Orange County Model Engineers
The Orange County Model Engineers (OCME) was originally formed in 1977 as the Orange
County Live Steamers (OCLS), after the demise of the short lived Long Beach Live Steamers.
Negotiations were started soon after with Orange County for a site in Mile Square Park.
As work progressed on a draft contract between the County and OCLS, the County began
placing conditions on the Club's use of the park, which the Club felt were not in its
best interests. Finally the negotiations were broken off and the Club began looking
elsewhere for a site.
Through Chris Anten, the City of Huntington Beach was contacted with a proposal for a
facility in its Adventure Park. Huntington Beach was interested in the idea but indicated
that it would be a number of years before it could pursue the proposal. About this time
contact was made with the City of Costa Mesa, which expressed an interest and suggested
a site in Fairview Park on the west side of Placentia Avenue. Costa Mesa said they would
contact the Club as soon as the City and the State had finalized the City's acquisition
of this land.
Around 1982 Bob Platfoot and Pete Garwood brought the Club and the City of Irvine together.
The Club proposed a facility in Irvine's Heritage Park. Shortly after that, Irvine decided
the Club would better fit in the City's planned new Civic Center park. Since the park was
several years away, Irvine proposed the Club build a temporary facility on an eight acre
site adjoining the proposed Civic Center park. In 1985 the Club formally incorporated in
California with a change of name as the Orange County Model Engineers (OCME) and a formal
slate of officers was elected.
OCME developed a plan for the temporary site in Irvine, which was submitted tothe city for
discussion. A ground breaking ceremony was held in anticipation of the city's approval of
the Club's plan. While OCME and Irvine were haggling over details, Costa Mesa contacted the
Club and asked if we were still interested in using Fairview Park. Because of the state of
negotiations between OCME and Irvine, the Club decided to pursue negotiations with Costa Mesa
concurrently with those in progress with Irvine.
Costa Mesa decided that the forty plus acres on the east side of Placentia Avenue would be
better suited to the OCME's needs and accordingly gave the Club a topographical map of the
site with which to develop a Facility Plan, which was submitted to, and subsequently approved
by, Costa Mesa. The outcome of the parallel negotiations with the two cities was a twenty five
year renewable lease with the City of Costa Mesa signed in October 1988. Negotiations with
Irvine were ended and a ground breaking ceremony was held in the new home of OCME.
In March of 1989 OCME began construction of a temporary six hundred foot oval of track at the
site of the current station which was completed in time for OCME to hold its first public run
in August, 1989. Following this first run, construction was started on the permanent
On March 19, 1991, with construction of the First Phase loop completed, OCME held its Golden
Spike Ceremony, thus inaugurating operations on twenty four hundred feet of track, including
the ninety foot Hank Hornsvelt trestle. In attendance were Mary Hornbuckel, Mayor of Costa Mesa,
and Keith VanHolt, Director of Parks and Recreation.
Work was next started on Phase Two, which incorporated another eighteen hundred feet of track
out to the water tower at Mehren, included The North and South Y's. Also built at this time
were: Higgins Loop, Matassa loop, Platfoot Yard, and the access tracks from Skinner Yard at
the exit from the compound. Up to this time, we had been using a temporary canopy for a station
platform cover. A permanent cover was in order. In late 1998 Plans were drawn up and submitted
to the city for approval. The city reviewed the plans and asked for some changes to the support
posts. The changes were made and the plans re-submitted to the city, which approved them in early
1999. Construction was started in mid year and the cover was completed within a couple of
In mid 1998, the plans for the rest of Goat Hill Junction Station, which included restrooms, a
storage area, and the club store, were submitted to the city for approval. Approval was given
in the Fall of that year. Construction was started in February of 1999, and completed the following
June. Most of the work of building the station was done by Club members.
In 2003, the Club received permission from the city to proceed with the third and final phase of
the Club's Facility Plan, the Mountain Division. Construction was started in the Spring, including
the transplanting of endangered Purple Needle Grass with the help of the Boy Scouts. Track work
was finished in time to inaugurate operations on the Mountain Division at our 2003 Fall Meet.
More work lies ahead. The addition of a much needed siding off the Switchback is underway. Future
plans include stub-sidings for prototype operations, and a re-build of the passenger loading
area cover at the station due to termite damage which will be done by an Eagle Scout as a badge