Thursday, July 27, 2017

What do you model?

This postwar scene is of New Haven I-2 Pacific 1305 arriving at Hartford from the south (New Haven) with a local passenger train. Armour facility, including a string of reefers, is at right. Kent Cochrane photo.
Asked almost as frequently among model railroaders as, “Do you have a layout?” is “What do you model?”, meaning some combination of what railroad(s), location, and era do you model? Like many, I have progressed in my interests and thinking. I have yet to truly construct anything beyond a modest, partially completed, New Haven-themed layout with my dad, and that was almost 30 years ago. About a decade ago, I conducted a lot of research and put some effort into designing a few different New Haven layouts, all in the central portion of Connecticut. 

Rough map of my GN-based Minnesota layout
A little less than ten years ago, I started to gravitate to the Great Northern, with its impressive steam power, first being attracted to the area between Litchfield and Benson, Minnesota (see the rough map I created). With my divorce and other life interruptions, I drifted away from things for several years. When I returned, I became smitten by the Inside Gateway from Bieber, California, with an interchange with the Western Pacific, north through Klamath Falls and over Southern Pacific trackage in places, up to Bend, Oregon (I was smitten with Bend literally, as well, looking to it as a place to move when I become an empty nester).

Medford, Oregon from the John W. Barriger National Railroad Library flickr site
At some point, I decided to look at things through a different lens. I asked myself what interests me most? It’s little surprise that my first love is freight equipment. Specifically, I like refrigerator cars, flat cars, and gondolas. There are many places in the Pacific Northwest where these car types were plentiful. I also know that I am not interested in modeling a hotshot mainline. My preference is for something more modest. That narrowed things further. Somehow I stumbled on to the SP in the area around Ashland and Medford, Oregon. The clincher: my favorite wheel arrangement is the 2-10-2, a locomotive used in great quantities by the SP to conquer the Siskiyous over one of the most daunting grades in the U.S.*, to meet the line to Dunsmuir, California (the 2-10-2s were known as “decks” by the SP crews). This line also continued to operate steam well into the 1950s, meaning I could move my chosen date to October, 1951, to accommodate some additional “modern“ freight equipment and October to coincide with the harvest season in the Rogue River Valley.

It will still be another several years before I can entertain actually building any of this, except for the rolling stock and perhaps a structure or two. However, I have settled on a place and time that answers the question, “What do you (aspire to) model?”

*the grades over the Siskiyous were severe enough that when the American Railway Association put the AB schedule brake equipment through its operational testing paces, that’s where the tests were conducted.

1 comment:

  1. It can take time to realize what we really want to model. Only after operating on many different layouts did I realize how much I liked small yards and industrial switching. That's when I began to notice all these neat one to five mile long urban and semi-urban branch lines with diverse industrial customers. But it was only after operating on many layouts when I found what I enjoyed the most.

    - Eric