an O-gauge (semi-scale) ‘Phoenix’
 Why this Web Site?
 The Layout
 Despatch Yard
 Christopher Yard
 The Railroad
 More Pictures
 Looking Back
 D-N-D Division
 H & O Division
 H & O Revival
 Bison Yard
 Service Module
 House Caboose
 H & O Slideshow
RR Memorabilia:
 My World of Trains
 Train Travel
 A Very Special Day
 Christmas 1
 Christmas 2
 Lionel Centenary
 Other RR Activity
 Guest Book

 The Layout

THE currently existing completed trackage of the NORMANED RAILROAD provides for multi-train operation on three levels by means of the following:

  • a point-to-point route between two major terminals (Despatch and Christopher)
  • continuous operation on two independent (inner and outer) loops or one long run utilizing both loops and turn-arounds at both terminals
  • yard switching for freight and passenger trains at both Despatch (6 tracks) and Christopher (4 tracks)
  • complete steam engine servicing yard with 5-stall roundhouse and turntable
  • two diesel-servicing areas
  • passing and storage sidings and numerous spur tracks serving various industries
  • a major interchange point at Genesee Junction
  • a branch line to an isolated resort village
  • a coaling dock and unit train capability
  • four reversing loops and two turning wyes
  • 57 manual and remote controlled turnouts (track switches) making possible virtually any combination of track movements

Although this track diagram is not drawn to any exact scale, the overall layout size is 15 ft. x 24 ft. in dimension as indicated, and the drawing is relatively and proportionally correct. The numbers with arrows indicate the position and direction from which some of the photographs in these pages were taken — they are keyed to numbers at the start of the captions below the applicable pictures. It is possible that similar references to some of the other illustrations may be added in a future update.

      In addition, a fourth track level displays the TTCo. Trolley Museum, while a fifth level is home to the “Old Salt” mine with a model representation of the unique Brooks Ave. yard depot of the Rochester & Southern Division of the Genesee & Wyoming RR Co., along with “Saltersville Siding,” where the old folks sit and wait for the passenger trains of a different time and place. These are both static displays or dioramas, but the arrangement is changed from time-to-time, and both levels have track carrying trains off into “tunnels to nowhere” (or to anywhere, depending upon the magic of one's imagination).

The Tiny Transportation Co. Trolley Museum’s lineup of streetcars and cable cars on display on the NORMANED RR layout. Also visible in the photo are the “Saltersville Siding” shelter on the upper level, and a corner of the Despatch yard below.

      Although there are provisions for eight separate operators (or engineers), the entire model railroad or any of its parts may be operated from the Main Control panel by setting interlocking electrical switches for the desired control routing.

Our first grandson, Danny Kennison (at age three), discovers the train whistle button on the model railroad's auxiliary control panel -- placed intentionally at “child height.”

      Play value also was kept in mind in designing the present NORMANED RR Layout, with controls for most automatic and remote control operating accessories being placed where younger model railroaders can reach them.

Co-founder Ned Wright's first train set, a 35-year-old Marx brand powered by a die-cast 2-4-2 “Columbia” type locomotive, is featured in the re-enacted ceremonial “first trip” over the “Giant Trestle” which carries railroad traffic over the “Great Gorge” -- itself visible in part beneath this large bridge on THE NORMANED RAILROAD.

      One of the featured attractions of the N
ORMANED is the Giant Trestle which spans the “Great Gorge” to connect Central City to the main line. This bridge was constructed by the railroad's president (that's me) entirely from scratch using prototype illustrations and scrap lumber. It contains more than 250 individual pieces of wood, 7½ pounds of nails, three pints of wood glue, and required 3½ pints of flat black paint to finish; it will support the combined weight of four 200-pound men. This trestle is 432 scale feet long and rises 148 scale feet above the floor of the gorge.

[4] After dropping off its caboose behind the turnout, the NN&T's 55-year-old 2-4-0 #276 backs an empty Atlas ore car under the Noma Mine tipple for a load of coal. The Camelback engine - most ancient loco on the NORMANED - was handcrafted on a pre-war Lionel chassis in 1947, the same year the NORMANED's founder graduated from high school. The caboose was built from a limited edition D&H kit by Ambroid and decorated for the NN&T.

When not being used to haul coal or transport mine or maintenance workers (left), the "Tunnel Mountain" line serves as the route of the tourist trolley (right).

      “Tunnel Mountain,” which rises behind Central City overlooking the great gorge to the highest point on the layout, is another creation of the NORMANED's “Norm,” who both designed and constructed it - and then made it work. The mountain made it possible to model a railroad tunnel and two highway tunnels, two shafts of the Noma (coal) mine, a point-to-point tourist trolley line from Central City to the mountain's peak, and a coal supply company which provides also a servicing stop for hungry and thirsty steam locomotives. The proprietor considers this project to be a companion to the Giant Trestle, and the centerpiece of the model railroad.

[5] A 4-6-0 ten-wheeler gets a last minute check-up after being turned at the NORMANED RR's scratchbuilt five-stall roundhouse. Other road engines (backed into their stalls to show off for the photographer) sit proudly on display.

      The freelanced five-stall roundhouse (unusual on O-Scale home layouts) also was scratch-built by the president using scrap materials; plans were developed from old railroad photographs (pun intended), and some of the “products” used in its construction might be “unseemly” enough to cause proper young girls to blush - or others to laugh. The Arlington Hotel at Panthorne, the “Old Salt” Mining Company building, and all of the control panels also were designed and hand-made by the elder Mr. Wright (although considerable assistance from others was necessary at times to get the electrical wiring correct).

The “Old Salt” Mining Co. diorama is a collage of elements of the mine’s entrance and structures, and the Genesee & Wyoming System’s Rochester & Southern Division Brooks Ave. yard depot, recalling the diversity and growth of the service provided by the GNW RR during its 101-year history. (The GNW was originally a 14-mile shortline serving the now-abandoned Akzo Salt Mine in Retsof, N.Y., while the Brooks Ave. yard has a long genealogy dating from 1913: go to Inspirations.)

      A highly visible and distinctive miniature farm near the railroad line into Bridgeport is the work of our middle child and daughter, Nita. She perhaps tells its story best in her own words:

“This was my biggest project that I can remember working on. I recall finding all of the buildings and animals that I wanted to use for the farm. I don't remember if it was Dad's idea, or a combination of both his and mine for me to work on it, but I remember that it was a lot more fun for me than the help I did with the industrial portion! I laid out all of the pieces where I wanted them, spent time marking and measuring, and finally gluing each piece in place. I remember spending a lot of time on this project, and taking great pride in its completion. To this day, I still think of the farm as 'my farm!'”

      And her farm it is. Visitors who take a close look are all but amazed at the amount of detailing this scene has - inside and outside the buildings, and in the thoughtful use of the relatively small “acreage” provided for her use when she built her farm. She has also taken charge of maintaining the farm herself, and there is usually very little that needs “fixin'” at Nita's farm!

“Nita's Farm” lies in a narrow valley alongside trackage leading from Despatch near the branch line to Bridgeport. A train (at left) passes the farmhouse, barn, and assorted equipment and buildings. Right: A hired hand sets out to gather eggs while a girl feeds the pigs near the far end of the farm property.

       Many of those who examine the layout (on and off the farm), are able to discover the Hobo “Jungle” with its lighted campfire . . . or the operating road-crossing gate . . . the partially hidden auto mechanic . . . the “old salt” - both the person and the real thing . . . the nude bathing beauties . . . “Sam, the Semaphore Man” . . . the Dalmatian doing his thing for the fire hydrant . . . the one-armed motorist . . . “Little Boy Blue” . . . the television cameraman . . . the deer hunter - and a beautiful buck and doe together beyond his sight . . . a lonely clergyman . . . the schoolmaster . . . a manhole (or two) in the street . . . the fire chief . . . the haunted house (and maybe even a ghost or two) . . . two removable bridges (and a drawbridge which stops train traffic) . . . the English gentleman . . . the Old Antique Shop . . . a boy “gone fishin'” with his grandpa . . . a native American Indian in full warbonnet ready to protect his maiden with the pale face (and other parts) from all comers . . . a child's swing (there could even be two) . . . a motorcycle cop in hiding . . . a couple kissing in the gazebo . . . and lots of other surprises . . . .

A careful look at this picture will reveal two hoboes waiting near their campfire in a “jungle” below the tracks. Can you find them? (Maybe they already hopped into a boxcar of a slow-moving freight train while you were off-line).


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