East of the Blue Ridge

Chronicles of an On30 quarry railroad

Creating an archaeology of time and place


Flooded quarries are evidence of the once thriving soapstone industry in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. The quarries were relatively small and the mills were compact with interesting architectural and mechanical details. Labor intensive, anachronistic, shop-worn industrial operations set in rural isolation provide unique inspiration as a modeling subject


The Piedmont-Standard Stone Company
An imagined journey through the Blue Ridge foothills.

On my model railroad, I try to bring to life a fictional archaeology of time and place. The Piedmont-Standard Stone Company’s narrow gauge railroad runs through an ancient landscape, marked by quarries, old mills, and small company towns. The route is strung together from my research, correspondence, and recollections from years of hiking to abandoned industrial sites in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains

Inspiration for the Piedmont-Standard is drawn from the rural countryside of central Virginia, and the excellent work of fellow modelers in the Virginias and Carolinas.

Plans are attempts to depict the historic precedent of the soapstone operations on a relatively small layout. This requires a lot of thought be given to design and composition in order to fit the necessary elements of each scene into the space.

Projects are ongoing endeavors using a wide variety of technologies, media, and materials that go into building a functional model railroad.

The intimate world of obsessed amateurs: outwardly ordinary but inwardly focused, like addiction, on some private creative pursuit. Model railroaders, tattoo artists, trout fisherman, etc. Masters in their own chosen realm. A man's world: Grail Quest in an enchanted forest of gizmos. Passion breeds its own subculture, its own heros, its own literature and terminology, a whole vocabulary of shared mania.

–Michael Flanagan