Lots of stuff going on around here. Finally making some progress on the layout again after a hiatus. I am going with a LDE (Layout Design Element) based on Karnak and Joppa IL for this part until I move to the new house. These two modules will be built on straight modules to allow them to be inserted into the new layout at a later date. With recent announcements and new freight cars in bound; I am going to eventually do the entire Joppa Subdivision again. The new layout room will be 35′ x 70+’; and will allow for a massive version of the layout that I have always wanted to build. With the new Tangent Scale Models NYC cabooses now available…that Conrail itch has hit an all-time high. With Arrowhead Models’ H39’s and future (hopefully) Conrail and Penn Central H39’s…plus these cabooses…the Big 4 at Karnak will now be a reality. There are three Conrail GP38’s from Atlas now that are on the roster as well.

Additionally, during the RPM meet, I picked up a couple of books. One of them was on the ICG Sparta Sub by John Kohlberg. John is a brother to Dan Kohlberg (ICG decals and Tangent Scale Models). Dan and John are well known in the railroad community as avid historians and modelers. So, naturally, I see a photo of the old C&EI depot at Tamms IL in John’s book…with an MP local freight powered by a U23B. John sent me a better photo of it crossing the GM&O diamond there…and I was hooked on the Thebes subdivision of the MP/CEI again as well. So, I am going to try to put a portion of that line from Joppa Junction to at least Tamms on the larger layout. Another idea was to build the old C&EI “Fayville Junction” and perhaps Cairo Junction on the MoPac Chester Sub…with a model of the Thebes bridge. This would be a heck of a layout on its’ own…with MoPac’s freights; coal trains; and SSW trains…plus the old C&EI/MoP “Chaffee Turn” via Joppa Junction to Thebes to Chaffee. At any rate, it’s a really neat area and with the added interest of the junction at Tamms; and the old Depot; it’s a really neat layout subject and a cool place to model…especially in its’ day. As of now, the ICG units that I have on order from Athearn will be used at both Benton Junction and Tamms if I get that far.

I have picked up a few Kato SD40-2’s for a second BN coal train. I am having some custom cars done for AEPX trains between Neilson and Vienna Junction with BN power. I have purchased a GP30 and GP35…as well as some GP40’s for two Centralia-Metropolis locals too. Precision Design Company has produced new decals for my MoPac engine fleet and several station decals for signs as well. I am able to get units painted and built now with these new cab side decals and such…plus the new 20″ numerals are now scaled to size and will be accurate. If I want to buy new Athearn GP38-2s or GP15’s…I can simply take their over-sized numerals off and use these. It’s a great time to be a modeler.

Athearn Genesis’ new ACF 4600 cars are superb models; at least to my eyes. Are there some inaccuracies? I don’t know. All I can say is Athearn and Atlas are the only companies that have nailed the MP covered hopper gray. It remains to be seen on the new Arrowhead Models ACF 4600…but the others are certainly lacking. I picked up the full run of Athearn’s cars for MP and C&EI road names. The fit and finish on these cars are superb…and they are sold out. There are few dealers around that have a couple of MP cars left…so I’d grab ’em while you can.

I also kind of got back into scale modeling of trucks and race cars in 1/25 scale…so that has taken a bit of my time…I am just stocking up on the old AMT big truck releases…and a few of the Richard Petty Dodge and Plymouth cars from the early 1970’s. The patience required to build the AMT trucks has returned…and that helps me with smaller projects in 1/87.1 too. Plus, the models in 1/25 are really nice as designed these days. Looking forward to a diversion of sorts from time-to-time isn’t a bad thing…and there is nothing wrong with an old AMT truck kit!

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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.


William Irwin · September 9, 2021 at 1:37 pm

Glad you are expanding your representation of Southern Illinois. Like your expansion ideas.

Brandon Holmes · September 16, 2021 at 7:40 pm

I thought we might cross paths when Big Boy came through but me and Sabrina started just north of Cora and chased it all the way to St Louis. Perry saw on Facebook that you were at Tamms. I have to give you and this website credit where it’s due. I had stepped away from model railroading for a long time, ironically after selling all of my stuff to afford to move to Memphis to work for the IC. After meeting you and talking to you and reading your blogs here I have started up the hobby again. I hope to add on to my garage one day for a layout room. Thank you and take care

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