A Visit to
Dale Latham’s HO Scale Piedmont Southern Railroad by
Potomac Division covers a fairly large area around the greater
Washington, DC area. Poolesville, Maryland is in about the farthest
northwest corner of the Division, and Waldorf, Maryland is just about
in the diagonally opposite corner (but not quite!). Thus, a drive from
my house to Dale Latham’s was going to be close to two hours. However,
Dale’s layout is nationally known, and since I had heard so much about
it but had not seen it, I made arrangements to visit it on Saturday,
than drive there alone, I carpooled with three other Potomac Division
members (Tom Brodrick, Marshall Abrams, and Ed Rosado). Carpooling with
others is enjoyable, and we stopped at an IHOP in Waldorf for lunch
before heading on to Dale’s house.
were greeted at the door by both Dale’s wife and Ed McGill, a Division
member that graciously volunteered to be a greeter that afternoon.
After we signed in, we headed to the layout room.
layout room is about 528 square feet, and the layout goes around the
room with a U-shaped island in the middle.
models the Piedmont Southern Railroad set in 1956, which is probably
the prime of the transition era, allowing steam and diesel engines to
share the same tracks. Dale says that the Piedmont Southern is a
fictional railroad running between Richmond, VA., and Connellsville, PA.
I had visited Dale’s layout, Bill Roman told me that Dale was a bit of
a perfectionist, and as such, he was constantly removing and redoing
sections of his layout. Dale said that he actually started working on
the layout in 1978 when he moved into his house. However, he said that
the layout has undergone numerous changes over the years.
railroad was featured in Kalmbach’s “Great Model Railroads” in 2009,
and in their “Art of Model railroading calendar. However, Dale told me
that the current layout doesn’t resemble the layout featured in the
uses Digitrax DCC and several his engines have sound decoders in them.
What I think makes Dale’s layout so nice is the overall balance of the
scenery. As you follow the track plan around the room, Dale has
numerous sidings to service different industries. However, the
buildings associated with these various industries are not overwhelming
or too congested, and convey the feeling of a rural industry. All of
his buildings are excellently built and weathered. Turnouts that are
close to the front of the layout and within easy reach for the aisle
are hand throws from Caboose Industries, whereas turnouts not within
easy reach are motorized.
the distance from where many of the Potomac Division members live, 21
visitors made the trip and got the opportunity to see Dale’s magnificent
you missed seeing Dale’s layout on January 14th, Dale plans to host
another layout tour during the October, 2018 MER convention.