by David Koch
2018 has been a great year for the HO model railroad at the Southeastern Railway Museum. The project got off to a slow start after the initial unveiling in 2017 when progress was slowed due to funding issues. A team consisting of museum staff and North Georgia Modurail model railroad club members reformed in late May to restart the project. The excitement came back quickly as the funding issues were solved due to the generosity of team members.
The initial focus was on preparing the layout for operation by the public. Track and rolling stock issues were addressed, a layout control system was implemented, and a museum-quality Plexiglas barrier was installed to allow the public to visualize the story of the Georgia and Tennessee Railroad and the iron ore mining town of Lost Mountain in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
Once trains were running again, the time came to work on completing the scenery. The early scenes set a “high bar” for realism and artistry. New team members worked with the original crew to learn some of the old techniques and also bring some new ideas to the railroad. This collaboration resulted in the beautifully detailed ore mine scene that now sits on the mountain and an engine facility with a classic turntable, round house, and loads of aging steam engines giving way to the diesels making their way onto the American railroad landscape.
The technical experts on our diverse team are presently implementing lights, sound, and automation to the layout and bringing these classic railroad scenes to life. While we complete the basic scenery, we’ve added operating cross bucks and plan crossing gates and street lighting on the main road coming into town. The mine train will soon be operating on a regular basis and the engine facility will come alive with an operating turntable along with the sites and sounds reminiscent of that bygone era of railroading.
After a year of hard work and longs hours, the energy level and enthusiasm is still high. New ideas are being conceived and will soon be implemented to add more public interaction and add to the “wow” factor that we hear so often when folks walk into the exhibit room and see the layout for the first time.