The formation of the Rutland Railroad Historical Society is said to have begun on Labor Day weekend 1968 when a small group, loosely calling itself the Rutland Railroad Historical and Technical Society, met at Steamtown, in Riverside, Vt. in what amounted to a show-and-tell get-together. Following this meeting the idea of having a club dedicated to the memory of the Rutland Railroad was kept alive by some of these same individuals who continued to correspond with each other and share information on all aspects of the Rutland Railroad. Among the ‘members’ were former employees, model railroaders, historians and those who just liked trains.
An increasing interest in the Rutland Railroad appeared among certain members of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s model railroad club in Troy, N.Y. As the club layout continued to grow in size throughout the 1970’s, specific re-creations of communities and facilities on the Rutland helped spur served to spur more interest in the Rutland. As the number of Rutland supporters in the RPI club grew, it was decided to test the waters by organizing a ‘Rutland Weekend’ in Troy in April 1987. This meet attracted a large number of registrants from New England, New York State and Canada.
The success of the ‘Remember the Rutland Weekend’ brought with it a determined interest in establishing a Rutland Railroad historical society. However, the Rutland Railway Association, a successful model railroad club in Rutland, Vt. had already registered the name ‘Rutland Railroad Historical Society’. In fact, RRA had done so in order to create a branch of the club that would cater to those who were primarily interested in the history of the Rutland Railroad.
The successful establishment of RRHS occurred when a group of RPI club members were invited to a meeting of the Burlington chapter of the National Railway Historical Society in North Ferrisburg, Vt. in early summer 1987. There, a significant number of attendees supported the formation of a Rutland Railroad historical group. Also at the meeting were a number of members from the Rutland, Vt. model railroad club. Once back home from the NRHS meeting, the RPI club decided to give its support to members of the Rutland club who wished to form a historical society dedicated to preserving the history of the Rutland Railroad. In due course the funds collected at the Rutland Weekend were forwarded as start-up financing to the new RRHS group in Rutland.
Although RRHS was technically part of the Rutland Railway Association, the new group began, almost immediately, to function as an independent group, with no elected officers and no rules. The first issue of the society’s magazine, the RRHS “Newsliner”, a 16-page edition, was published in August 1987 by editor John Nehrich and publisher Roger Dumas. From its inception RRHS has continued to be based in Rutland, Vermont and has members in 34 States and Provinces across North America, from Alaska to Florida, California to Quebec.
To this day there has never been any official RRHS constitution, bylaws or elected officers. This simple formula seems to have worked, the general feeling among the over 350 members being that RRHS seems to have an intrinsic quality that forges a bond among its members to promote the preservation of the history of the Rutland Railroad.