A Layout Plan

A couple of years back, when my involvement in the hobby came out of dormancy, I didn’t have the space or the interest to build a layout.  It’s looking like that will change, especially with all of that raw potential in the basement.  The space isn’t huge, but it is space nonetheless.  But what to build?  I can’t say exactly, but I have some ideas.

It certainly will be set in the 1970s.  I was a kid in the 70s and my father dragged me around Toronto, KW, Hamilton, Niagara and over to Buffalo to check out trains.  I think I’d like to model a place that I’m familiar with, from that era.  Whatever I build, it will not be  empire sized.  I’ve built a few layouts in the past, and each one stalled when the amount of work required to move them beyond the “plywood central” stage became too much for one person to bear.  My desire to build and operate a very large layout is satisfied in spades by my membership in the WRMRC.

In planning for a home layout, I’m taking cues from the many modest sized layouts I’ve seen and read about in past couple of years.  I visit Trevor Marshall’s layout quite regularly, and this has had a major impact on how I think about home layouts.  I could see myself building something about the same size, but in HO.

I’m very interested in the TH&B, Canada Southern, and former Pere Marquette.  All three converged in Niagara.  During the early 1970s, that meant the possibility of TH&B, Penn Central and C&O/Chessie in one place.  Operations in and around Niagara Falls Ontario and Niagara Falls New York take this one step farther.  Lehigh Valley ran regular transfers from their yard in Niagara Falls NY (Suspension Bridge) across the Niagara Gorge and into the CN yard on the Canadian side.  Moving just a mile or two into New York from Suspension Bridge, one would find yards for Penn Central, Lehigh Valley, Erie Lackawanna, and the electric switching operation Niagara Junction.

Looking at the other border crossing at Fort Erie Ontario and Black Rock (Buffalo) New York, one would lose the Lehigh Valley but gain the N&W’s former Wabash operations on the Canadian side (TH&B trains operated along the former NYC Niagara Branch through Black Rock on the American side).

I can envision building a layout the represents a couple of miles of railroad, strategically selected so that I can replicate the actual trains that ran through while also providing a modest industrial scene.  There are some places in the Niagara Frontier where this happens.  I’ll be exploring those as possible prototypes for my future layout.

At this point, I consider TH&B and Penn Central to be firmly planted into the plan.  Everything else is a wildcard at this point.  The prototype location I choose to model has to have at least those two railways.  Adding more to the mix on a modest sized layout would be a welcome bonus.  The search is on.

I’ve collected a few pieces toward my ultimate goal.  Here’s the most recent.  I’ll give you my thoughts tomorrow.




  1. “Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably will not themselves be realized.” Daniel Burnham
    Wishing you the best of luck as you decide what to model.


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