The Sioux Valley Engineer’s Society was originally formed in 1948. The first layout was constructed in the basement of the old Hobby Shoppe on 10th Street.
About three years later we moved to the basement of the Old Egyptian Theater and then a few years later to a back room of the downtown Brown’s Cleaner Shop. Each of these moves meant the complete dismantling of the existing layout and building an entirely new one and a new location. All layouts through this point had been in the HO scale.
The third project was vacated in 1955. For the next several years the society carried out a round robin plan. This meant the group would work around on the different layouts and share the pleasures of such operations. Good experience in the many problems of construction and operation were the benefits of such a plan.
In 1964, the Sioux Empire Fair Board invited the Society to build a layout in one of their buildings at the Fairgrounds. This was in 0 gauge, 1/4 inch to the foot scale. Built in a space 12 ft. by 40 ft, and being a larger size made the layout a popular feature of the Fair. It followed the general theme of the Sioux River Valley in scenery and the five local railroads were modeled. This layout was dismantled in 1967 to make way for fair program expansion.
The Board, however, arranged for other space and funds for the construction of a new model railroad for Fair viewers. The Club members set out immediately to construct the present building where this layout is displayed. After a major expansion and rebuilding project in the 80’s and 90’s, the layout has gradually evolved into what you see today.
In 2012 the SVMES applied for and was granted 501C3 status with the IRS. This marks a milestone in the clubs history.
2016 brought another major expansion. A large HO Scale train/circus layout was donated to the club, so members set out to find a way to add it to the layout. The only way to do so was to add on, so a campaign was set forth to raise money to do so. Over the course of the next 2 years, a new addition was slowly but surely constructed that nearly doubled the size of the layout and now houses not only the circus, but also an ethanol plant, a rock quarry, and a small town.
As you might guess, the relationship that SVMES has had with the Sioux Empire Fair Board has been important. We have been pleased that the relationship has been mutually beneficial to the Board and the Society. None of what you see on the layout today would have been possible if not for this partnership.