Summer has arrived. Likewise, I have resumed those trips down to Williamson County. I have been researching the area around the former mine locations that will be featured on the layout. It helps to have a general idea of what the grade crossings and roads looked like around the mines. It’s really amazing as to how close these two mines were to each other; but that appears to be the case with regards to the coal fields in general. Getting an idea of the general layout and vegetation of the area will help get the right look for an authentic re-creation.

The train room was completed (finally). I am now procuring the lumber and IVAR shelving from IKEA to start the basic bench work. The shelving and legs will be painted outside to keep the finished look of the room intact. The shelving aspect to the IVAR modules lends bit of “upscale” carpentry to the room. Additionally, storage of surplus rolling stock is accomplished with a nice professional look and effect…something I have long desired. It’s not the basement empire that I really want…but it’s a start. I am grateful to have the space I have.

I’ve been stocking up on general merchandise cars for use in the Benton Junction area. In doing the field research, I have been looking at the operational aspects of Benton. It appears that Joppa Sub crews would deliver their cars to Benton and use the two different interchange points on the east side of town to accomplish set out and pick up tasks for blocks of traffic. Simply, all traffic off the Joppa Sub would be delivered to the Benton interchange points for both Missouri Pacific North/South traffic going from Salem to Gorham; as well as coal interchange with ICG at Benton with empty/loaded ICG hoppers bound for Joppa. And, I can liven the scenes up at Benton with some MP general merchandise trains. This is a tentative plan…and subject to change. But for now, I’m hanging onto the cars. I have enough Bluford Cabooses to supply these trains and keep a couple for my mine branches. GP50’s and U23B’s will power the mainline trains at Benton…and perhaps a couple of SD40-2’s…as well.

I discovered new sources for information with regards to the mine buildings. Old aerial photos have yielded excellent photos of both mines and allow me the ability to actually build the mines in their entirety…something that I have always dreamed of doing. I plan on prototype-length trains now in the finished version of the layout with 50-75 loads of coal pulled each day from the two mines. I can see the country roads and grade crossings now! I can see the GP15’s shoving HARD on the cuts of cars as they trundle across the oil and chip roads (Old Marion Road and Old Ben Mine Rd) in Williamson County. The more I think about this project, the more excited I get about it.

Work has progressed on the Sedalia caboose project. I have been waiting for the weather to clear up so I can get some photos of the roof and cupola. I hope to have something ready for the fall. Time will tell. As for now, I have a few freight car projects that I would like to finish up. One is an Evans 5277 Boxcar (ExactRail) that is being stripped and repainted for Ashley Drew and Northern. I also changed the stirrups on this car; and put a Moloco Evans EOCC device on it. It was finished with Highball Graphics Decals. I built one Tangent Scale Models 60′ flatcar with bulkheads for MoPac. It was a challenge; and I really wish Dave had engineered the car better…but it’s assembled, and ready for paint. There are two Exactrail GSI flatcars ready for paint as ICG cars, too. I also had Precision Design Co. do some signs for the Joppa Sub in correctly-scaled Missouri Pacific lettering font for the stations on the Joppa Sub. Turned out great. I highly recommend them. I am now working on some MP hopper decals to do with them as well.

Getting ready for the St. Louis RPM meet at the end of the month. I hope to see some new products coming out; as the meet is two weeks after the National Train Show in Salt Lake City this year. Next year the National Show is in St. Louis…so it will be a double whammy. That’s all for now. I’ve got to get the doorbell…must be a few more new freight cars arriving!

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.


Todd Stevens · July 2, 2019 at 9:40 am

I’m really glad you are doing West Frankfort. Those old Chappius photos bring back a lot of memories! What year(s) have you settled on? I’m asking because I believe Zeigler 4 closed in ’80. But anyway, very excited to see progress again and maybe I’ll run into you at the RPM.

    Thomas Austin · July 2, 2019 at 10:18 am

    1979. If you have photos of Zeigler 4…I would gladly compensate you for copies of them…for use in building the tipples. I will be at the RPM in STL.

    I realized after viewing several aerial photos that a model of the tipples and West Frankfort alone would be more than enough to satisfy my modeling desires. I watched these trains roll out daily from my bicycle near the end of 7th(?) street with my friend Alex Batts.

Todd Stevens · July 3, 2019 at 9:37 am

All I have of what I believe is Zeigler #4 is a crappy screenshot from Vintage Aerials. It seems like the ones you want are always the hardest to find. I’ve scraped and clawed all over for Old Ben #25 John Ross plant. I guess folks never took pictures assuming they’d be there forever. I’ll keep on the lookout for any #4 photos.

    Thomas Austin · July 3, 2019 at 9:57 am

    Yep. I bought some photos of area mines; both Zeigler 4 and Freeman 4 from Vintage Aerial. They turned out quite nice as a 12 x 18 print. Very clear and defined. The Freeman 4 shot is more of an overhead shot; whereas there are two really “decent shots” of Zeigler 4.

Todd Stevens · July 4, 2019 at 9:59 am

There are a couple more of Orient 4 at Vintage Aerials. One from the southeast and southwest, if that’ll help any. I don’t know if you follow KV Models any but check these out:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.