Marshall Abrams'
Abrams Railroad Empire
May 4, 2003

The Abrams Railroad Empire (ARE) is a 20 foot by 22 foot walk-around HO layout. The focus is on moving cars among the 21 industries, 5 yards, 7 towns, and 2 interchange tracks using a car card scheme and DCC control. There is no prototype, rather it models the "Anachronistic Era." Click here to visit the ARE home page. The ARE is designed using CadRail. It is built almost exactly as designed. Many industry names are puns or personal references.

The ARE car movements are directed using car cards to simulate the movement of freight among industries. Local trains run from Babel Yard to industries and towns and back to Babel. Local switchers serve Vienna and Carnegie, interchanging cars with the locals from Babel. Through freights run between Babel and Marshal Yards. Marshal, in turn, interchanges freight cars with the world beyond the walls via the Westmoreland Railroad and the Providence & Worcester Railroad. The Westmoreland interchange track is connecting to Marshal Yard and serviced by a local locomotive provided by the Westmoreland.  The Providence & Worcester is a staging track. Both Westmoreland and Providence & Worcester are hidden tracks visible from Marshal by a mirror hung from the ceiling. Passenger trains follow a time table by the fast clock on the wall that runs about 7 times faster than normal.

Train control is by Digitrax Digital Command Control (DCC). Operations are walk-around with the engineer following the train. Jacks to plug in the throttles are located around the layout. Any throttle can control any train. Two kinds of switch machines are used. Tortoise slow motion machines are used in the towns of Marshal, Carnegie, Carol Gardens, Bergen, and New Rochelle. They are activated on the control panels with a toggle switch. The handle of the switch indicates the direction the turnout is thrown. LEDs confirm the setting, powered through the stall motor. Twin coil switch machines, Kemtron and NJ International, are used elsewhere. They are activated by push buttons on the panels with LEDs showing the setting.

The ARE operates as part of a round-robin group, called the Anachronistic Region, located primarily in Montgomery County, Maryland. Operations occur every Tuesday night at a different layout. If you're interested in participating, send email to

The ARE uses several neat ideas that may be of interest to other modelers. The following pictures are selected from those avaiable at the ARE (click to visit).

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