Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Last Layout

Scene from Richard Stoving's last layout.

I think that every model railroader who has built a layout remembers their first one. Mine was a on a 4 by 8 sheet of plywood in my boyhood home. 

First layouts--like other firsts in our lives--live on in memory, often bathed in warm nostalgia. But what about the last layout?

That idea struck me while reading the most recent issue of Model Railroader. In it, Richard Stoving, now in his 70s, wrote that his Hudson River Water Level layout was his last pike.

That got me thinking: Is the Manitoba & Minnesota Sub. my last layout? After I take it down, will I build another?

I'm not as old as Richard (in my late 50s), but I do wonder if this might not be the case. Building a layout is fun, but it also takes space, money and time--and effort and energy.

As we get older, there may be enough of the former, but the latter may feel in short supply.

Scene from my third layout.

And even if we have enough of everything, time marches on, as it always does. At a certain point, there just isn't enough of it to build a new layout.

(I remember reading about how Tony Koester used this arithmetic to decide when take down his Allegheny Midland layout; calculating how many years it would take to build his next dream layout and then counting back to when he needed to dismantle his current one.)

The M & M Sub. is my fourth layout. (Counting the first two I made as a teen, and my third, the Grimm Valley Sub., which existed from 1988-94.) Next year, it will mark its 20th anniversary. It won't last forever. But I like to think I have one more layout in me.

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