About Our Club
Founded in 1985, our club has roots going way back in the City of Waukesha, WI. In 2006, we moved to our current location in the Lower Level of 831 N. Grand Ave. Previously, our layout and clubhouse was located in the former Fox Head Brewery building.
Since 2009, our main layout was modular in design, and could be disassembled and transported each year for Trainfest held in Milwaukee, WI. In 2016, our main layout became fixed in its location, and was approximately 20' x 50' featuring scenic lighting for night-time operations and run sessions, as well as a real running water river!
In July of 2022, the club moved to a new (and MUCH larger) location across the street. We are now located below the Social Security building on Grand Ave. Please visit our Events page for information on our 2023 Open House schedule.
The Waukesha County Gandy Dancers currently has four classes of membership. Each of the classes of membership are briefly outlined below, as well as the monthly dues for each class. To join as an official member, visit us during our open houses or monthly club meeting nights and request an application to become a member.
Single membership (basic membership for individuals age 18 - 64): $30/month - full voting rights at club meetings
Family membership (one or two adults and children): $35/month - full voting rights for one family member at club meetings
Senior membership (member age 65 years and older): $20/month - full voting rights at club meetings
Junior membership (member age 17 years and younger): $20/month - no voting rights at club meetings
The Gandy Dancer
Contrary to common thought, the term "Gandy Dancer" is not a name for a new viral/popular dance.
The term "Gandy Dancer" is a reference term to railway line workers. Before electronics and advanced machinery was created, railroad lines were constructed entirely by hand and steam machines. The term "Gandy Dancer" was a slang term by origin, but the original etymology of the term is unknown. "Gandy Dancers" performed the hard, physically demanding work for railroad maintenance, such as laying ties, rails, and ballast rock. These workers came from multiple racial and ethnic origins, including Mexican, Chinese, Irish, and African origins.
The "Dancing" term of comes from the constant, rhythmic movement of the line workers while performing their jobs. Usually, "dancers" were the workers swinging hammers and other heavy tools against the steel rails in unison. Additionally, music was also created during this process. In this time era, blues music was on the rise in popularity. Railway line workers either sang, chanted, or hummed tunes or songs, most often blues songs, to keep a rhythm for swinging tools in unison.
Today, the term "Gandy Dancer" is still applicable to modern railway line workers, but is seldom used as such. Rather, it is now a reference to the physical labor done by the railway line workers in the past. Today's modern railway workers rarely use hand tools such as large hammers and manual track tools like those in the early 1900's have. Rather, they use powered mechanical equipment and electronics, hydraulic tools, and other advanced technology to perform railway maintenance tasks.