Sunday, November 12, 2023

Layout origins: Shumala

Some time back, I wrote a series of blog posts about the origins of my layout. I began with a summary of what had survived from the original layout in Pittsburgh, PA to be moved to California, much of it drawn from a cover story in Railroad Model Craftsman (RMC) magazine (June 1990). That brief account can be found at this link:

I then decided to show more about the origins of my major town of Ballard. There were several of these, beginning with some ancient history (see: ) and following that up with some specifics about Ballard (you can see it here: ) . 

With that history out of the way, I went on to describe the process of rebuilding some major layout areas touching Ballard, after the move to California. There were several of these, and I won’t mention all the posts, but the beginning one might be of interest (it is located at this link: ). 

What I haven’t shown is the comparable origin story for what is now the town of Shumala. As it happens, that was the locale for my cover shot on the June 1990 RMC. At that time, instead of the imaginary SP branch that it is today, the railroad was the imaginary short line, Lompoc & Cuyama. The RMC designers even included the L&C emblem on the cover.

There in the distance you can see what looks like a tower. Indeed it is. It’s a modified Campbell kit for the prototype Santa Fe tower-plus-depot that they called Kiowa Junction. And at that time, this layout town was named Jalama, for a real place on the California coast (in fact, there is a California State Beach there — and a hamburger stand that I wanted to model). 

But when I decided the layout really ought to model the SP, this Santa Fe-prototype structure really had to go. I replaced it with a scratchbuilt depot, closely following the SP prototype plans for the Sylmar, California depot (for more, see: ).

But this is after the area had been developed. I have very few photos of this town in the earliest days, but here is one. You can see at center left that trackwork is underway, toward what would become the engine terminal. Also at left, the corner of Coastal Citrus is just visible, an industry now relocated to Santa Rosalia. And the ice deck and ice house at photo center are just a couple of mock-ups. And in the upper right background, only two of today’s structures, the general store and the snack bar, are present.

A nice view onto the layout from just beyond the depot, a different version of which was in the RMC article, shows the features just discussed, but now the ice house and ice deck have been built. Coastal Citrus is still back there.

Another big difference: though I had built a Diamond Scale turntable in Pittsburgh and installed it, there was nothing else. I had long intended that an engine house or roundhouse would accompany the turntable. Finally in 2013 I began to build it, beginning stages shown below (for more, see: ).

These glimpses of what used to be at Jalama (as it then was) and at Shumala (as it is now named) are interesting to me, if for no other reason because they show how far parts of the layout have come. I will continue with additional looks into the past in future posts.

Tony Thompson

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