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.
©Bernard Kempinski All text and images, except as noted, on this blog are copyrighted by the author and may not be used without permission.

August 15, 2021

Floods Averted and other Updates

The Smoke Bush (tree?) in our backyard did not survive the storm last night

Readers of this blog are probably familiar  with the City of Alexandria's continuing struggle with flooding. Alexandria has had some extremely heavy rain on several occasions this year. Last night was another sustained and heavy rain that dropped about 4 inches of water over two hours. Several zones in the city experienced flooding.  I am happy to report that the flood control measures we adopted have been successful and our basement stayed dry, as did most of my neighbors. However, just a couple blocks 
City Sheriff Lawhorne stands in the flooded
alley behind his house a few blocks from ours.
from my house, there was significant flooding.

I learned that our drain pipes will need periodic maintenance. The pop-up emitter on the main exhaust pipe was clogged with the a collection of samaras, or maple tree seeds, the kind we called helicopters as a kid. There are no maple trees near our gutters, so these are propelled by wind onto the roof where the rain collected them in the gutters. Perhaps we need some kind of gutter filters. 

Over the past two weeks I have conducted two zoom seminars on railroads of the civil war. The first was for the John W. Barriger III National Railroad Library at the  St. Louis Mercantile Library, University of Missouri - St. Louis. Next John Ott discussed early locomotive builders, and then Nick Fry covered the history of early railroads in Missouri.  You can watch all three presentations at the following link, 

The second presentation of the same subject was to the Cincinnati Division of the NMRA.
I am scheduled to do two more presentations in the coming weeks. The next will be on August 22 to the Potomac Division and another one at a date to be determined to the Louisville Division of the NMRA. 

I have been working on a model for the new Museum of Freedom in Alexandria. This will be a model of the slave jail that existed in Alexandria before the war. I'll provide an update on that later.


  1. I immediately though of your basement when I heard about the flooding, glad to hear that things stayed dry.

  2. I was wondering how the new drainage would fair when I heard Alexandria had some big time flash flooding this weekend. Glad it stayed dry. You didn't need more bad news on top of MARPM being cancelled.

  3. Bernie,

    I have an off topic question as I was reading through some of the USMRR archives. In the hope that I can start a Sn3 TOC layout, I wondered if your working brake mechanism could be applied to a smaller scale like Sn3? Thank you for your reply.

    Jeff Mrock

    1. Possibly. The cars in the ACW only had brakes on one truck. More modern cars have hand brakes and air brakes. It depends on the era you are modeling. S scale is 75% of O scale, so the parts would be smaller and more difficult to adjust.

    2. Thanks for the reply Bernie. I should have clarified TOC=turn of the century, or in this case a free-lance 1880's? layout that interchanges with the DSP&P &D&RG. I have come to realize that a nice rendition of the RGS in Sn3 probably won't happen, so will focus on something smaller, and your fine layout inspired me that I could enjoy such early railroad history.

      So, I might even try link and pin couplers, and will try and verify if these early cars had brakes for one truck or both. Thanks again