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Tenth anniversary of my GNRR layout

This month marks the tenth anniversary of my Georgia Northeastern model railroad. It is hard to believe that it has been ten years since I began building my layout. The time has flown by! Before construction on the layout began I spent about a year doing research and planning, so once the layout room in the basement was finished I was ready to go.

The bench work was built in my garage and then installed in my train room, which kept the sawdust and dirt out of the house. By November of 2013 all the track was installed and I was running trains on my layout. In Lance Mindheim’s new book, 8 Track Plans for Modern Era Switching Layouts, he mentioned about a “quick launch”, to get trains running quickly, and then back off and enjoy operating before starting scenery. I think that this is one of the reasons than my layout was successful, that quick launch, which helped keep me motivated to continue working on the layout over the years. That is one of the benefits of having a smaller layout, tasks are completed more quickly, which keeps progress moving ahead at a good pace.

Once the track work was done, I started working on the area where I could get the “biggest bang for the buck”, and have a good amount of scenery completed quickly, and that was Tate Yard. The yard covers a large area, but it is mostly track and some basic scenery. Structures are very time consuming to build so working on this area got a lot done quickly, and helped the layout look more finished.

I worked my way around the layout from Tate Yard towards Marietta and my staging cassette. A temporary bridge was installed over the depressed river area to allow operations until I could install the bridge and abutments. The bridge scene over the Etowah River is one of the signature scenes on the layout and I completed it soon after Tate Yard. As each structure was built and added to the layout, temporary structures seen in the construction photos were removed. These place holders gave me a general idea of what would fit and work and helped determine the size of the finished structure.

The final area on the layout that I worked on was the peninsula, I wanted to save this area for last as I figured it had the largest structure and required the most detail. As I worked on the layout over the years my skills improved so it was a good idea to hold off on building this area until the end. Once this area was finished I took a break for a while and just operated the layout and refined my operations plan.

I was “mostly” completed with my layout at the five year mark. All the structures were built and I was hosting regular operating sessions. I have made a few improvements and changes over the past few years, like the expansion of the staging yard covered in my blog posts in March through May 2021. I also added the Universal Alloy facility to my removable section. I guess it is true, a layout is never really “finished”.

Overall I am very pleased with how the layout turned out. The most fun for me are the operating sessions where guests get to see and operate on my layout. One of the most common statements visitors have is “Wow, it is a lot smaller in person that it looks on the videos”. While not very large, by model railroad layout standards, it packs a lot of operations into a small space. If I run three switch jobs back to back, an operating session can take over 3 hours. Not bad for less than 100 square feet of layout room for my model railroad.

People have often asked me, “What’s next? I don’t really know. I think the GNRR layout will still be around for a while. I have several weathering projects on my rolling stock to do, and maybe a locomotive project. My good friend Tom Johnson has coined a phrase, “detailing the details”, in which I plan to go back over the layout and add some more textures and details. Layouts don’t live on forever, I may look into modeling another railroad which of course would center on switching an industrial area or one large complex. Maybe Southern Railway in the 1980s??????

I want to thank everyone that has been following my blog and the progress on my layout over the past ten years. It is through sharing the hobby that we really grow. I have learned so much from so many good friends that it is hard to list them all. For me, it is the friendships that we make through the hobby that makes it special. Thanks for being on this journey with me.

Until next time stay safe and keep model railroading.

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