IMSE History

The Iowa Model Steam Engineers are over 65 old years as an organized club.  In the beginning the club track was at the home of Lloyd Shuster on Longfellow Ave. in Waterloo.   

From Waterloo the club moved to La Porte City.  When Lloyd Shuster retired he moved to Plainfield, Iowa, selling his Waterloo home property, causing the club to find a new home for the track.  Member Clint Elliot had a cousin, Clifford J. Witt, of La Porte City, who volunteered to have the track at his home.  The track in Waterloo was disassembled (after numbering all the parts), moved to Witt’s place in La Porte City, and reassembled over a 14-week period.  When the track was in Waterloo, it had scale size brass rail that got pretty slippery after a few hours running time at meets.  When the track was set up in La Porte, the decision was made to scrap the brass rail and use steel channel instead.  It looked like railroad rail when view from the side, was a bit wider on the top, running surface, and would rust a bit which added some traction compared to the previous brass rail.  I the move to La Porte City was in the summer of 1961 or the summer of 1962.  Then it was decide to add 1.5” scale track around the wooden uprights of the 3/4” scale track.  There was no one-inch scale track on the elevated or the ground track.  In 1965 the Iowa Model Steam Engineers incorporated.     

In 1967 the club started transitioning to its third location.  The track was built at the home of Pursing Scott in Robins Iowa.  This location had 900’ of 1 ½” track on the ground and 550’ of 1” and ¾” elevated track.  The ground track used 1” tall aluminum rail and was L shaped with one siding and an unloading spur.  The highline was on steel posts with redwood stringer in the shape of an oval.  The rail was ¼” x ¾” steel bar set in grooved ties.  

In 2003 the club moved to its current track site in rural Mount Pleasant on the Tom Morgan acreage.  The first phase was 900 feet of 7 ½” track in an oval with a 120’ curved trestle, 90’ curved tunnel, 20’ panel bridge, and switches for a Y.  Next the highline track was purchased from the St Croix live steamers and 650’ installed with a switch to move off the main to a turn table and steaming bays.  The ground track yard improved and steaming bays installed.  In the spring of 2008 a 900’ extension was started, and completed in the spring of 2010.  This extension was a figure eight with a trestle to create and over and under.   

Excerpt from:

Iowa Model Steam Engines

Meeting Minutes

October 4, 1953

After a brief discussion of things in general the meeting progressed to the formation of an organization to be known hereafter as the Iowa Model Steam Engineers.

            The purpose of the organization to be, to propagate desire, interest, discuss, exchange ideas, to build and operate steam powered equipment, and accessories pursuant to said items.  This was adopted by unanimous note.

            Officers elected by acclamation were as follows, Les Glass, Sac City Iowa President, P. G. Scott, Cedar Rapids Iowa, General Secretary and Treasurer.

Pershing Scott


In the Miniature Locomotive-July-August 1954 issue on page 8 under Club News is a write up of the first meet of the IMSE.

The Iowa Model Steam Engineers

by Pershing Scott

Sunday May 9 1954, was the First meeting and RUN of the Club. The day was spent with the operation of three locos on the track, a Case traction engine under steam.  Several engines also on display from Ron Christensen, Del Mann, Dave Delancey, Les Glass.  On the track was Les glass with a Hudson, Clint Elliott with 0-4-0, Scotty had a British 2-4-0 Paul Otto had a One inch scale Case traction engine.

After a day of running mostly 3/4 scale models, the group spent the evening in C.E. Elliott’s basement watching movies taken by Henry Kline, and Ron Christensen.