East of the Blue Ridge

Chronicles of an On30 quarry railroad

The GP&C Remembered - VI



It’s April again, and that means it is time to dig out some more photos of Dan George’s HO scale Spring Creek Lumber Company layout.

The Greenbrier & Pocahontas Central was abandoned and dismantled in April of 2005.


Rainetown was in a corner of the lower level of Dan’s layout, at the bottom of the helix that connected the lower track to the upper level.


Various hidden bypass, connecting, and cutoff tracks all emerged at Rainetown, resulting in a long line of tunnel portals. Dan filled the scene with a concentration of visual decoys to divert attention away from the unrealistic series of tunnel entrances.


Some of his diversionary tactics were rather crude, but most were amazing scratchbuilt structures bristling with detail and activity.


All this eye candy had the effect of inviting close attention to Rainetown, rather than diverting attention away.


Experiencing scenes like Rainetown on Dan’s layout was very disruptive to my notions of model railroading at the time. I first started visiting Dan and operating on his layout in the late 1990s. At the time I had just finished a detached shop building that had a studio space to be dedicated to a model railroad layout. I had enjoyed countless hours of designing the layout, and more countless hours of visualizing how the layout would operate and the traffic flow. But the actual construction of the layout was not something I spent a lot of time day dreaming about. I thought of layout construction as an awkward gestation period that could not be avoided.


Dan’s layout was a sprawling testament to a different set of priorities for building a model railroad. It illustrated how a model railroad could be an excellent vehicle for displaying craft and an interest in industrial history if the construction phase of the project was approached with the same creative and innovative thought that I was only willing to apply to design.


Still smarting from the expense of building my shop, I felt obligated to build the best layout I could, and saw Dan’s layout as the definitive reference point. It came as a huge disappointment when trying to adopt a new priority for layout construction caused me to freeze like a deer in the headlights. On a superficial level, I had bought into a new approach to the hobby, buy I still had deep preconceived notions that were telling me that this new approach was not appropriate. Much hand wringing and journaling ensued. I searched for an approach to the problem that would help me make progress on my East Blue Ridge layout. Eventually I realized that this new approach I was struggling to come up with was already a well-worn path called
design thinking, with many helpful resources available on the Internet.