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Kinzer Hurt’s First Coast Railroad and plans for modeling the Hartwell Railroad

The First Coast Railroad crew switches the Nassau Terminals warehouse on Kinzer Hurt's layout. Photo by Kinzer Hurt

This month I hosted Kinzer Hurt for an ops session on my layout. In addition, Kinzer brought his newly painted and weathered locomotives for the Hartwell Railroad for a video and photo shoot.

The Nassau Terminals warehouse featured in his RMC article. Photo by Kinzer Hurt

For those that have not already heard about Kinzer, he is a very talented young model railroader that is making his mark in the hobby. He had an article in the December 2022 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman titled Scratchbuild a Florida Warehouse where he described the steps he took to model the Nassau Terminals warehouse based on the prototype structure in Fernandina Beach, Florida. He did an amazing job on the structure and article.

The FCRD crew departs the yard enroute to the Nassau Terminals warehouse. Photo by Kinzer Hurt

Kinzer is currently modeling the First Coast Railroad (FCRD), a short line operated by Genesee & Wyoming from Yulee to Fernandina Beach, Florida. FCRD was founded in 2005 and operates on former Seaboard Air Line Railroad trackage, currently leased by CSX. The FCRD interchanges with CSX at Yulee, Florida.

Kinzer’s layout is designed as a portable tabletop benchwork style as he was a college student living in an apartment at the time he built it. The layout is prototype based on the Fernandina Beach, Florida area switched by the FCRD. The layout is 10’ X 2’ and operations are primarily focused around switching the Nassau Terminals warehouse. A small yard on one end of the layout provides car storage and serves as visible staging. He has done a fantastic job of capturing the look of the prototype. Kinzer’s First Coast Railroad will be featured in the upcoming 2025 issue of Model Railroad Planning that hits newsstands in January 2025. Be sure to pick up a copy to see more about Kinzer’s layout.

With a recent move, and graduation from college, Kinzer is planning a new layout. The layout will be based on the Hartwell Railroad (HRT), a shortline operated on three separate segments by the Great Walton Railroad Company. Kinzer will be modeling the Bowersville, Georgia area and the operations around serving a grain elevator located there.

Before building his new layout he began by acquiring locomotives based on the prototype units that work the line. Kinzer custom painted and weathered the locomotives from prototype photos. The Hartwell Railroad units have a lot of “character” as they have been acquired from various prototype railroads and have seen better days. You can find prototype photos of the locomotives on the Railroad Pictures Archive website, search under HRT in the Short Lines tab. Having the locomotive fleet for his new layout completed allows him to focus on building the layout now that construction has begun.

HRT locomotive number 1973, a former Conrail GP38, awaits it's next assignment.

Rusted and well worn, former Rio Grande GP35 number 3044, still is working on the Hartwell line.

A roster shot of the three Hartwell locomotives, featuring former EJ&E SD38, now HRT 654 on the right.

Kinzer brought over his locomotives and we operated them on my layout, taking photos and videos at various locations that look similar to the area he is going to model. Kinzer did a great job of weathering the locomotives and it was a very enjoyable day.

To see more about Kinzer’s First Coast Railroad layout, and follow his progress on the new layout, you can find him on the following social media platforms.

With model railroaders like Kinzer Hurt, the hobby is in great hands for the next generation.

Until next time, stay safe and keep model railroading.

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5 comentarios

Impressive! The rail has to be some of the most realistic I have seen.

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Excellent! I love shortlines with passed down second to a dozen hands locos, aquired for operations from fallen flags, or just older and victims of replacment by tech updated railroad rousters. Looks like a very talented young man. His current layout has a very realistic prototypical look and style to it. I look forward to seeing where this young man's modeling skill takes us in the future! God Bless and happy modeling everyone!

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I work for the county on Amelia Island and see the FCRD and Fernandina Beach quite a lot. The models of the buildings and the layout look exactly like the real thing!!

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As someone who lived in Jacksonville for 30+ years and spent many pleasant days in Fernandina, I can tell you Kinzers depiction of that entire area is absolutely spot on! Can't wait to see what he does next.

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Holy cow! The weathering on the locos is AMAZING! Would love to learn about his process. If Kinzer’s skill at his age is at this level already, I imagine he’s going to become one of the top luminaries in the hobby. Very well done! And thanks Tom for introducing him to us!

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