May 20, 2007
Railroader Monroe Stewart's Hooch Junction has been featured in several
national magazines and in a Great Model Railroads video. The HJ
is predominantly an Appalachian coal hauler with a special emphasis on
water scenes including the typical rivers of this part of the country,
plus a large harbor. The N scale layout features CSX and Norfolk
Southern trains paralleling each other from east coast harbors to the
coal fields. Even though the layout has about 2,000 feet of track, the
fabulous scenery is not crowded. The layout is never static, more water
scenes seem to pop up in the aisles and even structures are updated
with urban renewal.
Monroe continually redesigns the layout to maximize
his enjoyment of trains and ships. Numerous scratchbuilt ships "float"
in the ever expanding harbors. His training as an architect and
engineer helps Monroe keep changing the layout. He even designed his
house to fit this dream railroad. Yet he rarely does any research
before building a structure. He builds what he sees in his mind by
breaking down complex, massive structures into geometric shapes. While
this approach may not work for everyone, it works for Monroe. He says
we don't need building instructions for what we can see. Many of the
industries are named for Monroe's friends and fellow model
railroaders. Careful and thorough painting and weathering capture
the look of a range of new and old structures.
Hooch Junction fills a 20' x 40' room and spills out
into a 6' x 10' Hooch heavy industry area. This is one of the world's
best N gauge layouts and is not to be missed. Monroe keeps upgrading
the layout. Horseshoe Curve was bulldozed in and a neat polluting
industry was added above the old reservoir. An even more recent
modification involves the removal of a mountain, and the conversion of
this space to staging yards.
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