East of the Blue Ridge

Chronicles of an On30 quarry railroad

G&PC - Notes after the "Town Job" 2

January 2, 2004

Running trains on Dan George's beautiful layout is a very effective form of recreation. Continuing on with the construction of my DF&G layout could result in a nice layout, but will it be the layout I want to build? Which is ... what? A scenic masterpiece? An operational challenge? A typical shortline? A logging line? An industrial railroad? Regardless of the ideal, the DF&G is already pulling hard to stay what it is.

Dan George's Spring Creek Lumber Company HO scale layout | April 2005

G&PC - Notes after the "Town Job"

January 2, 2004

Now that some rail is laid and trains are running on my Dry Fork & Greenbrier, I give thought to forgetting about the "upgrade" idea. The diesels run fine, the cheap plastic cars look fine behind the diesels, and I could easily sell the Shays.

But then I go up to Greenbrier County and run Dan's layout, and it seems it would be worth it to rebuild what is already done on the DF&G tie by tie if it meant being able to model like the G&PC - to have a layout that is a colorized photo album of West Virginia in the 1930s. Shays, wooden rolling stock, small intricate online industries and shops.

I think of how my layout has an inertia that keeps it at a level that prevents backdating and upgrading ... that dozens of little realities all conspire to deep it on track with my ideas from years ago.

Dan George's Spring Creek Lumber Company HO scale layout | April 2005

Greenbrier & Pocahontas Central

Photographing the Greenbrier & Pocahontas Central

Dan George's Greenbrier & Pocahontas Central was an incredibly detailed world in minature. Full of sawmills and coal mines and train stations, all connected by a working rail system. He asked me to create a final photographic record of his models before he dismantled the layout. When considering how best to portray Dan's models it was clear that the optimum viewpoint was extremely close up. Dan had built the layout to be viewed from the point of view of the miniature people who populated it.

Closely studying Dan's models could be disorienting. For a brief moment, one could see the scene from the perspective of the tiny inhabitants; distance becoming measured as they measured it, height as they saw it, believing what was seen was the truth. I tried to impart some of that sensation through the photographs.

April, 2005

Dan George's Spring Creek Lumber Company HO scale layout | April 2005

Backdrop-Planning Cove Quarry

My trackplan revision has given me a spur in the corner of my layout that I have decided to make a stone loading track. The quarry adjacent to the loading track is called Cove Quarry, because of the coved backdrop in the corner.

Coved corners have some unique characteristics that I keep in mind when I am planning the backdrop. Horizon lines should be long and nearly horizontal through the entire curve in order to minimize the apparent distortion. A soapstone quarry provides an interesting possiblity as a subject to render in a corner because the the way stone is cut and removed from the quarry creates long horizontal lines.

Soapstone is a relatively soft mineral. As the quarries would get deeper and deeper, the danger of the walls collapsing under their own weight increased. Bulkheads of stone were left in place to provide support for the quarry walls. These linear supports provide strong horizontal lines in a soapstone quarry composition.

I sketched a few orientations of a quarry in the cove of the backdrop

Rendering straight quarry walls on a curved surface could pose a problem. But I have learned from working on my backdrop that when I am out in the field observing a panaramic scene, my field of vision is curved, or "coved". Points equidistant from the viewer are on a curve. In fact, a scene on the flat section of the backdrop is in some ways more distorted than the scenes bending through the corners.

One of my goals in rendering Cove Quarry on the backdrop would be to create the illusion of space and distance where there isn't any. A good backdrop can really open up the layout space, but a bad backdrop is distracting. It would be better to just have a well executed line of trees at Cove Quarry than a poorly done, overly complex rendering of a quarry.