Welcome to the HO scale Pennsylvania RR Middle Division in Juniata County, PA, the narrow guage (HOn3) Tuscarora Valley RR and East Waterford & Kansas Valley logging line, and the HOn30 tramway of the Van Dyke Silica Brick Company. The year is 1950 and many of the scenes on this layout are based on prototypes found at that time in Juniata County, located astride the Juniata River in south central Pennsylvania.
The PRR needs no introduction. It arrived in Juniata County in 1849 and remains today the principle route of Conrail from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh. The layout has two principle areas in which PRR prototype scenes are modeled. The town of Port Royal, with the bridge over the tracks, the PRR station, and freight house are selectively compressed models of the real thing. The PRR never had a dual-guage interchange with the TuV RR, but the operational possibilities were too good to pass up. The other prototype scene (again selectively compressed) is the coal wharf at Denholm. The actual installation spanned twelve tracks and operated from 1909 until its demolition in 1960.
The Tuscarora Valley RR was an actual n.g. pike that existed from 1893-1934, connecting Port Royal with Blairs Mills, 27 miles to the south. All the place names on the TuV portion of the layout were actual stations on the railroad (although I have altered their order). The principle industries were the phosphate plant at Ross Farm and the lumber mill at East Waterford, where the unincorporated East Waterford & Kansas Valley logging railroad actually supplied the mill with logs.
While a number of the areas modeled (such as the buildings in Port Royal, East Waterford, and Blairs Mills) will be close to the prototype, there are many features of the TuV which I will "imagi-neer" on the assumption that the n.g. pike was still active in 1950. Using the neighboring East Broad Top RR as an indication of eastern n.g. practice in 1950, I have made the yard in Port Royal mostly dual-guage. The track layout in Port Royal is about 50% prototypical, the changes being made mainly for space utilization and operational reasons.
In addition there are two imaginary interchange points with other narrow guage neighbors of the TuV. At Blairs Mills, I have established an interchange with the EBT, something that almost happened in the 1890's. This allows for interesting operating patterns and also allows me to logically use some favorite EBT equipment on the layout. Also there is an interchange at Spruce Hill with the Newport & Shermans Valley RR, another actual narrow guage (1892-1935) that considered building a connection with the TuV. This allows a N&SV train to utilize trackage rights and interchange with the TuV. Eventually the N&SV will operate its own 2-6-0, complete with Belpaire firebox.
The PRR motive power is generally right for 1950 and allows for operation of a prototypical mix of diesel and steam. All four main-line tracks are separately controlled by walk-around throttles with memory, allowing for lots of action. Track One is designed to allow for switching at Denholm, onto the coal wharf, and in Port Royal. Track Four can switch the ash track/siding at Denholm and the Van Dyke Silica Brick Co. Tracks Three and Four feed into a four-track hidden staging yard under Denholm and the brick company.
The TuV motive power and rolling stock is a mix. Engine #2 is a kit-bashed approximation of the actual TuV Baldwin 4-6-0 built in 1915. Many of its details are based on the prototype. Engine #278, a Baldwin C-16, was so recently purchased from the D&RGW (that's a fake on the bridge at Cimarron) that the TuV hasn't had time to repaint more than the tender. Such an engine actually ran on the TuV c.1911. Hopefully, these two engines will be joined by a Baldwin #3, a 4-4-0 actually delivered in 1916.
In the realm of pure fiction, I have imagined that the TuV took its combine #103 and converted it to a gas-mechanical car now called M103 The actual prototype was such a car built for the narrow guage Lancaster, Oxford & Southern and still in existence at Strasburg. Finally, imagine that the GE 44-tonners were purchased in the late 1940's to move standard guage cars around Port Royal and the brick yard (they're actually left from an earlier layout).
The n.g. cars are mostly kitbashed but since the TuV and the N&SV (like many eastern n.g. pikes) bought most of their rolling stock second hand, almost anything looks right. The car numbering is based on the TuV's and N&SV's actual roster practive.
The HOn30 tramway of the Van Dyke Silica Brick Co. is fictional, although such a brick company actually did operate in Juniata County. The tramway is based on those that served the brick companies in Mt. Union. The line is operable and will take ganister stone from the quarry at the summit of Tuscarora Mtn. to the processing plant. In addition, the tramway will deliver coal to the hand-fired brick kilns.
Standard Guage -
The PRR portion of the layout is primarily "moving scenery" - that is, most trains will simply run continuously on the four parallel loops of tracks. As per actual PRR practice, tracks one and two (usually the inside two tracks) are for eastbound movements, while tracks three and four (usually the tracks closest to the viewer) are for westbound trains. Trains on tracks one and four will be able to switch local industries and railroad facilities. The eastbound local in reality originated from Lewistown yard and ran as train M18. On its return it ran as M19. All locals on this layout will originate and terminate at Denholm.
In addition, there is provision for the eastbound local passenger train to drop off and pick up a milk car from the Breyer Ice Cream creamery in Port Royal for delivery to Philadelphia.
Each of the four PRR tracks is controlled by a separate power system. Tracks two, three, and four currently have walk-around throttles with limited memory, with plug-ins at Denholm, Port Royal, and Wall Tower. PRR track one has a full function walk-around throttle with plug-ins at the same locations.
While there are cross-overs at each end of the Denholm complex, they are actually rarely used in operation. Turnouts in Port Royal which are dual- or narrow-guage are all controlled by twin-coils from the track diagram on the fascia board. Most are power routing. The Atlas code 100 switches are literally hand-thrown, as are a few PECOs. The hand-laid code 70 turnouts in the brick yard are thrown by slide switches. They are also power routing.
The Port Royal yard can be operated by one of three power systems, selected by the rotary switch on the plug-in panel -- PRR track one, the TuV, or AUX, thus allowing for maximum operation. The brick yard can also be operated by either PRR track four power system or AUX.
Narrow Guage (HOn3) -
The TuV is operated as a point-to-point pike, with turning capacity at both ends. Trains originating at Blairs Mills complete their runs at Port Royal and vice versa. N&SV trains enter the TuV main at Spruce Hill, run to Port Royal, and return. Operation will probably involve two northbound and two southbound trains a day on the TuV, with one N&SV train each way. Further details TBA. The logging line will probably operate two trains up and back each day, one of which will pick up/drop off a hopper at te minehead above the Denholm scrap yard. PLEASE NOTE - The tail tracks of the switchbacks allow no more than three cars and an engine to operate.
The TuV and the loggin branch (operated by a n.g. kit-bashed Climax) are independently controlled by full function walk-around memory throttles. Plug-ins for the TuV system are at Blairs Mills, Spruce Hil, and Port Royal. Plug-ins for the EW&KV are at Blairs Mills, Spruce Hill, and Wall Tower. The yard area at Blairs Mills is available to both, using the toggle switch on the Blairs Mills plug-in panel.
The logging switch-backs beyond the trestle are controlled solely by te EW&KV system. The higher switches on the switchbacks are operated from the track diagram on the fascia board. The TuV main line north of East Waterford is controlled solely by the TuV system. Turnouts are mainly controlled by slide or paddle switches and are power routing.
Operation is by car-cards. The layout could be operated by four people, three doing running and switching while the fourth monitors the through trains on the Pennsy.
Bowser H9s, Penn Line I1sa, Penn Line K4s, Bowser M1a, Bowser T1.
Athern BLW S-12, Athern A-A set of Alco PA's in DGLE with five stripes, E7's (A-B-A) with Hobbytown bodies and P2000 drives, P2000 E8's (A-A) in Tuscan 5-stripe, Model Power Sharks (A-B-B-A) in DGLE with 5-stripes, AHM FM C-Liners (A-B-A) w/modified Athern drives in DGLE with single stripes, and Athern F7's w/P2000 drives in Tuscan (I know, I'm cheating on FP7's).
Here are some photos.
Here is a full photo album.
I enjoy visitors so folks are welcome to drop me an e-mail if they want to see things first hand.