In early 1991, a group of modelers convened in Tulsa, OK to investigate the possibility of establishing a club to build a model railroad designed for operation. Inspiration for this gathering had come largely from the first OKIOS (Oklahoma Operations Symposium) held in Tulsa the previous fall. Rich Montesano and Don Carrington created OKIOS. The first OKIOS had as its theme “Designing a Model Railroad for Operation”. Approximately 25 modelers attended. The presenters were Keith Jordan, Bob Willer and Chuck Hitchcock, all from Kansas City, Steve King of Chicago and David Barrow from Austin.
Out of that 2 day symposium grew the idea in several modeler’s minds to create a model railroad in Tulsa that was designed primarily for realistic operation and was large enough to keep a dozen or more people busy during a session. A few people formed an ad hoc study group to investigate possible locations for the layout. Several sites were investigated and in January, 1992 approximately 35 modelers gathered to discuss the possibilities. The initial studies indicated that in order to pay lease and utility costs as well as to fund building the railroad, around, 50 members would be required with each contributing several hundred dollars in initiation fees with monthly dues of $60-75. Most in attendance agreed that the cost was too high and not enough participation was available in Tulsa on a continuing basis to support such an operation.
At about the same time, the Rogers County Model Railroad Club in Claremore, OK, 15 miles NE of Tulsa, lost its rent-free lease on its space for its N and HO modular layouts and the club went into a period of inactivity. George Maulsby, a member of the club who owned a farm outside of Claremore had been considering an N scale layout in a bedroom recently vacated by his now grown children. As he and his wife discussed it, Catherine said, “George why don’t you put your layout down in the barn.” Little did she know what her suggestion would lead to. The barn was a 35′ x 60′ pole barn with a dirt floor and was open on two sides to the weather. It was filled with 18 years of accumulated “stuff” (As George Carlin says, “My ‘junk’ is stuff — your ‘stuff’ is junk“). The barn also allowed the two horses on the farm a place to get in out of the weather for food and shelter.
George canvassed the group of modelers to find out who would be interested in forming a club in Claremore (about 30 miles NE of Tulsa). Beginning in March, a club was formed, numerous layout plans were sketched, and it was decided to base the layout on the Frisco as it existed between Tulsa, OK and Monett, MO in July, 1955. Needless to say, the horses lost out and the barn was emptied out. The VW Beetle that was uncovered in the back of the barn was kept (George had forgotten that it was in there) but most of the “stuff” was “junk” and was hauled to the dump. The dirt floor was leveled, forms were built and on May 5, 1992 a concrete slab was poured.
During the summer a crew of about six put up exterior walls, insulated the ceiling, built a crew lounge and bathroom and installed a HVAC system. In August the club members journeyed to Kansas City to visit Larry Keeler’s layout and consider the acquisition of CTC-80, at the time the most popular and trouble free command control system. That weekend several of the members participated in their first operating sessions on the layout of Doug Taylor. By September benchwork was begun and by mid-October the initial benchwork was ready for the first ~175′ of mainline. Over the winter mainline, passing sidings and industry tracks were installed along with the main operating yard with its 12-track bowl and a 12-track double-ended 20′ long staging yard. In the spring of 1992, the CTC-80 system was installed and the layout was wired.
A car card system was developed, a schedule was devised, donated rolling stock was checked out and receivers were installed in locomotives. On August 13, 1992 the first operating session was held on the C&S. It was the first operation of a CTC-80 equipped layout in the State of Oklahoma. Approximately 15 operators were present. A four-hour operating session was run with over 30 trains. Everyone had a great time. No one got home before midnight!
Over the next two years the track was expanded by adding the last section of benchwork, and additional mainline to a total of 243′. The town and yard at Claremore and the towns of Afton, Caleton, and Chelsea were added. The Missouri Pacific running from Ft. Smith, AR through Muskogee and Claremore, OK and on to Coffeyville, KS was added. An interchange with the MKT was added in Caleton and a KCS interchange was added in Afton. A year or so later it was decided to eliminate Chelsea so the mainline could be relocated. A”twister” conveniently blew down the Oklahoma plains and completely demolished the town. During the time the mainline was out, the C&S obtained temporary trackage rights over the MOP and continued its monthly operating sessions while the C&S mainline was rebuilt with better mainline construction.
Today, the C&S is maturing into a club with a well-developed layout with over 370 feet of mainline along with a big refinery to switch and a steel mill . Operating sessions are the second Saturday of every month from 1 to 4PM or so. Also club members regularly participate in regional and national operating events such as Prairie Rail (Kansas City), TOOTERS (Houston/Dallas/Tulsa round robin), Rust Belt (Chicago), Hograil(NW Arkansas) and Pro Rail (various cities). In addition, the C&S is proud to have hosted some of model railroading’s premier operators and personalities, including Andy Sperandeo, Tony Koester, David Barrow, Chuck Hitchcock, Keith Jordan, Steve King, Keith Guiterrez, the late Jim Heidorn (member), David Halpern, Ron Williams, Walt Stansbury as well as dozens of other modelers from Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas.