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

 Why this Web Site?

THREE hospitalizations and two major surgeries in 1987, and the subsequent publication of an illustrated article featuring the NORMANED RR in a national model railroad magazine, had seemingly resulted in my abandonment of model railroading in favor of an avid diversion of my attention to the [somewhat related] hobby of topical railway philately. A considerable number of new items purchased for the model railroad at a National O-Scale convention in June of 1987, and at a dozen elaborate world-class hobby shops during a 1988 visit with friends in Southern California, have never made it to the layout . . .
      Although I continued to work at gainful employment for six more years before my retirement in mid-1993, various difficult responsibilities placed upon me at my workplace resulted in an emotional atmosphere and personal workload which had stretched my available physical and mental strength to its limit. There was no room left in my being for “workin' on the railroad.”

“A man and his toys” -- Norm works at some of the early restoration chores necessary to get the NORMANED RAILROAD back in operation. Visible in the foreground are the gleaming tracks of the Giant Trestle spanning the “Great Gorge”.

A long string of hopper cars fills the large coal ramp branching from the NORMANED RR main line to the facilities at the top of Tunnel Mountain.

      I believe the achievement of national recognition of the layout, added to this decrease in ambition, energy, physical strength and general and mental health following two life-threatening illnesses, along with the new stresses at work, all combined to create (at least subliminally) the cause of this loss of desire to continue the vigorous active practice of ferroequinology. It's also a factor that, realistically, the railroad layouts had grown too large for one individual to maintain properly, so I redirected my interest entirely to the new pursuit of railways on stamps.
      Early in October 2000, a friend and neighbor approached me to “look over” a “pre-World War II train set” which had been owned by his late father-in-law. He was interested to know if I could provide him with an estimate of its worth, and/or determine if the train was in working condition. He brought the equipment to me in a large box and I promised to see what I could do within a few days.
      The locomotive (a desirable Lionel® No. 1688E) and cars [built c.1936-'46] appeared to be in excellent condition. However, when I took it to the basement to test it on my layout, I could not find a single place on the NORMANED RR where there was sufficient track which was not either badly rusted, or electrically “dead,” or both.

Grandpa prepares to start up the first train to operate over a restored portion of Normaned trackage, on Christmas Eve, 2000.

      [Later, I was able to place a probable value on my friend's trains, and one day in the ensuing November, I accompanied him to a Lionel® hobby repair shop, where he left the locomotive and tender for cleaning, lubrication and minor repairs. On New Year's Day 2001, my friend told me that the “heirloom train” had been put in good running order at very reasonable expense].
      However, the trauma of this discovery - “close-up and personal” - of the vast degree of debilitation, destruction and decay which my once “sparkling” pride and joy had reached, left me discouraged and depressed about the future of the once lively and exciting model railroad hobby. For a couple of years, I had been indicating to my son that all or any parts of the NORMANED were his for the taking, but there had been no immediate forthcoming action nor any indication of particular interest beyond the mention that he and his two sons would “think about it”. I now felt it was time to either sell the whole works or find a charitable museum or other railway-related society which would accept it as a gift in return for removing everything from the premises. But I felt I needed to give my family one more chance to speak up.
       I talked to my son by 'phone that weekend, and he opined that before the layout was broken up and disposed of, he would like to see it visually “documented” - perhaps on video tape or some other medium - and indicated that his sons might be interested in helping with such a project. As we continued to discuss this during the next couple of weeks, enthusiasm grew and the resurrection began . . . .

      Update: Since this project began, Ned, Ben, Nita and Florence Wright, David Banning and Christina Kennison, have assisted me greatly in the rescue, rehabilitation and renewal of many layout areas and items which now appear in the pages of this web site. My thanks. --N.W.
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