And tonight on Jeopardy for model railroaders, it’s name that layout!
This layout has a devoted Facebook group with over 1,600 members created not by the layout owner, but by its fans.
Its used locomotives sell for hundreds and even thousands of dollars on eBay.
A major manufacturer made rolling stock featuring its logo.
Answer: What is special about the Utah Belt?
Did you guess right?
If there ever was a Jeopardy for model railroaders, those could be some of the challenges posed by the host about Eric Brooman’s Utah Belt.
Many people are familiar with UB, as it is known. For those of you who aren’t, a bit of background.
Set in the U.S. southwest, the HO scale UB is a gorgeous freelance bridge line built by Eric.
The 165-foot long mainline runs around the walls and a centre peninsula, connecting two staging yards stacked over each other.
Now in its second iteration, it is known for a unusual feature—it is always set in the present. Eric constantly updates the line, per prototypical practice.
This means that older power is sold off, allowing him to purchase newer locomotives.
These older units end up on eBay, where they sometimes sell for over $2,500.
As for that Facebook group, called the Utah Belt Historical Society, it is “dedicated to preserving the history of Utah Belt Railroad created by Eric Brooman . . . the group is set up to be a place to enjoy the models and history of this fantastic model railroad.”
The group features posts where people write and ask questions about the layout, show photos of the actual UB (as it is known), and photos of locomotives and rolling stock they’ve painted into that scheme.
What is sometimes surprising is the questions sound like they are about a real railway—a testament to Eric’s abilities as a modeller.
Like this question, for example.
“Before the more modern era of late-90s early-2000s did the Utah Belt ever operate any unit coal trains or were they just coal drags made up of loads from multiple mines?” (Answer: “This photo shows unit coal trains were part of the UB back in 1978.”)
Another common question has to do with making your own UB locomotives and rolling stock. (Something made possible by the availability of commercial decals.)
The answer is yes, you can do it—"as long as you don't try to pass it off as an original Belt engine or car, he [Eric] is fine with it.”
As for me, I’ve long been admirer of the UB, and Eric’s unique approach to staying current. I'm not alone, as the Facebook group attests.
But Eric's not a member. According to someone who knows him, he’s not on social media at all. And why would he need to be? He's got his own wonderful world in his basement!
Click here for a collection of photos of the UB by Mike Sosalla. Click here for a video of the layout by the good folks at Model Railroader.
Click here for a collection of photos and articles on the Georgia Transportation Facebook page.
And click here for more photos and text from the Gateway NMRA.