The design of the EMRA's layout.
EMRA History Project
The Edmonton Model Railroad Association is a non-profit society dedicated to providing its members with the opportunity to build and display a large model railroad. Formed in 1946, the club has built layouts in several locations, including the CP Rail station in Old Strathcona, the South Edmonton Public Library, and the Edmonton Gardens.
In the fall of 1989, the sod was turned and construction started on the freight shed in Fort Edmonton Park. In late 1991, the shed was officially completed, and in early 1992, construction started on the current layout.
The freight shed is open for viewing every weekend during the summer, and we hold an open house each October. The EMRA meets in the shed every Tuesday from 8:00 on. Visitors and new members are always welcome. See the Calendar for specific activities.
In addition to building and operating the layout, the members also participate in other railroad-related activities such as railfan trips around Western Canada, attending or hosting model railroad conventions, or helping out with other shows.
The EMRA has a sister club in Australia, the Western Australia Model Railway Club, in Perth, Australia.
The layout we're building is based on an actual railroad that was surveyed and chartered in central British Columbia in 1896, but never built. It was to link Vernon and Castlegar by way of the Monashee Mountains. The layout represents what the club feels the railroad would have looked like in 1959 had it actually been built. This provides the opportunity for a mixture of steam and diesel locomotives, as well as regular passenger service.
The "real" railroad has approximately 135 miles of mainline trackage and a ruling grade of 2.2% between Monashee Summit and Castlegar. The railroad continues into the United States south of Castlegar, and also connects with the Canadian Pacific and Canadian National north of Vernon. This allows a variety of our members' favorite railroad equipment to appear, "passing through" on the Monashee Pacific.
The layout is a two-level "mushroom" design, allowing almost twice as much mainline running as would be possible on a single level. The drawing shows how the track and aisles on the lower level are located beneath the track on the upper aisle.
We've completed our mainline of 785 feet (12.94 scale miles), passing through 11 towns. We're still finishing scenery and upgrading trackwork. Three hidden ("staging") yards provide storage for trains heading to or coming from other parts of the railroad. The large yard at the north end of the building (and the railroad) is Vernon. From here, the model Monashee Pacific winds its way through 10 separate aisles, representing rolling hills, river valleys, and steep mountain terrain before arriving at Castlegar, our second-largest yard, on the lower level. Sky-colored view blocks enhance the feeling of distance. Most of the track is code 83 flexible track, with some handlaid track in special locations. The control system is Digitrax digital command control, with handheld radio controllers allowing an engineer to stay close to the train.
Visit our tours page for photos and video.
Edmonton Model Railroad Association
c/o Fort Edmonton Park
P.O. Box 2359
The Edmonton Model Railroad Association welcomes new members to help construct and operate the layout, or even just to socialize. If you are interested in joining the oldest model railroad club in the Edmonton area, please contact us:
Surplus donations welcome!
If you have any surplus model railroading equipment that would like to see a good home, please contact our surplus coordinator at We've helped out a lot of young modellers with inexpensive equipment, and the proceeds are welcome support for our layout construction efforts.
Most recent update: 2023 May 05
by Duncan H..
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