Around the Bend: Gauge 1 Live Steam Railroad

Plans are under way for the addition of a Gauge 1 Live Steam Railroad that will usher in a new era for railways at Auburn Heights (joining the Auburn Valley Railroad, established in 1960). In fact, trains have been part of the Auburn Heights landscape for nearly a century (or more)! From the 1930s Lionel model trains of Tom Marshall’s childhood to the live steamers assembled by Clarence Marshall in the 1940s to the 1/8-size coal-fired engines (circa 1960 & 1961) that still pull cars filled with happy passengers today, railroads enthralled the Marshall family.

With no other Gauge 1 track within a 30-mile radius, the new Yorklyn Valley Railroad will offer live steam enthusiasts throughout the tristate region a welcome location to run their locomotives and trains as well as create a unique attraction for the Marshall Steam Museum’s signature Steamin’ Days. Educationally, the opportunities for the new railroad are endless, from summer camps to scouting programs to school groups. A chance to work on the layout will also provide increased volunteer opportunities for railroad devotees, from teens to adults.

What’s needed to make it happen?

The first hurdle has been crossed, with the Friends of Auburn Heights identifying a site and obtaining permission from Delaware State Parks to build a layout within the secured property on the former Marshall estate.

Hurdle #2 involves raising $35,000 to cover Phase 1 of the construction costs to get things up and running. This includes base construction materials, with all labor to be provided by volunteers (and we’ll need hands-on help when the time comes!). To jumpstart the fundraising effort, a generous donor has issued a challenge, agreeing to match (dollar for dollar) the first $5,000 raised!

What can I do to help?

You can be a founding supporter of this exciting project — make a tax-deductible donation now and your dollars are doubled! 

To contribute, you can:

  • Mail a check (payable to Friends of Auburn Heights, with Gauge 1 in the memo line) to P.O. Box 61, Yorklyn DE 19736; or
  • Call the FAH office with your credit card; or
  • Contribute online using the secure checkout below
How can I learn more?
  • All are invited to attend a very special meeting at 2:00 pm on Saturday, February 12 (25th anniversary of the meeting called by founder Tom Marshall in 1997 that marked the birth of the Marshall Steam Team) to meet the team, learn about current plans and provide input into this exciting endeavor. Attendees will be entered in a raffle to win a new PIKO Reading (#38851) Steel Box Car — must be present to win so mark your calendar and join us.
    Register here to attend this meeting. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. 
  • Visit us on Train Day, Sunday, May 1, where we will kickoff the Gauge 1 campaign. Learn about the new layout planned for Auburn Heights and see Gauge 1 trains in action! Other event features include:
    • Rides aboard the Auburn Valley Railroad (1/8th-scale coal-fired and diesel trains)
    • Guest exhibitors with 1/8th-scale locomotives, rolling stock and attractions
    • Operating 1930s Lionel model trains
    • Special railroad exhibits inside the Marshall Steam Museum
    • Free steam-popped popcorn
    • Kids activities & much more!
  • Check out this article by Charlie Zimmerman, shared with permission from Live Steam & Outdoor Railroading (beautiful magazine and well worth the subscription!): Steam Heaven in Delaware

Have further questions?

CLICK HERE to read our FAQ for more details.

Stay Informed

CLICK HERE to sign up for updates on the Gauge 1 Yorklyn Valley Railroad and stay informed about our progress (no spam, we promise!).

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