Mar 16, 2021
For sure I do. Thanks Randy.
If you look at all the famous model railroads and when you see each one and not think to yourself, "Hey, that looks like so-and-so's layout", you know that, even if each was influenced by the others, it is still their own masterpiece and nobody else's.
And, viewing those videos makes me feel like that real-life scenery could have been removed, shrunk down, and installed in John Allen's basement. That's how closely the two resemble each other.
No it is not Bill.. Bill MacClanahan was very good friends with John and he was part of the Texas bunch of Whit Tower, Cliff Robinson, Earl Cochran, Pete Peterson, Jim Findley, Malcolm Vordenbaum, Jack Leming. Bill used a few photo's of John's layout in his scenery book. I will find the other mans name, but it does not matter. The work from both of these other modelers was excellent... But I have seen a few photo's of these places. (trying to find them as well) but they do not resemble John's layout at all. John traveled to so many famous modelers layouts to single out two is a bit of a stretch. Again... let me repeat....; He was influenced by MANY other modelers.... but does that mean his layout is not original? Please do look at the video's I sent in. They are fun to see and you will see real world places we know he went and these had massive influences on him.
I was amazed when I saw the Kettle Valley clips... They had a passenger service up into the 1950's and He rode this with Bill Ryan. That trestle you see in my avatar on on my web page was totally influenced by that railroad line. An amazing story about the construction engineer who built that road also BTW. And the Vance Creek Bridge is almost an exact copy of his High Steel Bridge... Some breathtaking scenery out there in the Northwest for sure..
John accomplished more with less resources than any of his contemporaries. Were he alive today with access to Woodland Scenics products, custom printed decals, tree kits, quality flex track, quality resin kits, DCC, and so on, he would have absolutely blown us away. You have to remember the entire layout was built with the dividends from his investments, and his income from photography and articles. There's a reason the G&D was the first in the NMRA Heritage Series.
Agreed... yes indeed... !
It would be very interesting to see what he would do with what is available now. His resources seemed limited so maybe not.
Allen was a genius creator. As you may know, the whole thing burned down weeks after his death. Apparently, he also suffered from severe heart disease, much of his life. His work revolutionized model rail. I cannot imagine what he would do with DCC, and the like.
Lyn Wescott was also pretty amazing, but his work always had this sort of workman-like appearance to it.
Well, we can all assume he would be right into the best of it, whatever the technique or product might be. But as for what John would have done today? This project I am undertaking, more or less, is the closest way to answering that question. Ex; I went with the well detailed code 83 flex track from Peco. And will weather it myself and oddly enough my ballasting techniques are the same as used by most all of us and described by John back in the 1950's. So there are advantages there for construction speed and for tie plate details that John did not have. But overall his track looked fantastic being hand laid wood and many handmade switches.
I have some of John's actual rail most of it somewhat burned but I will use that for the garden tracks at the engine terminal with his own wood ties. From there, my work must copy Johns so the buildings have got to all be scratch built to match as closely as I can his style. And John himself said one of the main reasons he did this was not because he was poor (He was actually very wealthy btw) but he did not want his layout to look like so many others he had seen that all used the same manufactured structures, and you have to remember John was a pioneer in weathering everything to achieve realism. So even today to build something unique you have to make your own structures and even heavy kit bashing can be helpful to be unique but the buildings still do look similar if your not careful. John's layout had a Cityscape that was unlike anything ever seen. Almost NO one was using their camera and dark room to produce their own photographs of buildings and cities to look like a great large industrial sprawl and scaling them to give the backdrops depth.
So please stop in and look around.. as I begin adding some ground cover you will see todays fantastic products and techniques applied.. Static Grass might just be the greatest new thing to come to the hobby in ground cover. My Tree's will be 3 or 4 times as dense as John's were. But please also know John's tree's were some of the best hand made details of their day. Again not more than a handful of modelers applied sophisticated tree's construction using long wood dowels turned down and wire brushed and painted with branches drilled into the trunks to simulate those beautiful tall evergreens.
John had also mentioned that he wanted to add more scenic details but the look of the layout was good as it was and this would only be a future project after he had the mainline finished. "Operations" was his main interest and he was pushing to finish the last series of 5 bridges left to build on his "Summit Division" and he was down to his very last bridge, when he died. So we will never know just how far he would have gone to add more green to his massive rock covered scenery.
I am going to keep a great deal of the magnificent stone wall formations exposed but fill any areas that would naturally have collected earth and plants and tree's and make a good effort to add thicker layer of tree's and ground cover. I hope, in the end, everyone will agree with the more natural look and share in the recreation of the breathtaking, inspirational, miniature world that this man created.
Thanks. I discovered his work in the mid '90s. Please keep us informed on yours.
Thanks again, Richard
This sounds like an insane challenge, but hey, if you can do it, we want to see!! That you have some of the actual rails from John's opus is amazing. I did not see a link to your channel, is there one? And all the best of luck to you!
Well sir, I still have a long way to go but I believe I am up to this task and I am giving it what I've got. https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100063657332404 www.greatdivideline.com
Rick I remembered that Gill Freitag as the man who had a wonderful layout of some fame back in the day from Texas. But the photo's I have seen of it and his timeline is not as early as John's but they were both well known in the 1950's completing a significant portion of incredibly detailed layouts in the early 1960's. I have only seen two phogrpahs of Gill's work, both of them showed some fantastic craftsmanship and I can understand the notoriety he was given but neither photographs resembled John's layout in any real way other than there was some wonderful mountain scenery in one of them. Still can't remember the man in CA but he had a lot of Shay engines and mountains as well. Anyway no matter really, John knew everyone who was anyone in the hobby and his travel concerning the hobby, had him in a few other countries I know of. Anyway just to help answer a point of interest..
Love that N scale layout you're working on. Having multiple levels like that is interesting to me. You're going to have fun working on that. Enjoy.
Thanks Randy. The name sounds familiar but I can't place him or his layout. I'm still working on finding the missing video. We shall see what turns up.
The layout I have was incredibly difficult and fun to build. Restoring it will be a real hair puller. Not like I have anything else to do.
Keep up with your project. What an amazing compliment you can pay John Allen.
Awesome layouts. But I have a question:
How many railroads in the 1:1 world...climb mountians...and cross over them selves 3...4 or more times ? I know in our model railroad world we deal with 'selective compression'. But how prototypical is it really ?? TIA
* I know my railroad isnt all that prototypical...but...it is only one layer tall.
Where I live I have never seen any of that kind of stuff. But then this isn't real stuff. It's more dreams and toys to enjoy.
Tehatchapi and Georgetown spring to mind...but that's it, and one time
Biaschina-Loops in Switzerland. This thing looks like a prototypical model railroad layout lol.
There ya go. Settled.