December 27, 2015

Back in Ole Virginny

Having spent the past week zipping around the country, it is good to be back in Ole Virginny. While I didn't get to work on the layout over the Christmas break, several interesting other things happened.

The first happened in Rochester, Minnesota. My wife and I where wandering through the underground walkways that connect most of the downtown buildings in Rochester. Strangely enough, they call these underground walkways the "skyway." (OK, there are some elevated parts, but it seems to mostly be underground.)  I wandered into an art shop while AW was looking at a woman's clothes shop. I noticed a book on the counter that was about the 1st Minnesota Regiment, a unit that needs no introduction to students of the civil war.

The woman who ran the shop, Ms Sharon Krom, told me that she and her husband, Richard, wrote the book based on 218 letters Edward H. Bassett sent home during his three year enlistment. This got my attention. Lately I have been reading as much original civil war material and memoirs as I can find. Having read a good number of summaries and strategic analyses, I am finding the original material much more interesting and rewarding to read.

So I opened the 719 page book to a random place and started reading. The first letter I saw was written from Falmouth, April 1863. Just the time that I am modeling. A quick flick through the pages showed dozens of letters from this period. I knew I had to get the book, despite not knowing if it would fit in my luggage.

As I headed to the cash register, Richard Krom, Mrs. Krom's husband arrived. We had a very pleasant chat about the book and their efforts to collect the letters. It seems that the letters were scattered across the country and the couple had to spend considerable effort to gather them. The letters have been transcribed to printed text for ease in reading. There is a small amount of text written by the Kroms placed between the letters to put the letters in context. As I purchased the book, Richard, Sharon and their son James, signed my copy.

I am not quite finished reading the book, but I am really enjoying reading it.  It reminds me a lot of Leander Stillwell's memoirs and Wilbur Fisk's Letters from "Hard Marching Every Day." I will do a full review when I finish the book, but based on what I read so far, I highly recommend it.

I also read another interesting book over the break called the "Tugboats of New York," by George Matteson.  This book is a richly illustrated history of New York tugboat activity. Although the book has dozens of fine art quality black and white prints, the text is quite good and very informative.  There is a fascinating chapter on tugs in the civil war.  I borrowed this copy from the library, but I plan to get a copy for my personal library.

When I got back to Virginia, the test samples of my photo etched stainless steel HO scale chain link fences with barbed wire and gates were waiting for me. The test etches look great and I will be offering these for sale in January via Alkem Scale Models.

Finally, I noticed tonight that Minitrains (in Germany) has announced a Baldwin 2-6-2 HOn2 (they call it HOe and OO9). I have not seen the loco for sale anywhere. I wonder what its status is? They are also offering American box cars, flat cars, and gondolas, all with Pershing trucks. With this loco and freight cars. and the forthcoming 4-6-0 from Bachmann, a WWI narrow gauge RR is more easily modeled. I may have to reconsider my next project. Hmmmm......


  1. Greetings from Rochester.

    I hope your visit to town was pleasant (Not going to say 'enjoyable' 'cause no one ever comes here for pleasure.). Don't know who said the underground bits where the skyway... No one I've met calls them that. We have skyways, but skyways are skyways and subways are least to us...

    Anyways, I have long enjoyed your blog!


    1. I guess I was noticing the signs that said "skyway" but ended up taking us to the "subway."

      We had an enjoyable visit as my wife is from there and we visited family.

  2. Bernie, at this moment Minitrains says on their website "available from stock". So.... you may start your new project although I might steal your idea ;)

    Grtz, Ronald.

    1. They are available for sale in the US at about $160US. Each car costs about $30. I have not purchase one yet, but reviews on the various Narrow Gauge websites has been positive.

    2. What type of project are you planning?

    3. Too many.... a WWI is something I would consider..... if you see what is available for that. The English market has a lot, you could build a small exhibition style layout for not too much.

      I would consider something with some planes and a overall WWI atmosphere. Scale 1:72/76 combined eventually with 1:87. 1:35 is also very tempting, today I had in my hands the Revell 1:35 figure set of WWI. Only problem here is the availabilaty of rolling stock but that could be scratchbuild.

    4. Something else to consider. HO scale track is about 20 inches in 1/32nd scale. So a 1/32nd scale WWI layout could be made with HO mechanisms. Scalelink has rolling stock in that scale too.

    5. I considered that too..... figure, rolling stock, everything is there to model a fine layout. Mmmmmm...... ;)

  3. Hello!
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  4. If you like WW1 US ARMY Railroads, please, have a look there: