GFO Bergamo



2011 – Celebrating the Centennial of the completion of “Ferrovia Valle Seriana” in Clusone

Following preliminary contacts in early Summer 2010, a collaboration was started between GFO and the Museo Arte Tempo (MAT) in Clusone for a joint effort celebrating the Centennial of FVS establishing its terminus in Clusone. The Ferrovia Valle Seriana (FVS) was started in 1882, getting in short time to the temporary northernmost terminus of Ponte Selva.
The FVS was paramount as for the industrial development of the Valle Seriana, serving mines, quarries, and the countless textile mills in the lowest parts of the valley. Clusone was (and still is) the most relevant center in the upper part of the valley, spread out in a gently rolling basin among beautiful mountains and fir-dotted slopes, of great interest for the growing tourist business. In spite of this – after a number of attempts – the final plan for a railway was laid out only in 1909: it called for crossing the Serio river in Ponte Nossa, climbing sharply (slightly more than 3%) across a thick forest of fir and spruce, and finally using a gentle slope to reach Clusone (in its lowest part).
The GFO contribution to the Centennial event was substantial. The H0 model of the Clusone station was moved as a whole from the penthouse in Erli Pievani’s house. Stands were built to appropriately display the H0 scale FVS dioramas built by Sergio Morzenti e Franco Bonomi, on which were placed our scratchbuilt (or heavily kitbashed) models of FVS engines and rolling stock. GFO also contributed significantly to the photographic displays, starting from materials from the MAT archives and the “Wolf Press” collection, managed by GFO (see the Section “Images” in this website). Franco Bonomi was in charge of setting up all the texts and legends accompanying the pictures, as well as of the whole editing and graphical work.
It has to be underscored that all this frantic activity was carried out in an extremely collaborative fashion between GFO members and the fantastic people at MAT. Thanks mostly to the MAT ability at involving media and local authorities, the efforts of all of us have been rewarded with a unexpected and fulfilling success. We (MAT and GFO) got full houses even at “cultural” events, such as the lectures offered by Franco Bonomi in Clusone and in Ponte Nossa, where he presented a mixture of historical and technical data, spiced up with lots of vintage pictures and with pictures of some of the modeling efforts devoted to FVS (including our own, of course). Altogether, this remains one of the most rewarding events in the GFO history.

2012 – The new “modular” exhibition layout

The year 2012 has seen a burst in the work finalized to complete the new exhibition layout. The first attempts underscored the need of revising some of the rules as far as size of individual modules, that had no room for cars or storage tracks in their earliest version. Changes were also related to the issue of making the assembly/transport/disassembly sequence less cumbersome.
Work was fast enough to allow using the “new” layout as the “main course” in the event related to the 30th anniversary of the yearly Bergamo event (see below). Since then, the modules have been stored in Trezzo d’Adda, courtesy of Marco Ponzoni. In his place there is enough room to keep the whole layout assembled in full, making it easier to work on it. Also available were forklifts for moving around modules (or for loading them on Marco’s truck when required). To further facilitate transport, GFO now uses some custom-made steel frames (with pivoting casters) for stacking and moving around groups of individual modules. This not only makes it possible to use forklifts for loading/unloading, but also minimizes movement of individual modules during transit and he possible transport-related damage to scenic elements, tracks, and electronics.

2013 – The 30th yearly event in Bergamo involves multiple location

If not for the perseverant efforts of Roberto Longhi, then the president of GFO, the celebrations for “numero 30” would never had acquired their extraordinary size. He made it possible to spread the yearly events over two consecutive weekends. One was devoted to the customary exhibit of model trains and of railway images, held in the very heart of historic Bergamo Alta, and the other was a joint Open House involving the GFO headquartes and the adjoining ATB museum.
The Bergamo Alta exhibit was in the former Ateneo buiding, that was erected in mid XVIII century on top of a huge cistern (called “Fontanone”, that is, the big fountain). The Fontanone is a water reservoir built by the Visconti family in 1287 with the purpose of collecting water from the many little streams on the northern slope of the Bergamo hills that already flowed into town through vases dated to the Roman times. The reservoir is actually as old as the nearby church of Santa Maria Maggiore, and much older than the current Cathedral, that was completed after the Venetian walls encircling the old town (completed in 1582).
The Ateneo provides rooms of different size, that hosted – for the first time – the new traveling layout of GFO, along with a number of very professional-looking panels that summarized the GFO activities (some of them are still on display in the GFO headquarters. Also on display was the 0n30 American layout (1/48 models on H0 track, simulating 30” gauge railways), built by Franco Bonomi and Erli Pievani. A separate room hosted a multimedial presentation, with videos of our models and a commented presentation of historical railroad images from the WolfPress-GFO collection.
The combined “Open House” (ATB Museum / GFO headquarters) in the following weekend was a major success as well, keeping GFO members busy, along with ATB personnel and with ing. Giuliano Rossini, a former GFO member and a bespoken expert on the history of local transport (and a volunteer guide for visiting schools and individuals). As mentioned above, the 2013 Open House marks the transition of the former H0 layout from “traveling” to “resident”, and – most notably – allows the general public to see the FVB/FVS layout under operation in its (hopefully final) home in the GFO headquarters.

2017 – Updating the GFO Statute and Bylaws (and getting a new president in the process)

In 2016 Roberto Longhi informs us of his desire to withdraw from presdent, for personal reasons. The Assembly appoints Marco Ponzoni as the new president, and also considers a revision of the Group Statutes and Bylaws. Relevant changes include reducing the officers to two (President – acting as the legal representative - and Secretary/Treasurer) with a prolonged tenure (three years minimum). Only “full” members will be allowed to vote in the assembly, as they will be held accountable “in solido” for the GFO financial status. Temporary aggregate members (with significantly lower dues) may become full members only after a two year probation period and upon approval of the majority of full members.

2018 – The “resident” H0 layout gets a facelift

Between 2017 and 2018 the resident H0 layot gets digital, and gets significantly streamlined. All the former uphills and downhills are removed, with a rearrangement of the return loos at the ends of the “folded dogbone” design. Scenery gets renewed, along with the “Borghetto” control panel after removal of the hidden storage trucks on the bottom level. The current layout also includes four modules (a seaside scene by Franco Bonomi and a small industrial area by Erli Pievani), that were no longer fit to the modified standards of the modular “traveling” layout.

2020-2022 The COVID lockdown

All the GFO activities came to a sudden stop in the afternoon of March 6, 2020, just a few weeks after the 2019 Assembly, when the COVID lockdown comes into effect. Some restrictions are relieved during the Summer of 2020, allowing a few brave members to go on a tour of some railroad attractions in Germany. The pandemic strikes back in early Fall, and all activities of GFO are suspended again. Fortunately, this second lockdown was not so strict, and some work resumed in Trezzo, where Marco Ponzoni hosted the traveling H0 layout.
The availability of vaccines in early 2021 brings substantial improvement, if not for the headquarters remaining closed because ATB is working on a new access policy to the company grounds. GFO keeps meeting in Trezzo, and focuses on the replacement of parts of the “traveling” H0 layout with stantardized modules that could fit the “steel cages” mentioned above for transport. The whole system undergoes a first positive test during the yearly event in Carnate, resumed (albeit on a smaller scale) in December 2021
In the Spring and Summer of 2022 the traveling layout undergoes major electrical work, with the installation of a wireless Roco Z21 unit (and an accessory booster) and a major debugging of the automatic signal/block system. The layout is then displayed in Bergamo/Longuelo (September 2022) and again in Carnate (December 2022).
Late 2021 and most of 2022 also kept Franco Bonomi and Erli Pievani (although no longer a GFO member) busy in refurbishing the large N scale layout that greets visitors in the hall of the “Bolognini” hospital in Seriate (a suburb of Bergamo). The Italian-themed layout was conceived by the original builder (Aligi Losio) with a fully automated and fairly intricated trackplan, and was donated to the hospital shortly before the passing of Mr. Losio. Trains ran on DCC on computer-controlled routes. Although kept in a custom-built and fully air conditioned “glass room”, time and lack of maintenance took their toll, worsening some of the original design flaws, and making all the automated routing features useless. The hospital management thus contacted GFO and - after several months of bi-weekly work sessions - Franco and Erli were able to fix a good part of the most relevant issues, allowing visitor to see trains running on two separate itineraries just by pressing a big yellow button outside of the aforementioned “glass case”.
Finally, after 21 months and several meetings with ATB officers in the early Summer of 2022, the GFO headquarters re-open to members on Friday, December 16, 2022 for a Xmas toast, followed by our welcome to the New Year on Friday, December 30, 2022.

2023 – On track again

The year started with the Assembly (January 13, 2023), one week short of three years since the last one. All members came up with great plans for 2023. Given the committment of Giuseppe Senatore (the GFO webmaster) we are confident that you will keep up with the most recent updates on the “News” page of our website.

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