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Tony Koester's Nickel Plate Road layout.

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I was a big fan of Tony Koester's Train of Though Column and modelling when I took up American modelling while living in the UK in the late 80s and quite disappointed when he abandoned the Allegheny Midland to model the Nickle Plate in the Mid West in 2000.  I was attracted to mountain railroading in the Appalachians and started building a layout and even visited the railway in the area in the late 1990s before experiencing a similar epiphany when I visited family in the mid-West in the early 2000s.

Although there had been a lot of rationalisation, similar operating conditions to the 1950s continued to exist in some of the grain growing areas of the Mid West with both Class 1 and Short Line railroads continuing to serve relatively small local industries (Grain Elevators, LPG depots, Ethanol Plants, Flour Mills) Class 1s continued to interchange with Short Lines by setting out and picking up cuts of cars at junctions. 

TWC (Track Warrant Control) had replace Telegraph and Train Order in Dark Territory full size railroads essentially adapting model railroad practice with the Dispatcher instructing the Engineer directly by 2 way radio rather than through a local Operator  or Agent (equivalent to a porter/signalman in Ireland or UK)

Although my small scale American modelling has been on the back burner for several years, I have a collection of typical Mid-Western grain elevators and some grain cars if I ever get the urge, time or space to build an American small scale layout.

While the sheer scale of an American Basement empire is out of reach of many modellers some of the design principals for a prairie railroad the use of backscenes and narrow baseboards between linking sections are equally applicable in an Irish context particularly for modelling a the MGWR & GSWR lines that cross the Central Plain and Bog of Allen. 

The American style operating layout with formal operating sessions with multiple operators was once common in the UK and Ireland, with layouts like Sam Carse's Donegal, Drew Donaldson's CIE layout and Norman Eagles Sherwood Section of the LMS, now appear to be very rare with fewer people apparently having space for a large layout and the focus on building exhibition layouts.

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