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 Small Layout Design Help/Challenge - c.1905 Pennsy

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T O P I C    R E V I E W
RyanAK Posted - 10/24/2018 : 4:33:51 PM
Hey, Gang. Just getting back into the hobby and Iím deep into sorting out some design considerations for a smallish layout. I thought Iíd start a post here to see if anyone would like to follow along or contribute. Iím months away from starting any construction, so I think this will be a fun thought exercise in the meantime.

I like early 20th century history, small steamers, small towns, storytelling and Pennsylvania. So... Iíve been exploring some of the short lines, branch lines, and narrow gauge railroads that were prevalent in central PA in the early 1900s. Large parts of the state were pretty remote if not completely isolated at the turn of the century, and there was definitely a Ďfrontierí spirit about. Iíd like to capture that history and feeling with this layout. I think the prevailing thought is that the East was all built-up and civilized by 1900...

In the next post, Iíll outline some design considerations.

15   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
robchant Posted - 08/08/2019 : 10:19:00 PM
Hey Ryan,

Just found your thread again ... any updates or progress on this?

Take care,
OK Hogger Posted - 02/14/2019 : 5:39:26 PM
I can't take my PC to the Throne Room with me like I can a book.

RyanAK Posted - 02/14/2019 : 11:14:27 AM
Always something to learn. I like this hobby because books are still relevant, even as we spend so much time online.
Michael Hohn Posted - 02/13/2019 : 10:40:34 AM

I picked up a copy of the Tuscarora Valley book twenty years ago from the author at the narrow gauge convention in Valley Forge. I enjoy leafing through it and looking at the photos for inspiration. I also like reading the authorís article on his own layout some years back in RMC.

OK Hogger Posted - 02/13/2019 : 10:24:26 AM
... there were so many cool little railroads in central Pennsylvania in the first quarter of the 20th century.

True dat.

I love how Noplace now was Someplace back then.

I even like to go back further than the first quarter of the 20th century... back toward a road's inception and boom that followed.

LOTS of neat elements and inspiration can be found within the eras that TOC19 spans.

RyanAK Posted - 02/13/2019 : 09:49:40 AM
Starting in on the Tuscarora Valley book... what a neat prototype! The book is well done and gives a human touch to the history, which I find appropriate for these narrow gauge and short line roads.

Also picked up a great book on the Susquehanna & New York. Man... there were so many cool little railroads in central Pennsylvania in the first quarter of the 20th century. Really wonderful inspiration for small, achievable layouts. I have about another good half-dozen small scenes with high operational interest to add to the list.

Sonestown... Sonestown is turning into a magnificent layout design. Oh! to have the space available to build it some day.....

RyanAK Posted - 01/28/2019 : 12:51:19 PM
Isn't this place great? The engine house turned church isn't something I ever would have stumbled upon. Very cool. And while looking around the interwebs, it looks like there were a lot of neat narrow gauge and short line railroads in the area. I'd bet that when most people hear "Pittsburgh" and "railroad", they aren't thinking inclines or nifty interurban common carriers in steam!

brian budeit Posted - 01/25/2019 : 2:38:28 PM

that's exactly the article I was thinking of, good sleuthing on your part.
The Ligonier was a neat short line. Originally 3' gauge, it even had a steam powered rail car for passenger service. Built with the backing of the Mellons, the money influence shows in surviving stations, especially the impressive building in Ligonier. Never dieselized, it closed out service in early 50's in steam. Decent amount of buildings survive, and line is short enough to make an easy one day tour. If you want to go to Idlewild Park, the original narrow gauge station is now in the park.
brian b
deemery Posted - 01/25/2019 : 2:04:35 PM
Found this: http://www.lvrra.org/liggies/liggie_sep_2012.pdf Thanks, that's a fascinating story of reuse.

brian budeit Posted - 01/25/2019 : 12:30:46 PM
No photos handy, but if you look up Ligonier Valley Railroad or historical society, there is an on line newsletter that had some nice pictures.
Its not a little two stall wooden house, as most short lines bring to mind. It was a large brick industrial looking building. When the railroad closed down in the early 50's, the building was sold, stripped to the steel frame in places, and rebuilt as a large church and school. Looking at it you would never know, it looks like a late 50's era school building.
There is a storage area in the building with tracks still in the floor, and filled and concreted inspection pits. Supposedly, during rebuilding, anything not wanted was thrown in the pits as fill, and concreted over. Interesting to think what artifacts could be in there.
If you like enginehouses converted to churches, here in Pittsburgh, in the neighborhood of Ingram, is a large church converted from a streetcar barn, again in the 1950's. If you weren't told, you would never know.

brian b
deemery Posted - 01/25/2019 : 12:00:41 PM
"Engine house turned church" - ooh! Tell us more! Photos?

brian budeit Posted - 01/24/2019 : 10:08:56 AM
A major benefit of modeling an area close to home is being able to visit the site to be modeled. To me nothing helps get you oriented like taking a RR book, seeking out the areas, and comparing scenes, as Ryan has done. My main reason for modeling the EBT and the Tuscarora Valley. Both are a day trip, granted, a long day. Sometimes you find something totally unexpected. On a recent visit to Ligonier, I found an old machine shop building from the Ligonier Valley, still standing, in use as a home. Knew about the station and engine house turned church, but not the machine shop.
brian b

OK Hogger Posted - 01/23/2019 : 4:10:02 PM
Yes, too cool. Love the scenes. And yup, that horse n' buggy in the distance is indeed cool!

I'm thinking about hitting the Ozarks tomorrow for an outing. Maybe get some inspirational pictures as they present themselves.

Similar to what John Denver sang: "Thank God I'm a mountain boy!" (Hillbilly!)

RyanAK Posted - 01/23/2019 : 4:05:18 PM
The town we live in now is about 2,500 people. Loganton is the biggest town in Sugar Valley... which is 20 miles long and ~1 mile wide. There are less people in the entirety of Sugar Valley than in Mifflinburg. I think the village of Loganton's current population is less than 500. Population has been pretty flat for over 100 years. It really is remote, even though I-80 passes within 1 mile... and there's even an exit!

I just think it's so cool to visit these places, historic photos in hand, and think back. In a place like Sugar Valley, you don't even have to suspend reality to be taken back. In the first 2019 photo of Loganton above, that little black speck on the road up near the town... is a horse and buggy.

How neat?
OK Hogger Posted - 01/19/2019 : 1:57:58 PM
Neat pictures! Very similar to scenes found in the Ozarks!

Small town life is cool. Been there, done that, loved it.


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