So, why did I choose Lewistown as the focal point of my new model railroad?
I have always enjoyed main line railroading and the Pennsy's four-track main line is a favorite. I like large engine facilities. I've really come to enjoy yard drilling, thanks to operating sessions on Steven Mallery's PRR Buffalo Line. I like industry switching, thanks in large part to operating on Bob Martin's Central Pennsylvania Rail Road. The only problem is, my basement isn't that large, and it has "design obstacles".
Since I was a very young boy travelling to Penn State football games, I was always fascinated by a winding branch line out of Lewistown extending through Burnham and on to Milroy. In later years, I discovered that was the PRR's Milroy Secondary. When I began pondering a setting for my new model railroad, the Milroy Secondary was placed on the short list.
The connection of the Milroy Secondary to the PRR system was at Lewistown Junction. This provided an adequate yard opportunity, plus a vignette of main line running.
I was initially discouraged by the locomotive facilities Lewistown would provide. Nearly all steam was prohibited on the Milroy Secondary, even though the engine terminal was substantial. I wanted variety of steam! What puzzled me was all of the photos of M1's at Lewistown. Why were they there if they couldn't run the branch? I learned that the Lewistown facility was charged with maintaining "stand by" power for the mainline, and also provided "en route" servicing between Enola-Harrisburg and Altoona. This also explained the justification for the 120' turntable which otherwise only needed to turn H-class consolidations. So, this facility could provide me with the loco facility I desired!
Directly behind the Lewistown yard was the American Viscose Company. This rayon plant employed over 3,000 people and required switching out twice a day!
The Lewistown Secondary, a short stretch between the Lewistown yard and the Milroy Secondary, provides a section of street running and a small "downtown" yard.
Up the Milroy Secondary was Standard Steel. This plant had over 2,000 employees and brought in raw steel for fabricating into railroad car wheels and steam locomotive drivers. For quite some time, nearly 100% of their product went to Baldwin at Philadelphia. I'm told that through the 1950's they turned approximately 30 cars a day... mostly wood-floored gondolas.
Farther up the branch, in Naginey, Bethlehem Steel owned a very large limestone quarry. This customer produced about 50 loads of stone a day through the 1950's. Most, but not all, of the limestone went to Bethlehem's steel plant in Johnstown, Pa. Limestone went out in primarily H21a and H25 hoppers.
There were many other online customers... and about 150 carloads a day. Not bad for a 15 mile branch! With the Lewistown yard and the main line represented, my druthers seem to be met!
In other topics I will discuss the evolution of the layout plan. Please share your thoughts and experiences.