The weather finally broke and gave us some days above 30 degrees. It was a relief. However, I received news that my older brother Garland had passed away suddenly on March 18. I have been in mourning ever since. We were very close and I grew up admiring and taking after my brother in many ways. When one grows up “on the poor side” of the tracks, you take extra account in things that matter not to those with money…but those without. I will miss my brother each day now…and cannot really fathom at this point what has really happened. I talked with him on a weekly basis…and this is something that will be difficult to get over.

How does this affect the layout? Well, I am taking new interest in areas that I had almost written off for now…and instead plan on keeping them alive for consideration in the future. I can’t really just leave them off this plan after spending the last 15 years or so researching this area…and there are some really exciting days ahead of us with the release of new products in 2019. Garland wasn’t a model railroader, but I could at least research the prototype with him, as he knew West Frankfort better than I in the 1970s…since he was 8 years older in age and comprehension of our environment back then.

I had planned a scene where my Dad would get really frustrated and do a U-turn in his Ford Pinto when the Missouri Pacific was switching the town yard for a mine run. MP would double and sometimes triple their yard tracks to build a train of empty hoppers (those wonderful four bay MP quads from ExactRail) and trundle south of town to the industrial spur. This is possible using a hidden magnetic chain and attachments to go under the cars…Garland thought this was hilarious…as we were sometimes passengers in Dad’s frustration…and regularly took rides in the U-turn universe…only to be thwarted at the Cleveland Street Crossing…as it seemed sometimes that the MP guys were “wise” to what Dad was trying to pull off…and sped up their massive empty coal train to keep him in check!!!

Well, I have been in this paralysis by analysis mode for some time now; We finished the wall rebuild in the third floor; and the carpeting is scheduled for install on April 2. It’s special ordered. So, the room will be operational and ready for layout construction at that time. I have tweaked the plan a bit…as far as the bench work; but still am fluid as to what will go on the bench work. I am still leaning on Karnak and Joppa…because that would be really cool…and would allow the use of MP, Conrail, and maybe BN power and trains; plus massive amounts of coal hoppers would be used from ExactRail and Arrowhead models. Lastly, the beautiful Cache River Wetlands area of extreme Southern Illinois would be recreated in HO scale…and that would superb in that of itself. But, watching coal trains being built in West Frankfort and slowly working their way south to the mine branch would also be very cool. I used to watch that action daily after riding down there on my bike in the summer months after school let out.

It’s a good problem to have…and there are many facets of the Missouri Pacific in Southern Illinois. But I have to settle on something right now while we’re here at this address. I would like to have something to operate while I continue to build structures for a future layout…only after getting this one up and running. But, my brother’s passing made me think about this stuff a little bit. No one knows how much time we all have. Better to have built something rather than pining for that huge basement of the future. So, I need to get it in gear after April 2. The room will be open for business.

Garland…I miss you, brother.

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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