March's double open house in Belair was certainly worth the
started out at Alan Anderson's Kristenville and Micheleville RR where
he models a 1920 steam railroad as it claws its way thru the mountains
of Pennsylvania. The railroad itself is in one large room with
smaller room filled with a town on the edge of a mountain and a third
narrow area filled with a helix and staging.
The main line is standard gauge with all the rural Pennsylvania
industries you can imagine. Sawmills, coal mines, local brewery, local
bar to drink the beer in, lemon soda bottler, hardware and mining
supplier are but a few of the buildings Alan has built and super
The narrow gauge division is primarily a logging enterprise with dual
gauge track up to the main stop. This division has everything from
geared locos to a pile driver with an extremely detailed high line as
the focus of one corner.
A little history lesson is needed to explain the high line. Alan told
me that the railroad was able to hire a rigging boss from Oregon who
devised the high line which increased production tremendously. I should
admit that logging operations have long intrigued me. You could see
every shackle, snatch block, sheave and slack feeder ready to go on
this model. Directly behind the high line is a panoramic picture
of the Canadian north woods that makes you feel as if you are in the
click to see Deve's album
I then drove over to Dave Renard's Sylvania Central RR. This
railroad is loosely based on the Reading which Dave saw growing up
north of Philadelphia. This railroad's time period is the 60 with
diesels lettered for the reading and the Sylvania. Dave is a MMR and
there are some items on the railroad that just amazed me with the
effect he achieved using everyday materials.
The first were the concrete retaining walls and a dam made using built
up strips (styrene, participle board) and then painted with Ralph
Lauren paint. These were simple yet stunning in their effect. Behind
the dam he used a panoramic picture like Alan that gives the dam a just
the right touch. Another treat is the coal tipple that actually loads
real coal into the hoppers and the rotary dumper that unloads them.
One thing that stood out was that the industries on both railroads
seemed to be alive. There were scores of figures on both and the
industries were a part of the railroad and not just buildings put on
the layout. Take the car ferry on the Sylvania as an example. The ferry
is used for operations and what do you see but a man standing in the
center of the tracks directing traffic. Another example is a meat
packer with slabs of beef ready to load. The K&M is the same way.
You have workers on loading docks, men in period clothes, old cars all
around, houses being painted
Both of these railroads will be open for the convention so if you
missed them this time make an effort to see them then.
When you do visit them in the future be sure to take a good look and
see all the detail and humor that went into these two railroads. Look
for "Siesta Motors- cars built while you sleep" or the house painters
that look like they had one too many Yeunglings at lunch.