of completion. Nine of our layouts are currently capable of having operations with a tenth starting by the end of this year. All of the layouts have trains running to some degree, but progress is continual on all the layouts. All the layouts are currently using some form of DCC (Digital Command Control), Digitrax, Lenz and NCE, although the vast majority are using Digitrax DCC. While we were not anticipating adding any new members when there were only eight of us in the group, our numbers have more than doubled since the group was chartered in 2005.

We are dedicated to promoting the hobby of model railroading in addition to our above stated goals and to that end are involved in a project called "Model Railroad Magic" where we construct 4' X 4' layouts to display and donate to worthwhile children's organizations in the Atlanta area.

If you reside in the Cobb, Cherokee and Paulding county area and would like information on our operating group, you can contact Howard Goodwin at horn69@bellsouth.net. For further information, please visit our new website at www.NorthAtlantaRailBarons.com.

North County Interchange

The North County Interchange is about operating model train layouts. But since you have to have a layout first, we are also about building layouts. The Atlanta area is swarming with model railroaders, but there are only a limited number of operating groups in the area. It is our goal to form a regularly meeting operating group with layouts being constructed along the I-85/I-985 corridor.

There are not rules. There are no dues. There are no officers, by-laws, or regulations. We are friends, first and foremost and the guy hosting the meeting is the boss. If you are interested in this group, contact Paul Rankin.

Southern Crescent Operating Group (S-COG)

S-COG serves modelers living South of I-20. There are no formal rules or requirements for membership. We meet once at least monthly for operating sessions, usually on Joe Gelmini's Georgia Great Southern. Contact: Joe Gelmini

The Boomers

Serving the far NE portion of the Piedmont division, the Boomers are a group of modelers who gather for operating sessions several times each quarter. We have layouts (all Digitrax) and members in an area that roughly forms a triangle from Gwinnett County to Athens to Commerce.

We have no formal rules and no dues. It's not necessary to have a layout to participate, only the desire to come enjoy running trains. Although we try to operate like the prototypes, our operating sessions usually break down into three hours of laughter and ribbing each other. No problem if you don't have a lot of railroad knowledge--several in our group are former railroad employees and will show new operators the ropes.

If you would like to come and join us, or would like more information, email John Rieken at jrieken@windstream.net .