Saturday, November 17, 2012

Great Model Railroad: Lyle Beck's Lake Michigan Division of the Wisconsin & Michigan

A scene from Lyle's Lake Michigan
Division of the W & M.

Earlier this year I was able to feature Dave Rickaby's Wisconsin & Michigan layout.  It was the first time that photos of that great layout, featured in the January, 1995 and June, 2002 issues of Model Railroader, had appeared on the Web.

As I noted in that earlier post, I wanted to feature Dave's layout because of its quality and operational concept. But I also liked it because of how it was twinned with Lyle Beck's layout of the same railroad. And now I get to feature photos of Lyle's great layout on the Web for the first time, too.

The two friends met in 1983 through a local hobby shop. Although they didn't know each other, they discovered they were modelling the same railroad—the Wisconsin & Michigan. Despite modelling different eras, they settled on a common paint scheme, herald and numbering scheme for locomotives.

The main difference was that where Dave modelled the Western Division of the W & M in the 1960s, Lyle modelled the Lake Michigan Division in the in the 1990s.

(The Wisconsin & Michigan was actually a real railroad; it existed from 1894 to 1938. Dave and Lyle modelled it as if it never disappeared. This is something I have taken to calling "faction"—a combination of fact and fiction. It's a concept I used on my own layout, which is loosely modelled after a real line owned by CN. On my layout, it is owned by CP Rail.)

Lyle’s layout ran from Marinette in the south to Everett Junction, then continued to Iron Mountain and Monarch Mine. It featured unit coal, grain, taconite and double-stack trains, along with an intermodal yard and rotary dumper. At least 18 trains ran during an operating session.

As with Dave's layout, I am speaking of the Lake Michigan Division in the past tense—it is gone now (taken down in 2011). Lyle is no longer modelling the W&M; he has turned his attention to the C&NW and the Milwaukee Road in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Dave was kind enough to send me some photos he took of Lyle's layout before it was dismantled—allowing me to also feature that great model railroad on my blog. Enjoy!

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