Valley Auto building was constructed in 1950, the
storefront consisted completely of windows. For the
first few years, we placed our train layout in the
middle of those windows on a couple of sheets of
plywood. In the late 1980s, we filled in most of the
storefront and installed smaller windows, and so the
train layout was moved over to the northeast corner of the
store in order to be visible through the remaining
display windows. It remained in that location for at
least 10 years.
In 2003, we moved the layout from its familiar location
in the corner back to its original spot and expanded it,
making the layout over 30 feet wide for the first time.
shows our depot building (a kit from Lionel) and a mix
of various other structures. We purchased new track
in 2003 to allow for the smaller curves at the ends of
the layout, and we also added the double crossover
While the crossover
isn't an item you'll see on real railroads very often,
it allows us to move trains from one track to the other
picture shows one of our newer engines, a Lionel Century
Celebration "Baby" Hudson. You can also see some of the
downtown buildings, including the scale model of the
Roxy Theatre, all of which were scratch-built by Ray
Deering. Ray also built the water tower out of a
cardboard tube and a pile of balsa wood. The grain
elevator building is a Lionel kit.
"the train that started it all," the 1957 General
steamer that used to run around the Christmas tree at
Blakesley's Cigar Store. This train will be 50 years old
in 2009. It
usually makes at least a week's worth of appearances on
our layout each season.
we started collecting the Lemax series of ceramic
village buildings. Lemax buildings are unique because
many of them contain picture windows, enabling you to
see a scene inside the structure.
Thanks to some smart
shopping by my mother-in-law, our building collection
expanded after this Christmas season -- she found a
clearance sale. This enabled us to nearly double
our collection of Lemax buildings for our
of our Lemax village area shows two trains passing each
other on the layout. Due to the seasonal nature of our
layout, we can't get too complicated with scenery. You
also won't see any complicated railroad switching
maneuvers going on. Our aim is
just to run the trains and enjoy watching them, which is
why this picture shows an 1880-era passenger train
passing a 1950-era freight train!
collecting the Department 56 North Pole Village series
of buildings in 2000. These buildings are more intricate
in design than the Lemax buildings. This area is our
idea of what the North Pole might look like -- complete
with Santa's red-roofed house near the top of the
mountain. The smaller building on the right is entitled "Loading the Sleigh," which features a handcar
with two elves pumping a load of gifts back and forth.
That handcar's got some miles on it!