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Kevin Kussow - HOn3 Silverton in 1890 - Franklin, NC

This layout is HOn3 and is 24’x30’. It can operate as a continuous loop or point to point. Included is Durango Yard, Rockwood, the High Line, Silverton, Red Mountain Town, and the Yankee Girl Mining Area. The time frame is 1890 and fall is in the air.

The tea kettles are hard at work on the grades bringing ore from the mines high above Silverton back down into the bustling town. There they will be picked up and brought down to Durango, where they will be dropped off at the smelter. The trip down follows the Animas River, and rides above on the infamous high line. Passing through Rockwood and then entering the helix which brings the elevation down into Durango.

All of the backdrops are hand painted and many of the structures are scratch built. This is the 8th year of working on the layout. It has been featured in the 2020 HOn3 Annual. A few steps are involved in accessing this layout.

Neal Anderson - The KK&L Railroad [The Plywood Railroad]

The railroad is a point to point railroad that is totally freelanced. It is in HO scale 1/87th.  The track is mostly code 100 flex with some of the turnouts hand built. Crossovers and a gauntlet running in a curve hand built. The layout takes up most of the basement. The layout is Digitrax powered.

The lighting in the layout room was an afterthought. I installed 3w LED lights that are powered by the solar panels that are outside. For further information on the railroad, visit my Web site at : www.kklrailroad.com

Seth Gartner - NYC Piney Fork Branch Railroad - Charlotte, NC

This railroad recreates a compressed version of the 87 mile Alliance Branch of the New York Central Railroad’s Lake Division.  The railroad branch experienced its economic peak in the first half of the 20th century hauling coal from the mines of eastern Ohio. The NYC had a relatively large yard in Minerva for weighing the coal and then sending trains north to Cleveland. 

Seth’s modeling efforts have been underway for 20 years. The railroad is double decked with 260 feet of mainline between staging yards. As Minerva, Ohio is his hometown, several locations have been modeled with compressed fidelity to the prototype. Photos of other locations were used to recreate several scenes.  He created a fictitious steel mill and southern connection to enhance train movements while operating the railroad. The era is approximately 1964 with four axle locomotives, some in outdated lightning stripes, moving the trains. Scenery is 96% completed.  Control is with Digitrax DCC. Car cards with itineraries controls car movements except for coal traffic which moves in blocks. Time table and train order controls the movement of trains. Three staging yards receive and originate trains off railroad.  Two yards, six towns, ten coal tipples, and a steel mill provide the setting to keep nine operators, a dispatcher and an agent busy for 5 hours.  

The railroad resides in a 12’ x 30’ room in the basement. There is outside access to avoid climbing inside stairs. Further photos, narrative, and a track plan may be accessed by looking at the article in August 2018 Model Railroader.

Steve Mersch - HO B&O - Charlotte, NC

This is an HO Scale layout occupying a 450 square foot room located on the 3rd floor. The layout is based on the Cumberland Division of the Baltimore and Ohio RR in the 1950s. A double-track mainline with a branch line serves several coal mines. The engine facility is equipped with a 6 stall roundhouse and 110′ turntable and associated engine servicing facilities.  The railroad interchanges with the Western Maryland RR.

The layout is a multi-level walk-in style, with no duckunder.  The mainline has 80 feet of double track, with a minimum radius of 28″ and a ruling grade of 1.75%.  The branchline has a 22″ minimum radius, with a 2.5% ruling grade.  The track is Code 83 on the mainline, and Code 70 on the branch.  The West Virginia mountain scenery is 80% complete.  Backdrops are painted 1/4″ hardboard, and the layout is operated with an NCE DCC system. Steps involved in accessing the layout room.

John Short - HOn3 Rio Grande Southern - Nebo, NC

The HOn3 Rio Grande Southern is set in 1940, during the late summer/early fall time frame.  The model railroad includes portions of the entire line from Ridgway, Colorado to Durango, Colorado.  Additionally, a small representation of the Denver & Rio Grande Western Silverton Branch is included.  The railroad is operations-oriented, and makes use of a North Coast Engineering (NCE) Digital Command Control (DCC) radio control system.  Durango, a focal point on the layout, contains a scratchbuilt model of the 10-stall roundhouse as it existed in 1940, and the necessary coal, sand, ash, and water facilities.  Rico, a division point on the prototype as well as the layout, contains a scratchbuilt model of the Pro Patria Mill, as well as a connection to the seldom-modeled Enterprise Branch.  The Enterprise Branch is a freelanced addition on a second level, added for operational challenges.  Iconic locations, including Ophir, Vance Junction, and Placerville are also included.  The Telluride Branch, which connects to the main line at Vance Junction is also included on a second level. 

 This branch serves the mining community of Telluride, and the major mines and mills located above in Pandora.  The railroad terminates in the town of Ridgway, where a roundhouse, turntable and complete engine servicing facilities are located.  The turntable is a 65′ turntable, rather than the prototypical 50′ turntable.  I used a larger turntable so that K-27s, as well as K-28, K-36, and K-37 locos, could be turned, since there was no place to install a wye.  The layout, and its predecessor (dismantled upon my retirement and relocation to North Carolina) have been featured in the Narrow Gauge and Shortline Gazette and Great Model Railroads 2014.

The model railroad is approximately 1,000 sq. ft, and is located in the basement of my log home.  Access is via an inside or an outside stairway.  Trackwork is 100% complete, with basic scenery completed for about 80% of the layout.  The minimum radius is 24″, with maximum grades of about 2.5%.

Lou & Cheryl Sassi - On30 Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes Railroad - Willow Springs, NC

Lou & Cheryl Sassi’s On30 Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes Railroad occupies a 17’ by 22’ bonus room above the garage of their home.  The railroad is free standing in the center of the room and measures 7’ by 16’ with a 2’ by 10’ central opening in which there is a movable backdrop.  One side has a (10’ long by 3’ high) photo mural depicting late fall and the other, a (10’ long by 3’high) photo mural of early summer.  Both photos are taken in the general vicinity of the railroad.

Rather than modeling the entire 112 miles of the SR&RL, Lou incorporated only the villages of Strong and Kingfield with the track running in a closed loop rather than point to point.  There is an interchange (adjacent narrow and standard gauge sidings where lading is moved between cars) with the Maine Central in Kingfield.  (The interchange was in Farmington on the prototype).  There are also team tracks on the leads to Forster’s Toothpick Mill in Strong and the Winter Store in Kingfield. 

The bench-work and trackage of the railroad are completely finished with scenery 100% done.  Trains are controlled with North-Coast Engineering DCC.  The model represents the prototype as it existed from the late 1920’s to mid 30’s.  All locomotives are sound equipped.  All motive power and rolling stock are lettered and numbered for the SR&RL, custom painted, and weathered.

The railroad has been featured in Model Railroader’s June 2014, July 2014, June 2015, January 2016, April 2016 issues.  There was also an in-depth article on the planning and construction of the railroad in 2015’s Model Railroad Planning.  It was also the cover story in the 2020 issue of Kalmbach’s Great Model Railroads.  There is an ongoing series of articles in Model Railroader by both Lou and Cheryl covering scenic, structure, and equipment construction and detailing on the railroad.          

Marcus Neubacher- N Scale Freelanced Norfolk Southern Mountain Line - China Grove, NC

This layout is a Norfolk Southern line in the late 1980s/early 1990s but is inspired by the Clinchfield loops in North Carolina. Long trains climb up and over the Blue Ridge on long grades that climb several true feet in elevation. Some sections have complete scenery while others are still in progress. True mountain railroading in the modern era.

Don Yelverton- Fn3 logging - Charlotte, NC

This outdoor logging layout surrounds an in ground pool but also ventures out onto a long bridge built on concrete piers, allowing the visitor to experience the trains at eye level and above.  Continuous running and switching opportunities keep things interesting. An excellent back yard layout.

Jack Parker- HO Scale Clinchfield Railroad - Charlotte, NC

This model railroad is housed in two buildings with the mainline running through long box tunnels to get from one building to another. Parts of this railroad go back to the 1970s and use some old school methods to get things done, while other sections have been upgraded. Each siding and scene has its own story now, told by the group who operate it. Featured in the May 2018 Model Railroader.

Piedmont & Western- HO Museum Layout - Valdese, NC

The Piedmont & Western club layout is located in the Old Rock School in Valdese, NC, just a few  miles from the Convention Center. Another room of layout has been added since they were open in 2011, including some HOn3 logging line. Adjoining the layout is a museum room with many photos and artifacts on display, making this a must see for modelers and historians alike.

Bill Hayward- D&RGW standard and narrow gauge near Alamosa - State Road, NC

The layout is set in the fall of 1949 (or 1950), centered around the dual gauge yard in Alamosa, CO. Standard gauge track extends eastward, disappearing into a tunnel on La Veta Pass, and dual gauge track extends south to Antonito, then west on narrow gauge track over Cumbres Pass, disappearing into a hidden staging yard representing Chama and beyond. In 1949 Alamosa still served two passenger trains, the overnight standard gauge train from Denver, and the narrow gauge San Juan to Durango, CO. The Alamosa Division ran mostly steam at this time, but diesel power was occasionally used over La Veta Pass to Alamosa. The narrow gauge portion of the layout climbs a 2.5% grade to the top of Cumbres Pass, the highest point on the Rio Grande, and, in fact, the highest railroad pass in the United States.

Andrew Stitt- ET&WNC in On30

The On30 layout built by Andrew Stitt is inspired by the ET&WNC narrow gauge railroad that ran through the mountains of eastern Tennessee, and northwestern North Carolina. It represents about 20 miles of the line from Hampton, TN to Cranberry, NC. The era modeled is the early 1920’s, considered by some to be the peak of operations for the line. The layout covers approximately 1000 sq. ft., and is designed to enhance operations. It is run using Dead Rail and Tsunami-2 sound-equipped locomotives.

The George L. Carter Railroad Museum, ETSU and the ET&WNC RR Narrow-gauge Layout - Johnson City, TN

The George L. Carter Railroad Museum on the campus of East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, TN opened its doors to the public in November 2007.  It comprises 5,000 sq. ft. of model railroad layouts and exhibit space that also incorporates two work rooms, a children’s playroom and a library with more than 1,700 railroad-themed hardbound books.  Model railroads in 4 scales are built, maintained, and operated by members of the Mountain Empire Model Railroaders and the G.L. Carter Chapter NRHS.  Model layouts in G-Scale, HO-Scale, HOn3, and N-Scale are operated in the museum’s two large galleries. 

Perhaps the operating model railroad layout of most interest to people living in this region is the HOn3-Scale layout that depicts the ET&WNC RR in the 1,300 sq. ft. Ken Marsh Gallery.  This narrow-gauge railroad, the “Tweetsie”, originated in Johnson City, TN, and snaked 34 miles through the Southern Appalachian Mountains to the magnetic-rich iron ore Cranberry mines, in Cranberry, NC.  For 70 years it was the lifeline for isolated mountain people that connected them to the industries and goods in Elizabethton and Johnson City.  Our layout is set in the years around 1925, the heyday of the “little railroad with a heart”, with a summertime landscape of thousands of green trees on steep mountain sides.  Our 8 scale miles of 3-foot gauge track cover the original route of this little, short-line railroad.  Every effort has been made in constructing the layout to make it resemble the prototype.  Tunnels and bridges are constructed to scale and the deep mountain canyons have rock formations that mirror the protype scenery.  Buildings along the route have been created inhouse from historic photos and are unique to this railroad and this layout. 

This layout was begun 9 years ago, and the work continues; at this point it is approximately 80% complete.  We believe this to be the largest and most authentic layout depicting the ET&WNC RR, in HOn3-Scale in existence.  The work on the layout is of museum quality and it has been featured in the past 7 consecutive editions of the HOn3 Annual published by White River Productions. 

The Carter RR Museum is open Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and by arrangement at other times to special groups. They will be open on Wednesday September 1 and Saturday September 4 for convention attendees.

Rob Bell – Hon3 Hard Ridge Division, White Pass & Yukon Route - Waynesville, NC

The Hon3 Hard Ridge Division follows the famed White Pass & Yukon Route from the wharf located in Skagway, Alaska up the “Dead Horse Trail” to the summit at White Pass via a 3.9% grade.  The model follows the prototype in picking up tourists and freight on the double-tracked wharf, which is 4 feet long and has over 420 pilings.  From there the trains pass the fuel storage tank facility and then amble down the middle of Broadway Street past numerous false front buildings (some are still mock ups).  The trains then pass the company’s Shops where the grueling 3.9% grade begins.  Several landmarks are represented on the climb up to the summit including the Skagway River, Clifton, Slippery Rock, bridge 15c and the tunnel at mile 16, then through the cut at the summit of White Pass.  Past the summit is a reverse loop that represents either Frasier or Lake Bennett.  The reverse loop has an integral passing siding and a spur leading to twin storage tracks that represent points farther north.

The railroad is a point to reverse loop layout set at a tall 57 – 68 inch level and fills a 13ft x 15ft room in my wood working shop building.  The layout’s high height adds to the illusion of grandeur and allows for unique scenic perspectives not available on most layouts.  The timeframe can be set from 1940 to 1975 by simply changing locomotives, some rolling stock, and vehicles; though the 1960s are normally represented.  A NCE DCC system powers the SoundTraxx Tsunami equipped Diesel and steam locomotives.  The track is 85% complete, lacking only the shops/roundhouse area, and includes hand-laid curved point-type switches, stub switches, and a 3-way stub switch controlled by an Arduino and a stepper motor.  Basic scenery is about 80% complete with one bridge still a temporary affair.  The layout was started in November 2017, but did not really get going until March of 2018.  The Waynesville Area Rail Roaders (WARR) was formed to help build this and a couple of other layouts.  Our Facebook page is www.facebook.com/WARRNC

Jim Curran - Clear Creek & Moffat HO/HOn3 - Danville, VA

This layout is a combination of D&RGW/D&SL HO standard gauge along with HOn3 portions of the C&S Clear Creek line. The era is 1930 on the narrow gauge and drifts into the 40s on the standard. The narrow gauge portion consists of three scenes, Idaho Springs is depicted in a 2′ x 8″ area and features a scratchbuilt board by board model of the Argo Loading Chutes as well as parts of the downtown area. Black Hawk is narrow at 1′ x 8″ but packed with detail, including a fully scratchbuilt depot with interior detail and over 1000 pieces. Most all of the buildings in this area are either scratchbuilt or heavily kit bashede to match the prototype. There is also a small section that depicts Forks Creek with a scratchbuilt eating house.

The 8′ x 15′ standard gauge portion is a largely freelanced version of the Rio Grande that is an O shaped layout with continuous running. A large portion is a freelanced cityscape of Denver including many kitbashed buildings. The mountain section is 6 x 6 and includes extensive rockwork. There are also scenes that depict Craig CO including a kitbashed refinery and a small yard that represents Salt Lake. Overall the layout is 8′ wide by 20′. Trackwork is code 100 on the standard gauge portion and code 70 on the narrow gauge.

Danville Model Railroad Club - Piedmont Southern Railroad HO - Danville, VA

The Clubs layout is built for Digital Command Control (DCC) operation and utilizes the Digitrax Command Control system. Approximately 535 feet of mainline track winds through the layout rooms, and there are about 900 additional feet of sidings and yards. There are a logging branch with switchbacks, two operating turntables, and a loads in-empties out operation for hopper cars with a coal mine at one end and a paper mill at the other. The layout is almost fully sceniced. The minimum curve radius on the main line is approximately 30 inches. The official time period adopted for the Piedmont Southern is from the Mid – 1940s to the mid 1950s.

Les Knoll - Rivendell & Midland 1:22.5 - Denver, NC

The Rivendell & Midland is a G Scale (1:22.5) outdoor railroad set in a wooded area off Lake Norman in Denver NC. It occupies a 45′ x 50′ area with a 101′ of Aristocraft code 332 mainline and 100′ of code 332 and 250 sidings and branch lines. There are 16 switchcrafters #4 turnouts and two turntables. Water features include two ponds and a waterfall.

Its a 1910-1920 era common carrier with logging and mining traffic, similar to Tennessee’s Little River Railroad. Motive power is all scratchbuilt live steam: a D&RGW style 2-8-0 a Little River style 2-4-4-2, 14 ton Shay, Climax and Heisler. The railroad follows the mythical journey of Bilbo Baggins in J.R. Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings through the City of Rivendell, Moria Mining Company, and the Hobbiton Lumber Company. Its no “whimsical” railroad but an operator’s layout, with point to point operations, facing and trailing switching, and two branch lines.
Most structures are scratchbuilt including the Moria Mining Co., a tribute to Malcolm Furlow’s Saratoga Mine, an ore dock, Hobbiton’s sawmill with full interior, four stall enginehouse, the city of Rivendell and the witch’s hat station at Moria. Structures, switch stands, and street lights are all illuminated, making operations interesting day and night.

Harvey Simon - San Francisco's Muni F Line HO - Boone, NC

This layout is a depiction of San Francisco’s F line trolley system. This line, serviced by vintage trolley cars from cities around the world, is a 12 mile round trip between the Castro district and Fisherman’s Wharf. The layout is small, less than 35 square feet, but is prototypically based as each structure represents an actual building on the F line. The cars themselves get their power from overhead wire, just like the prototype. The Castro district first appeared in the July 2018 issue of Model Railroader. Later this year, the completed layout will be featured in the Great Model Railroads annual issue.