Greetings from the Lakes Region Model Railroad Museum

To all of you, we wish you a very Merry Christmas (as much as social distancing will permit) and a Happy and Healthy New Year.

A very great thank you to all of you for your unconditional support, your enthusiasm, and your investment in the museum. The museum project finally broke ground early this summer. It has been a long and tortuous path to get to that point but the way ahead now looks clear and straight. We lifted the building, rebuilt the foundations, replaced the rotten sills, repaired all the structural timbers and lowered the building back down. It now has the near rectangular shape it had when it was first built. We even identified and preserved the original irregularities. The building is now winterized and nothing much will happen until next spring.

We have not encountered any significant problems and are within our budget. Next spring we will restore the two modified rafters, build the handicap ramp, replace the roof, finish the exterior and rebuild the loading dock. We do not anticipate any further delays or problems.

In parallel, we have been defining the museum and designing the internal layout for the phase 2 construction. Several of you have been actively involved with these discussions and we are moving towards a final definition. Our original goal is unchanged - to create a model railroad layout showing how the arrival of the railroads transformed these isolated villages into interconnected bustling manufacturing centers. We are exploring ways to deepen and expand the historical and educational experience for one-time visitors with layers of Augmented Reality and additional links to original material. We also are convinced that the key to enthusiastic adoption by the community is interactivity and, to that end, we are developing ways for anyone to operate trains, from simple run around in a limited area to full operation of the whole layout. With this ability, visitors can increase their ability to operate increasingly more complex situations thereby earning credits, merit badges, or graduating to become a docent.

We believe that this combination of a sophisticated and layered historical presentation together with interactive operation by all visitors will ensure the museum’s acceptance by the public, will result in multiple visits and enable it to generate sufficient revenue for break-even operation.

While Wolfeboro as a tourist destination will have many one-time visitors to the museum (providing a steady revenue stream), our larger goal is to encourage multiple visits by providing a rewarding and challenging operating experience. We should be able to extend this operating experience beyond the physical museum to the virtual realm, allowing remote interaction with the trains, remote monitoring of movements on the layout and remote linking with the historical presentations.

I hope that you all can see that we are reaching for a unique museum experience, one that, to our knowledge, has not been presented in New England, and which will be an attraction in and of itself. There will be many challenges ahead but we are hard at work to define these and develop realistic solutions.

Two of our challenges are the rapid evolution of social media and changes in the software tools to exploit virtual reality. Will everyone be taking selfies 10 years from now? Will today's teenagers still text each other instead of talking? Our success will correlate with our ability to understand these trends and cater to the visitor of the future.

Exciting and challenging times! And you are all part of this great project.

I hope you are as excited as I am about what we are working on. And I hope you all will continue your support of this amazing project.

Meanwhile, please stay healthy by taking wise precautions and staying away from strangers.

I wish to thank each and every one of you for your support, for the work you have contributed, and for your confidence in us.

If you, or anyone you know, might be able to help us with formulating this novel museum experience, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Happy Holidays and a Merry Christmas.

John Simms.