I began building the layout in August 2005. The planning and most of the construction took several years and by 2008 the bench work, track, electric was complete. The layout has been described as a “walk-in island” type layout, which is shaped like an M, with three peninsulas and two internal aisleways, and is free standing so that one can walk completely around the layout and follow your train as it gains elevation between Sunbury and Mt. Carmel.. Some of the thought process that went into planning the layout can be seen in the September 2010 Railroad Model craftsman article. In January 2008 I converted the layout to DCC with sound. I have a NCE radio system with 14 controllers. The layout is broken up into 7 circuit breaker managed power districts and also has two reverse loop controllers/circuit breakers that manage the 3 reverse loop-staging yards and the two turntables. The switch machines are rotary relays taken from WWII bombers and controlled with homemade power sources.
Regular monthly operating sessions began in November 2010 at which time some work had been done on backdrops, scenery and specific buildings. The main line, 42” above the floor, consists of a South staging yard (Enola), the town of Sunbury, KASE tower, the Susquehanna River bridge, Northumberland yard, the major industries in Milton and a North staging yard (Williamsport). The main line is double tracked from Enola to Northumberland, then single track with a passing siding in Milton from Northumberland to Williamsport. These two staging yards and the Northumberland yard were designed to supply the east bound traffic for the single tracked Shamokin Branch.
The Shamokin Branch consists of the horn track going through Sunbury, Crowl including the General Store, Weigh Scales, the Glen Burn Colliery, Shamokin and Mt Carmel with the interchange with the LVRR. The branch line is single tracked with passing sidings at Crowl, Weigh Scales, Glen Burn and Shamokin.
The LVRR portion includes the shared Mt Carmel Station, the industries and a passing siding in Hazleton and the LVRR staging (Allentown/Bethlehem, PA). The LVRR staging, Hazleton, and the Mt. Carmel yard were designed to provide the westbound traffic on the Branch.
The Main line is about 1.5 scale miles and the Branch models over 4 scale miles of the 28 mile Shamokin Branch.
I am attempting to build the model railroad so that specific real locations, including buildings and industries, are modeled. Some photographs of the real railroad are displayed on the backdrop and I am attempting to copy these scenes on the layout. I am also planning to detail and accurately weather all locomotives and freight cars on the layout to represent the prototype. A number of buildings and rolling stock have been scratch built. In 2010, a fleet of PRR I1sa, 2-10-0, steam locomotives, the PRR called them “hippos”, was added to my roster and I backdated my layout to 1957. These locos, along with consolidations, 2-8-0 H10s, were the main power on the Shamokin Branch until the PRR ended all steam operations in late 1957.
As of 2019 the layout is nearly complete. The backdrops and scenery are completed and many of the prototype structures are in place. There are additional structures that I would like to add to the layout and will do that in the future. We are continuing the monthly operating sessions, we are well over 100, and we have a core group of 15 operators who participate in the 3 hour sessions. The layout operates as the Shamokin Branch did in the 1950s with all trains being run as extras and a dispatcher controlling the traffic through the use of telephones that are located at each town along the Branch.
Other than operations, my primary interest is building and detailing freight cars. There always seems to be new freight cars on the layout. I hope those who viewed the site previously will be able to notice some changes since your last visit.