Re-Designing the GM&O Eastern Division

(continued from the home page)...


In addition to the reorientation, the following elements have been added or enhanced:

Wann Yard has been expanded to 5 tracks on the east yard and an approximate increase in car capacity to 80 cars from 45. The main yard is now approached by crossovers at both ends off the NYC Big Four main line. A new switching lead (per the prototype!) extends north paralleling the Big Four and a south lead at Wood River tower connects to the Illinois Terminal's Steam Division providing another switching lead to the south.

The Shell Oil Refinery at Roxana has been redesigned based upon a prototype track diagram recently found courtesy of the T.R.R.A. Historical Society!

Venice Yard has been laid out around a curve leading into a multi-track, stub-ended staging yard. The two main tracks will continue beyond the stop block temporarily in place on the benchwork. These tracks will lead down to 30" above floor level where a reversing loop is planned. A three-track storage yard will also be placed on the approach benchwork.

The peninsula has been literally flipped with the end encountered upon entering the railroad room. This allows us to model downtown Alton with lots of switching opportunities to come. The Cut-Off line will run behind the scene (hidden by building flats and scenery). This relocates Godfrey to the opposite side of the peninsula from its current location with the Old Main Line climbing a steep grade to also reach Godfrey. The peninsula flip allowed me to move Venice Yard out from under Ridgely and add additional tracks and a second St. Louis/Mobile staging yard for freight trains and transfer runs to work out of. NYC also gets its own yard (sort of!) with a two-track yard for Brooklyn Yard.

The need for more towns between Springfield and Girard has been addressed with the addition of Brighton and Carlinville and a lengthening of Girard.

Nilwood is a small town with only a short team track and elevator. It seemed to be a good addition to the railroad's re-design plan after the fact. We wanted to have longer runs between major sidings/towns and I like having a series of scenes as you progress around the railroad. The natural view blocks of going around corners really make this work. In addition, I look for scenic elements that make natural view blocks such as the C&NW overhead bridge which will be located near the end of the left photo crossing overhead at a 45 degree angle. In addition, a state highway parallels the GM&O and is also crossed overhead in that element. Just beyond the end of this new benchwork will be the south end of Girard siding.

Upon entering Girard we have now risen from the base height of 38" above floor to 52" and we officially enter the middle deck having completed the first spiral.

These two shots are the second deck with the resident track inspector (Chessie!) making certain that the rail is laid true-tangent! This Route 66 scene was salvaged from the old second deck and was previously located north of Normal. The picture on the right is the Sangamon River bridge with the river channel area ready for scenery. The rails are not yet attached to the bridge but soon will be! In the distance (where the backdrop is not painted) is the north switch for Ridgely.

Here we have Ridgely tower and the south yard ladders. Preliminary trackwork is taking place right now in downtown Springfield in the right picture.

Here's where it's going to get dicey! In this view you can see all four decks in their approximate final heights and positions. On the bottom is Middle Yard (Venice) leading to E. St. Louis staging. The second deck is Nilwood followed by Normal on the 3rd deck. Finally, the location of Glenn Yard (Chicago) is in the nosebleed section. There IS clearance for tall equipment between the rail and the center beam of the house! We are going to try to lower this a bit. From Glenn to Brighton Park is approximately 24 feet of benchwork which will be limited to passenger trains and a few transfer runs to/from staging. Definitely a step-box in MY future for this section when it is installed!

As of October 20th, the railroad is operational from St. Louis all the way to Bloomington! Marty Harrison has been meticulously wiring the track feeders and power bus runs and has been the best addition to my work crew I could have hoped to have found!

The middle deck contains Girard, Iles, Springfield, Ridgely Yard, Sherman, and Lincoln/Athol along the perimeter walls of the room. On the peninsula we find a relocated Atlanta. Bloomington Yard stayed in its original location but was flipped 180 degrees and Normal will be relocated to the west side of the peninsula. Both of these towns are now 4 inches lower in elevation, a REAL boon for your's truly at 5' 9" tall!!!

On leaving Normal the railroad has climbed to the upper deck level of 62 inches. Chenoa (also flipped 180) and Pontiac swap positions on the upper deck and the town of Dwight is added along the south wall. Passing the door to the room we find Mazonia where the Main Line and Pequot Line diverge. A brief representation of Braidwood and the coal mining in the area rounds the corner followed by South Joliet Yard, Joliet, Argo/Summit, and Glenn Yard.

All freight trains will now terminate at Glenn Yard rather than head into staging. After Glenn Yard we pass LeMoyne and Corwith interlockings and arrive at Brighton Park and Panhandle Crossing. This is the major reason for the re-design, actually!

I felt that with the recent decommissioning of Brighton Park's famous manual interlocking it simply HAD to be modeled! This is the last visible element on the railroad before the line turns into Chicago staging. The Panhandle Line will include at least two live interchanges for transfer runs to/from Glenn Yard.

Operationally the railroad is going to get even more interesting in the coming months just in time for the ProTrak Weekend in November! It's good to have the old gang back working on the railroad together again! Thanks to Nick, Kevin, Bob and Amy, and Marty (our newcomer!) for all of their help lately and in the weeks to come as the re-designed GM&O takes shape!!!

Click your back button on your browser to return to the GM&O Eastern Division Home Page!!! Check back soon for photos of the new construction and revisions!