This week has been one of several social gatherings for me. It began last Wednesday when Wayne Robichaux, “Tomcat” Kelly and I drove over to Covington, Louisiana to spend the day touring several layouts. The three of us are former operators of the late Lou Schultz’s Alleghany Subdivision of the C&O Railroad. Our hosts were also members of that same operating group, so this was not only to be a series of layout tours, but also a “mini-reunion” of sorts.
We motored over to Covington during a steady rainfall, but that didn’t dampen our spirits. We arrived at the first layout, the Southern Railway’s “Rathole”, under construction by Walter Rieger. Also there were our other hosts, Matt Hardey, Mike Walsdorf and Sam Urrate, and the layout tour commenced. Walter has essentially completed the first third of his layout, and is now hard at work doing benchwork and laying track on the remainder. The bulk of the layout is a two level mushroom design, with a third level for staging. The focus will be on hot and heavy freights running on a fully CTC controlled mainline. One must see the completed section of this layout to appreciate Walter’s attention to detail, and the completeness and authenticity of the design. I’ll be following it’s construction over the next several years.
We broke for lunch after touring Walter’s layout, heading over to Bud’s Broiler for one of their famous burgers grilled over a real charcoal pit. I was especially pleased with this selection of eatery, as I grew up a few blocks from the original Bud’s Broiler on City Park Avenue in New Orleans. I was a regular patron of the establishment back in the 60s (and which is still in operation).
After lunch we headed over to Matt’s rendition of the Louisiana Eastern Railroad. Matt had recently completed grafting a beautiful section of a layout that he had acquired onto the peninsula of his layout. And he has done a masterful job of integrating it into his original layout. Had he not told me what he’d done, I would have thought it had always been there. Matt really enjoys building very detailed structures with interiors, and I enjoyed studying them, continually finding more and more to see.
And last we visited Mike’s L&N Railroad. Mike has an attic layout, and that thing has one of the longest runs I believe I’ve ever seen on an HO layout. The layout goes around the four walls of the room, and into a long U-shaped peninsula in the center. But get this . . . it has three levels! The room is over 50′ in length, and while I don’t recall its width, it is wide enough that Mike has four foot (and greater) aisles through most of the layout. He says it takes about an hour for a train to traverse the entire line! He is relatively close to completion on the trackwork, and scenery already has a good start. The layout will feature both CTC and some APB signaling, and should be quite interesting to operate.
I believe all three of these layouts will have good operations when the time comes, and that can’t be too soon. I really miss the operations we had at Lou’s, and I’m hoping I’ll be invited over to run on these pikes someday. The tours were excellent and I’m glad we made the trip to see them.
Late that afternoon we departed Covington and then made a stop in Hammond just to see if anything was running on the CN line there. Our timing was impeccable. We arrived just in time to see a southbound freight roaring by, headed by a couple of KCS units . . . an unusual sighting. And a few minutes later, the southbound local came charging though town hot on the tail of the first train.
Upon arriving back in Denham Springs (about 8:30 pm), Tomcat decided to call it a day. Wayne and I headed over to the Lagniappe Restaurant near my home for a late supper. A great day, indeed!
But that wasn’t the end of the week. Today, Friday, Syd Dann dropped by my house for a visit. I gave him an update tour of the Louisiana Central, and he then went to his vehicle and labored to carry a large grip into the train room. Inside was his latest acquisition, an O scale 2-6-6-6 Allegheny! Man, that was one massive locomotive (even as a model). After our show-and-tell, we headed up Highway 16 to Watson’s Pizza Place, where I ordered one of their famous Watson Supreme pizzas. I really love that pizza! Naturally, my eyes were larger than my stomach, so I’ll be chowing down on the balance of my Supreme for lunch tomorrow. No problem, there.And the week still has another day left. In the morning I’ll be attending the weekly ROMEO breakfast with some railroad friends at the Warehouse Restaurant over in Baton Rouge. I know I’ll have gained five pounds this week by the time I finish it.
But what a delightful week it has been.