A journal following the history, design, construction and operation of Bernard Kempinski's O Scale model railroad depicting the U. S. Military Railroad (USMRR) Aquia-Falmouth line in 1863, and other model railroad projects.
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February 21, 2021

One Versus Two Bridges?

I installed the benchwork and roadbed for the expansion as the track departs Stares Tunnel. The curves are 36 inch radius minimum, though the curve just as the track departs the tunnel is mostly eased to a much greater radius. The flow is nice and smooth. Turns out the grade in the tunnel is greater than in this visible section, so there isn't that much more to worry about. 
Now I need to decide if I want one long trestle or two smaller bridges separated by a short section of cut through a hill. 

I did two concept sketches using Photoshop to show how both might look. The comparison photos are below. Which do you like better- one long trestle, or two short bridges with a short cut in between?How about both, that is have the long trestle, but have some trees in the marsh in the middle foreground. The trees would help break up the scene, but still allow the long vista.

The compromise solution - long trestle with a slight rise in the middle with some trees.


  1. A long bridge with a couple of trees in the marsh in the middle foreground gets my vote.

  2. I think two short trestles could work, but they would have to be different in some way to avoid it looking like a repeat. Maybe one could be a trestle over open water and the other could be a trestle over a stagnant reed-filled marsh or ox-bow lake.

    The trees in the middle could also work, though I suspect trees would also line the edge of the water ways anyway as the ground there would be too wet for agriculture.

    Either way, I think the more scenic elements you have the grater the apparent distance covered and conversely one long structure will have the effect of shortening the apparent distance.

  3. I like the two trestle version but am not convinced you need to bring the fascia up too high in the middle to divide the scene. I also like the trees in there, to facilitate the scenic division and make the run seem longer, just not with too high a vertical fascia bump. Modeling both a swamp like area and also a stream seems like a very interesting composition. You will no doubt make the correct decision once you think on it some more and compare the different mock up photos. What you have right now looks pretty nifty for the future build.

  4. Bernie - Maybe you need to decide what the topography is before how you will traverse it. What is the nature of the water feature?

    Is it a stream that has a boggy marsh on one side or both? Or Just a part of a small pond with marsh? Fresh water or tidal? Where does it originate? Does it go all the way back into the backdrop? If there is a flowing stream is it deep or shallow?

    I also like having some trees in front of the rails. The marsh would likely have some dead tree trunks.

    My two cents.

  5. I like the long tressel with a tree break in the center.

  6. I like Gerald's suggestion of a lower fascia bump with trees giving the vertical screen. The winter trees still allow the train to be seen. After all, we all love watch trains! Either way will look great, I am sure!

  7. I agree fully with the remarks about the fascia height. The mock-ups where it is higher add a distraction to a busy (trestle bentwork) scene. I noticed it immediately and felt the view was blocked. Keep it low and let the trestle and marsh shine.

  8. They are all good but I like the high fascia (photo 1). I think that people will shift their position to get a good view on each side of the fascia and that may make the run feel longer.

  9. I think you should go with whichever one Alicia prefers ...

  10. I like less fascia, I also find the version with more of the marshland to more indicative of the Tidewater area, it feels more familiar and briny. It is also a form of scenery less common to model railroading that will help signal you are out of the hills and into the coastal area; a chance to model something quite different.