October 6, 2012

Civil War Railroad Road Show Update

Gerry and I have been working on a plan for a Civil War Railroad Road Show. What is that?

  • What? An O Scale British style exhibition layout featuring a small terminal switching district (see Chris Nevard's blog for some good examples)
  • Why? A fun project to promote ACW model railroading and educate
  • How? A small sectional switching layout executed to a museum quality level with integral valance, backdrop, lighting, fascia and fiddle yard
  • When? First show NMRA 2013, Atlanta, GA
  • Topic?  See below
Our immediate objective is to debut it at the NMRA National Show in Atlanta 2013. However, we have contacted several other venues and they have expressed interest in having it on display including the Alexandria Lyceum, Ft Ward, The Collingwood Museum and perhaps the B&O Museum.  

With that kind of display itinerary in mind we considered and researched several possible themes for the layout. The foremost important parameter was  manageability in terms of size, complexity and schedule. We also wanted the layout to entail an engaging story that would both promote the hobby of ACWRR modeling plus educate the less motivated viewer

The need to keep it manageable and in O scale limited us to a terminal depot-switching type plan. We could not come up with a loop or wye design that we felt was manageable. We considered many possible themes with these getting the most consideration.

 In the end we decided on a generic western river scene borrowing elements from several locations especially Cairo, IL, Columbus, KY, Johnsonville and Bridgeport, TN. We call this location Columbus Landing.

In our construct, Columbus  Landing is a river front terminal port on a tributary of the Mississippi River where the US Army Quartermaster has established a landing for their cargo ships and the USMRR has rebuilt an existing rail line destroyed by the confederates.  This line supplies an unspecified Western Union army that could be in Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi or Arkansas. 

This mock-up convinced us that this design was too big.
We considered several plans even proceeding to the point of building a small mock-up of one of the more promising plans. But in the end, we went with a smaller and simpler design as shown above. 

One feature we had to give up was the ability to turn engines via a wye or turntable. But several prototype railroads in this period also had no way to turn their engines at one or the other so we were not stretching things. With the short train lengths we are considering, backing a cut of cars will not be an issue.

The following are some images of scenes that we seek that inspired us. We want to include some representation of the river craft as we believe this is an important aspect of the story we want to tell. We felt it more important to include the river boat over a turntable.

The Muddy Creek section will feature a USMRR prefabricated bridge. There were many of these in service across the western railroads. The Columbus Landing sections borrow heavily from Cairo with some elements from other locations included too.

Now that we have a design, work will begin soon.

River scene near Chattanooga, TN

Illinois Central terminal in Cairo, IL

Sutler's Row n Chattanooga, TN

Supply depot at Johnsonville, TN

1 comment:

  1. Hi Bernie:
    It looks like a great project. As far as turning goes, I know of a couple of small branchline terminals on the Canadian National Railway here in southern Ontario that had no turning facilities. Trains - even in the 1950s - simply backed out.
    At one location - Kincardine, Ontario - the terminal was stub-end, but there was a wye just up the line from the station area. Trains were backed out of the terminal, turned on the wye, and returned to the terminal before loading to leave on their scheduled time. You could certainly represent that if you don't mind fiddling the consists while in staging...
    I'm looking forward to following your progress on this project. Thanks for sharing it online!