Model Railroad Tour Saturday in Warren and Jamestown/Fredonia
The Philadelphia and Erie Railroad (later Pennsylvania Railroad, now Buffalo and Pittsburgh) came to Warren, and neighboring Allegheny River towns, in 1859. From the north, the Dunkirk, Allegheny Valley and Pittsburgh Railroad (later New York Central) reached Warren in 1873. As Warren grew, the sound of trains going about their daily business became part of the fabric of Warren.
It’s easy to imagine sitting on one’s front porch in Warren on a summer evening hearing trains running through town and on the south side of the Allegheny River. Usually, the whistles for the grade crossing at Main Avenue are the first sounds one hears – two longs, a short and a looong, as the locomotive crosses the avenue. That’s a westbound train leaving Warren for Johnsonburg and beyond. The soft rumble of the engine continues as the train rolls along. Then, the whistles for Mohawk Avenue are followed by an increase in engine sound and rhythm as the engineer adds power to begin the climb away from the river.
Clickety-clack — an interruption as the wheels cross the switch at Penn Oil. Then there are the whistles for the grade crossing at Dorcon Road. Sounds of the train fade away as the train moves toward Sheffield and Kane. Pleasures such as those of a summer night’s train sounds, or standing at trackside with a relative or friend, have brought many folks to the hobby of Model Railroading.
In today’s world, the pleasures of the sounds of trains are brought to our model trains through the magic of digital electronics. In each of our model locomotives, there is a decoder with sounds recorded from the real locomotives. Whether our model is a little 600 horsepower switcher with a single tone horn or a big General Electric 4400 horsepower locomotive with a five chime whistle, our models can sound just right. And yes, there are chug, puff and whistle sounds for steam engines, too. We control the sounds from a handheld throttle, blowing for grade crossings and advancing engine roar. And, if the room full of model trains gets too noisy, we can turn off the sound.
Many model railroaders not only mimic the sounds of real trains on their layouts but also train operations. Crews are given train orders telling them where to set out or pick up freight cars and on which track to meet an opposing train or pass another train moving in the same direction. Towns are built from kits or “scratch” and imagination; materials to create mountains and meadows are now readily available. Model railroading is a social activity; it is creative and to quote Model Railroader Magazine, “Model Railroading is Fun”.
Each year during the month of November, many model railroaders open their model railroads to the public in celebration of the hobby of Model Railroading. On Saturday, Nov. 16, model railroaders in the Warren and Jamestown area will host tour visitors from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Two model railroads are open in Warren. Dick Bradley (19 Hinkle St. Warren) and Ray Goetz (46 Drumcliffe Dr., Pleasant Township) have invited community members to visit their model railroads. Visitation is open to all and there are no fees. Children are welcome but must be supervised by an adult. Neither model railroad is handicap accessible; both have stairs and narrow doors.
Dick Bradley models the Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad (Ma & Pa), a 77-mile shortline running from York Pa in south-central Pennsylvania to Baltimore Md. The prototype wound through pastoral countryside and industrial towns carrying coal, grain, and furniture from local industries. And until 1955, it also offered passenger service with early twentieth-century equipment. Dick has focused the model Ma & Pa on two industrial towns (Photos 1, 2) and the intervening countryside. His locomotives are sound-equipped and mimic those used by the prototype railroad, and he has focused his attention on replicating structures actually found in towns of the prototype area. Dick’s model railroad shows what can be done in a relatively small space when one focuses on prototype realism.
Ray Goetz model railroad presents a complex railroad in a larger space. First, Ray has modeled eight towns along a mainline of about 200 feet. His around -the-walls Mojave Railroad is set in California and runs through diverse industrial and scenic countryside. Locomotives lettered for the Mojave, Santa Fe and Southern Pacific can be seen on the line as they pass through industrial and scenic areas along the route, that give the flavor of southern California. Industries associated with the citrus packing, mining and refining industries can be seen, as well as large freight car classification yards. Ray’s locomotives also are equipped with sound.
Three Jamestown/Fredonia area layouts also will be open for viewing Saturday, Nov. 16, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Roger Schulenberg, 210 Seymour St., Fredonia, N.Y., operates the pastoral shortline Niobe & French Creek RR in a basement layout room. His model railroad is an HO scale proto-freelanced, single-track branch line set in 1949 rural Western New York. The layout is 28 x 8 feet. Track and scenery are 99% complete with many scratch-built structures. The model railroad is operated with a sound-equipped Digitrax Digital Command Control System.
Mike Dickenson, 213 Willard St. Jamestown, N.Y., has focused his basement model railroad on the Erie Lackawanna Railroad (EL). The double-track 13 x 13 feet around the walls mainline is based on the EL’s New York – Chicago mainlines through Jamestown, circa 1968. There are many scratch-built structures representing landmarks of the Jamestown and Western New York region. Mike controls his trains with North Coast Engineering equipment.
Timothy Anderson, 706 Busti-Sugar Grove Rd., Jamestown, N.Y., operates his model railroad in a basement room. Chessie System, Conrail and Erie Lackawanna/DERECO locomotives operate on the HO scale proto-freelanced, double-track mainline giving a fictional representation of the former Wellsville, Addison & Galeton Railroad, circa the 1970s to mid-1980s. The layout is a 300 square foot walk-in / around-the-walls style. Multiple trains normally are running at once. Structures and scenery include a power plant, a three-tier mountain, and a newly installed lake freighter. Tim uses Digitrax equipment to control as trains.