Milwaukee’s Model Railroad Club: A Tiny Hidden Gem Under the Tracks

Tucked under an active rail line in Walker’s Point is a tiny gem that’s been capturing the imaginations of Milwaukeeans for decades.

Photo from Historic Milwaukee

Visiting the Model Railroad Club of Milwaukee is an experience that feels both like stepping back in time and discovering a secret world.

A Rich History

Founded in 1936, this club is a gathering of model train enthusiasts and a living piece of Milwaukee’s heritage.

It has operated out of the concrete building at 215 E. National Ave. since 1936, making it the oldest railroad club running out of a single location in the United States.

The club’s home, a former train station built in 1916 and known as Allis Station, is a testament to the city’s industrious past.

This historic venue, once bustling with commuters from the nearby Allis-Chalmers Corp., now serves as the backdrop to one of the most detailed and intricate model railroad layouts you can find.

The architecture of the old station adds to the club’s charm, with subway tiles, the original ticket counter, and remnants of the waiting room still visible.

While the stairs to the former platforms are now sealed, the station’s exterior and its utilitarian essence remain intact, offering a tangible connection to Milwaukee’s railroad history.

A Unique Hobby Space

The Model Railroad Club of Milwaukee stands out for its dedication to the O scale (1/48th size) model trains, a size that predates World War II and has become a rarity in the world of model railroading.

Photo from Historic Milwaukee

The club’s layout, dubbed the Milwaukee Union Terminal Railroad, is a meticulous recreation of the railroading era, complete with a model of the Milwaukee Road’s iconic Hiawatha trainset.

As Amtrak’s Hiawatha Service continues to rumble above, the club beneath keeps the legacy of railroading alive and well.

Visiting the Club

Visiting the club, especially during their last Sunday of the month meet-ups or Monday maintenance gatherings, offers a chance to meet a community that shares not only a passion for model trains but also stories, jokes, and the warmth of camaraderie (quite literally, as they gather around a pot stove in winter months).

While the club operates quietly under the radar, with no external signage to announce its presence, stepping inside is like discovering a secret world of miniature wonder.

If you’d like to meet the members or check out the track, the club opens to the public on the last Sunday of every month from 1 to 4 pm. It’s located under the train track at 215 E National Ave.

You can also try visiting during Historic Milwaukee’s annual Doors Open event.

Pro Tip: You’ll probably want to take your kids during warmer months, since there’s no heat in the club.

To plan a visit at another time, you can try reaching out to the club directly via email (

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