Nick Kalis's
LIRR - Lower Montauk Branch
November 6, 2005

Many a commuter has coursed through parts of the L.I.C. yards on their respective journeys to the East River tunnels and on into Manhattan.  Nick Kalis's efforts have created a city yard and switching layout nestled in the confines of Long Island City on the East River in Queens County, New York. Although primarily a commuter line, industries and consumers need raw materials, deliveries, shipping and the varied requirements only a railroad can provide.

The LIC was captured in all its run down brick and concrete glory.  As yard life goes on, real life continues on the various bridges and promenades around his layout room.  Set up along two sides and the back, a peninsula bringing continued industrial life directs itself from the back as well.  This creates a large "E" shaped layout, allowing its operator's entry within the building lined tracks.

Although his layout appears complete, with track and scenery, rebuilding several buildings and scenes is occupying his time. Several years ago, a trip to Long Island City and the yard areas occurred.  Many pictures and cryptic notes were assembled for future endeavors.  Buildings were drawn and annotated for future construction, although in a smaller 1/87 scale.

While all LIRR freights ran as extra movements not listed in the timetable, freights did operate on a schedule. Throughout most of the 1960s, most LIRR yard jobs worked seven-days-a-week. LIRR symbols are: LIC - Long Island City; trains with the letter prefix MA (Metropolitan Area). receive their second classification at Long Island City or Fresh Pond and dispatched from that point. The second classification then becomes the "freight" we see along the way. With few exceptions, all LIRR freights are in reality locals. Drill - LIRR parlance for a switching job.

Nick picked an area to model that could be represented without undue compression in the space available. With the exception of Blissville, this entire modeled railroad is Long Island City. Long Island City was once an independent city until Queens County, where it is located, was absorbed by New York City circa 1898. The Montauk Cutoff, a prominent feature of this layout, was built to overpass the Long Island's Main Line leading to New York's East River Tunnels (not modeled). While the Long Island's Eight Street Yard was in operation into the 1970s, space limitations prohibited its being modeled except as one track. Modeled industry spot numbers follow prototype LIRR practice. Crews must operate at restricted speeds and be able to stop within half the distance of their visibility.

Operating on the layout, the engineer merely locates a Digitrax throttle and plugs in for a seamless operation schedule.  Car cards allow equipment to be picked up and redelivered as needed in the yard. Directing those early Alcos and Geeps, the Long Island delivers its freight!

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