Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Obituary for a Model Railroad

If an obituary was written for a model railroad, like it is for a person, what might it look like? Maybe like this.

CP Rail Manitoba & Minnesota Subdivision, 1994-2015

After a long and healthy life, the CP Rail Manitoba & Minnesota Subdivision passed away on July 19, 2019. It was 25 years-old.

Born in 1994, the double-deck layout filled a 17 by 21-foot room in a Winnipeg, Manitoba basement.

Basically complete by 2010, it was then significantly altered when the central peninsula—which featured three-levels of tracks—was dismantled and reduced to a single level.

It remained in that state until this year, when plans to move in a year or two resulted in it being taken apart. 

During its lifetime, the M & M Sub. was honoured by being featured in Canadian Railway Modeller (several times), Railroad Model Craftsman (twice) and once in Model Railroader (about its unique use of tree bark for rocks).

Information and photos about it was also included in two Kalmbach how-to books by Tony Koester: Model Railroading from Prototype to Layout and Designing and Building Multi-Deck Layouts.

In addition to being part of many open houses sponsored by the Winnipeg Model Railroad Club (WMRC), the layout was also on the tour schedule for the 2000 NMRA Thousand Lakes Region Millennium Express, the 2005 Golden Rails national convention (marking the fiftieth anniversary of the WMRC), and the 2010 NMRA Thousand Lakes Region Steam on the Prairies convention.

It was also featured on a blog of the same name, and is featured on a YouTube channel with dozens of videos about the layout.

The layout was not without its eccentricities. At a time when most everyone else is using DCC, it remained committed—some might say stuck in the past—to DC (Dinosaur Control).

It also wasn’t embarrassed to use Athearn “blue box” locomotives, even if it was more likely in recent times to find units from Kato, Rapido, Atlas and more modern Athearn pulling trains.

It was similar for rolling stock. Although higher quality items from Atlas, InterMountain, Accurail and others were found in consists, so too were offerings from Athearn “Blue Box,” Roundhouse/MDC, Lionel, Tyco and Bachmann—with new wheels (if required) and weathering. 

One thing the M & M Sub. really enjoyed was having people over, especially children. Nothing beat seeing a kid’s eyes light up when he or she was handed a controller and told to run the train.

Over its lifetime, the layout provided much enjoyment and satisfaction for its owner, and hopefully for many of his friends. It will be missed.

Predeceased by the CP Rail Grimm Valley Sub. (1988-1994), the M & M Sub. is survived by a few hundred of pieces of rolling stock and locomotives, several hundred feet of track, a couple dozen structure, and over 700 trees—and lots of memories.

Tributes in its memory can be made by running a train, patronizing a local hobby shop, reading a model railroad magazine or inviting a child over to your layout to run some trains. 

That, plus raising a glass of your favorite cold beverage. 

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