About The Layout

The Niagara Branch was an important piece of the New York Central Railroad that provided a connection between their New York –  Chicago mainline (the Water Level Route) and a border crossing into Canada at Niagara Falls. This blog chronicles the research and construction of my HO scale model railroad depicting the town of North Tonawanda New York, a small but busy location on the Niagara Branch, in the early- to mid-1970s.

Strictly speaking, I’m modelling the Penn Central era (February 1, 1968 to April 1, 1976). However, I feel that I’m drawn to the second half of that period, so I’m giving consideration to narrowing the focus to something like 1972-1976. I might already be subconsciously doing that when I reflect on the rolling stock I’ve started to collect. My layout is essentially a one-town operation where through trains run from staging to staging and pass through North Tonawanda. The signature industry on my layout is the International Paper plant on Tonawanda Island. My approach to the hobby can be categorized under the rubric of “prototype” modelling, but I’m also very committed to keeping the construction of the layout moving forward. So, while I do a great deal of research into the historically correct industries, traffic patterns, structures, and equipment, I’ll forge ahead with the best informed guess that I can muster when detailed information is lacking, . I’m fine with going back over the layout to tighten up the details and correct any errors as time permits. Basically, I want to keep moving forward at all times.

I haven’t spent much time in North Tonawanda, so I’m not an authority on its history, or that of the Penn Central. This is an ongoing process, and I enjoy learning as much as modelling. There’s lots of content here, so I hope you dig through it and take the time to share your impressions and insights.