Tuesday, November 23, 2021

A Return to November Interchange

Among the most disappointing losses of organized activities in the COVID era was to learn that the DC-NJ 'November Interchange' in 2020 had been postponed indefinitely.  That weekend, which has been around for more than 7 years now, became a focus of every fall for me and for the 'wisdom keepers' on the Onondaga Cutoff.  

After that hiatus, it is exciting to report that Interchange returned in 2021, arriving in New Jersey to make up for the lost year.  About 22 'boomers' made the trip to operate on any three of 7 available layouts of which the Onondaga Cutoff was one.  The OC hosted 11 guests, who were shown the ropes by 6 of the regulars. 

Here we have noted model railroad author and operator Steve King, one of the founders of the 'ProRail' organization in the 1980's, on a visit to the Onondaga Cutoff once again.  He's the hogger on today's NYS&W interchange move SY-1, a Syracuse-based job that will take freight from Conrail interchnage down to Binghamton, NY.

Meanwhile, one of the most enthusiastic and consistent supporters of the 'OC' is Wayland Moore, a kindred soul from Virginia who has made fast friends with all of us on the OC.  Rich Wisneski as always is a great mentor and guide for the guys as they get their feet on the ground, and wheels rolling.

One of the great parts of Interchange is that a group of guys that haven't seen the railroad much get to work it, and there is a learning curve. But. with operators of this caliber, they come on quickly - and by the halfway point the session is rolling.  Here's Bob Rodriguez of The Nickel City Line hamming it up while Jack and Don work with Jerry Dziedzic to move trains across the main line.  

Another thing about Interchange is the support of all the families to allow it to happen, especially a lot to ask in a COVID recovery year.  Kristen and the kids all dressed the part and were wonderful hosts and helpers, and the session really went off without a major hitch.  

Thanksgiving is here, and I am especially grateful for you as a reader of the blog and for the hobby, for my family and career and good fortune.  I wish you and your family a healthy and happy thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 18, 2021

The Value of Visits: Inspiration & Community

 I was honored in the Autumn of 2021 to have invitations to two trips that I'd hoped for years to be able to do:  the deserts of Utah with Mark Hemphill and the operating model railroads of southern Michigan with the local modelers long part of the 'Great Lakes Getaway' invitational meet.  Thanks to the grace and patience of my family, both were able to happen.  We looked at some of the images from the desert last time, so today we will focus on the layouts.

To say that Mike Burgett's fabulous C&O layout is an inspiration to me would be an understatement.  His work is second to none, and the atmosphere is top-grade:

Meeting Mike was a pleasure - his centralized traffic control (CTC) has always set a high bar for layouts.  And seeing my friend David Patch, Mike's Chief Dispatcher, was an added bonus!  Here's a photo of the three of us in Mike's incredible dispatching office.

Sitting with David Patch to learn the CTC machine and help dispatch the railroad was incredible.  Here's David at the controls:

In the afternoon after lunch, I elected to join the fray in the field and run a few trains.  I ended up with time freight #95 going west across the subdivision.  

It is rare to see a layout with scenery this good that is fully operational and this near full completion.  Wow!

Check out the code lines on the telegraph poles in the photo above. Incredible detail on an incredible layout.

For me, there was another much-anticipated layout: Doug Tagsold's fabulous Colorado & Southern, including the narrow gauge railroad's run from Denver west up to the Georgetown Loop and beyond to the mines in the Front Range.  Here my mine run steps across the Georgetown Loop.

Doug Tagsold has long been an inspiration to me through the pages of Model Railroader with his Denver, Front Range & Western layout in the 1980's as well as his Toledo Terminal layout in the later 1990's.  As my two favorite prototypes, they were well represented in Doug's modeling, and helped add to the aura of fascination I had with modeling in my youth.  These layouts were exciting!  They jumped off the pages and cover of Model Railroader to me.

I met Doug for the first time in 2018 at the Rio Grande Convention in Denver, CO, and was able to speak with him and offer my appreciation for his efforts.  Then for this trip to be able to visit his layout and operate - well, that was just incredible!  

November in the Rockies is much like winter in most other places and Doug has a beautiful snow scene along a rushing mountain stream.  My ore turn is making time on its trip with loaded ore gondolas enroute to Denver to the Arco Smelter.

The town scenes are fantastic too, custom buildings and roads with photo backdrops yield a seamless experience for operations.  I also enjoyed the sight lines around the open running, as seen below here.

Visiting layouts of this caliber shows what the hobby can do, and how much we can learn from people that are truly masters of the art of model railroading.  Someday I'd love to host both of these owners on the Onondaga Cutoff, too, and complete the circle.  I have a long way to go with scenery to match their work!  Still, that is how we build the community of modelers: sharing our work and operations with others, and appreciating the inspiration provided by the masters.  

Thanks to Doug for organizing the meet and to Mike and all the hosts for a job well done!