Just returned from the Layout Design and Operations Weekend, which was held in Tulsa, Oklahoma this weekend. The event was presented by the Indian Nations Division of the NMRA in conjunction with the LDSIG and OPSIG. It was an information-packed trip, with great presentations by Mike Porter, Barry Karlberg, Marc Montray, Jim Senese, and others. The day ended with the opportunity to operate as a Frisco engineer on Jim Senese’s magnificent Kansas City Terminal Layout!
Generally speaking, I am not the type of modeler who gets a great deal of enjoyment trying to replicate the prototype at a specific location with a great deal of historical accuracy. I certainly admire those model railroaders who do, and I enjoy operating on their layouts. That doesn’t mean I completely ignore appropriate rolling stock, locomotives, vehicles, signs, etc. for the era that I model (mid-1970’s). It just means I don’t usually go to great lengths recreating specific industries in specific locations. There will be visitors to my layout, that may get upset that I put a Rexall Chemical company in Sedalia, for example, when I’m sure Rexall did not have a plant in Sedalia, Missouri in the 1970’s, or most likely, ever.
Yesterday’s fine presentations did not fully persuade me to change my ways just yet, but some of the speakers did spur my imagination and cause me to rethink some of what I was doing on the layout. With my first operating session planned for early May, this is probably not the best time to start changing things around, but I am just now starting to make waybills, and it would be silly to make up waybills for industries and locations that I am going to do away with.
I have decided to have the MOP do all the switching at Valley Park, rather than the Frisco, as previously planned. (Valley Park as represented on my layout, was not large enough to accomodate both railroads.) There will be an interchange track at Valley Park, where the Frisco can stop and pick up/drop off cars. The Frisco yard at Springfield will be replaced with a model of a cement plant, using Walthers Valley Cement as the foundation. I am still undecided if this will be an Ash Grove Plant (there really was one here in Springfield, and Ron Williams has built an incredible likeness of it on his layout) or if I’m going to name it after a plant in Festus, Missouri called River City Cement, just because I like the sound of it. What I put together will look like a cement plant, but it’s just not going to look exactly like any specific one. I’m not sure exactly where this plant will supposedly exist geographically. I know exactly where it will be on the layout. The events of this weekend’s talks have me convinced the track plan around the plant should make operational sense, and I do plan on doing that to the best of my ability.
Some day, perhaps after retirement, I may start all over, making better use of what I have learned from my collegues. For now, I will be content to operate on their superb, much more prototypically-acurate layouts, and hope that they will enjoy and excuse my frequent excursions from reality, and tendancy to create and plant industries where there may be no historic evidence to support that they ever existed in that location. I guess the layout name could be changed from Meramec Valley & Pacific Lines to something more appropriate. Maybe I could call it “Lost in Space” or “Out of Time”.