Here we are in October, 2021. The Delta Variant is raging in Marion County, IL; and across Southern Illinois. It’s like some Orwellian nightmare at times. Will things ever get back to normal? I don’t know. All I know is that model railroading and hobbies are at an all time high around this place. I have always been sort of a “home body” largely because of economics in my youth…as we were raised in West Frankfort with a lower-middle class income…in fact, I often wonder how my Mom and Dad did what they did…because we always had clothes on our backs and food in our stomach…with a roof over our head. At any rate, work continues to take up most of the modeling time I would like; as I spend most of my weekends resting from 60+ hour weeks. However, new developments along equipment did come around this past month.

ExactRail released more road numbers in the MP 3737 quad hoppers…and I bought them. I also had commissioned a custom order from ExactRail for 100 cars in a not-before-released MP paint scheme. These are absolutely beautiful. I want to personally thank ExactRail for listening and producing this car for MP modelers; and continuing to run these exquisite models. I’ve said this before…I would be out of Model Trains if it weren’t for ExactRail because that car is THE CAR of my modeling and youth. I remember those old MP quad hoppers sitting in West Frankfort all of years living there until around 1987; when the mines all closed online. Yes, they are pricey; but you get what you pay for. The 3737 cars are correct right down to the corner gussets on the MP “family” cars…and I just keep buying them. Now, what if ExactRail would do the fabled Bethlehem 3209 quad? Who knows? Maybe we’ll see it? I also want to give Chris Brimley a shout out for excellent customer service at ExactRail. Thank you, Chris!!!

I continue a bit of research on the coal mines when possible and will get as close as I can with regard to the buildings…if anyone would have insight as to where I might be able to obtain better photos or drawings of the tipples to Zeigler 4 and Freeman 4…please send me an email. I am really interested in a scale rendering of these two areas…or near scale…because I don’t have a football field to build this thing in…but 35 x 70 will be pretty cool…eh? I know it might boring to some; but Southern Illinois coal is what made my home town flourish for years…and my friends that I grew up with had it pretty good when their fathers worked in UMWA mines in Franklin and Williamson Counties. I want to ensure that I create the time machine to go back to those years. It’s a quest at this point.

The Tangent Scale Models cabooses are here…for Karnak IL and the Conrail/Big 4 interchange. Exquisite museum pieces…in fact, these cabooses ARE MUSEUM QUALITY…and they don’t need a magnifying glass to prove it…Everything about them is first rate…right down to the packaging. So, we look onward with great anticipation of the next Tangent Caboose. Thank you to Dave, Dan, and all at Tangent Scale Models.

Looking forward to the next Arrowhead car…which should be the ACF 4600. I will buy these cars and future Arrowhead cars from Red Board Hobbies in Belleville. Paul is now an Arrowhead Dealer so give him a call if you want in on the ACF 4600 or any other Arrowhead car. He also carries Tangent Scale Models and Moloco Trains as well. Paul carries Digitrax; ESU; Soundtraxx; and a full line of Tamiya paints…This is NOT a paid endorsement…Paul is a just a good friend and a fellow modeler that runs a first rate shop.

As we head for home in 2021; we have a lot to be thankful for. I am looking forward to the holiday season (which is right around the corner; believe it or not) and will always miss those people in my life that are no longer with us. With all that we have gone through as a nation the past 18 months…let’s all just take a moment and be grateful for every day we have with each other…friends, family, pets, and yes, model trains.

Categories: Uncategorized

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.


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