The year continues to speed by us. Here we are with the Holidays upon our calendars. Not a lot going on around here other than the usual procrastination or inaction. I did take delivery of the both my ExactRail custom Hopper car order and the latest run of the ExactRail 3737 quad hoppers in Missouri Pacific Livery. I ordered 100 custom hopper cars with the Missouri Pacific Buzz saw scheme that were delivered in 1977. These cars will supplement the massive fleet that I have on hand already; and I will add approximately 1.5 ounces of weight to improve empty performance and mine switching reliability. Yes, there were derailments on the prototype back in the day…but I don’t want to model derailments!! I have rounded up 5 Athearn Genesis GP38-2’s undecorated units to use for additional power and am actively seeking Missouri Pacific undecorated GP15-1 versions. I would like about 3 more undec GP15-1’s in MP versions. Please send me an email if you have some to sell or trade.

I had several sets of decals made by Bill Brillinger at Precision Design Company. These include new scale numbers for the MP diesels with the 20″ large white numerals; and two sets of MoPac cab decals with the two-digit MP engine designation numerals on the rectangular background. One of them has C&EI lettering above the screaming eagle emblem for use on GP15-1’s 1570-1574…which is why I want to buy a few more GP15-1s. I would like to build three of the GP15-1 with the C&EI units for dates when I want to represent March to December 1976.

I have finally decided that the original plan of Benton Jct; West Frankfort; and the Buckhorn Industrial Lead will be the layout. I will build off the plans on this site first; with the branches depicted for operation…and expand these to near-scale iterations when my new space is available. As I have stated before; with new scenery materials and rolling stock availability; it is very easy now to model the areas of my youth. Yes, I love the rest of the Joppa Sub…but West Frankfort and the coal mines is really my interest; I like sound units for switching; and nothing would be more enjoyable than a three unit set of GP15’s switching Zeigler Number 4…at least to myself, anyway.

I sent my Athearn GP38-2s in MP and ICG back due to assembly issues. As a result; I then rounded up the Undecorated units mentioned earlier to supplant them. At Benton Junction; I replaced them with three GP10s from Intermountain Railway…with Athearn Genesis chassis under them and Loksound installed. I will use a Bowser N-8 painted in ICG orange for now; and will hope than Tangent makes an ICG long porch caboose. I also would love to see the Tangent ICG quads ran again so I can buy a train of them for use at Benton so the MP can hand off the empty train to ICG or vise-versa. The GP10’s are signature ICG power; and although I regret sending the new GP38-2’s back; I think the GP10’s are better representations of what ICG would send down to the Interchange.

As for the new year; I hope to see more new releases of updated freight cars like the ACF 2980 two bay Center flow; the Bethlehem Steel 3209 quad hopper; and maybe a new corrugated side 53′ gondola in MP livery. An MP extended vision caboose would be awesome; and our hope turns to Tangent for that; as their cars are superb replicas. At any rate I will continue to post updates this month; as I continue ( at a snail’s pace right now ) construction of the branches with simultaneous thinning of the proverbial herd of engines and cars; and installing new photos and mine trackage on the site. I hope all of you have a great Thanksgiving Day holiday this year.

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Thomas Austin

I am a Southern Illinois Native. I am a fan of nostalgia, and the history of Southern Illinois. Model Railroading has been a large part of my life; and it helps serve that interest. Through this interest I have learned much about the region; the people; and the industries that gave us all hope of building a life beyond our formal education. Small Towns in the Midwest built this nation...and this site aims to share that fact with the world.