The Music Hall at Northlandz Model Train Museum
Northlandz is the creation of GSTOS past President Bruce Williams Zaccagnino and his late wife Jean. Situated on 16 acres near Flemington, N.J., it contains the largest collection of model trains in the world, displayed in a modern, multistory building. The walking tour of this magnificent train display, almost completely hand built by Bruce, begins at the entrance, winds its way to the top, and slowly descends again to the main floor. The indoor walking tour is about a mile in length and takes at least an hour to negotiate. Along the way you will view as many as 100 model trains running in many different geographic settings on 8 miles of track. The suspension bridges, soaring vistas, and gorges are particularly spectacular.
Bruce began his model train hobby in his home basement. As his layouts became more and more elaborate, he would hold open houses during the holidays for friends to view his work. At one point he even expanded his basement to accommodate a bigger layout. By the early 1990’s he had built Northlandz, expanding his layouts even more, and now offers his artistry to the public in a museum setting.
In addition to viewing the model trains and scenery, the walking tour passes through Jean’s doll museum showcasing over 200 dolls, and her “la Peep doll house” (a 94 room mansion). You will also view an Art Gallery showcasing local artists.
Bruce’s theatre “The Music Hall”, located on the ground floor at the center of the venue, comes complete with an Allen George Wright 4 Manual Digital Theatre Organ, and a Multi-keyboard Virtual Theatre Pipe Organ (VTPO) consisting of several synthesizer keyboards and a pedal unit. The Music Hall side balconies also house a Hammond electronic organ on one side, and a Rodgers electronic theatre organ on the other.
The centerpiece of the Hall, however is a 39 rank Marr and Colton hybrid Theatre Pipe Organ controlled by a 5 manual Wurlitzer style console.
Outside, you can go for a train ride around the property on Bruce’s private 2/3 scale model steam railroad, the “Raritan River Railway”.
GSTOS first visited Northlandz on May 18, 1996 when the Marr and Colton hybrid instrument was featured at open console. Today Bruce Williams considers his pipe organ a “museum relic”. The console is on display, but he no longer plays it in favor of his digital instruments. These are usually presented on the weekends when Bruce entertains his model train visitors as they pass through the Music Hall on their walking tours.