Wednesday, November 15, 2023

The 2023 Great Lakes Getaway

For a number of years, the Detroit-area prototype operating folks have held a fall event called the “Great Lakes Getaway” or GLG, usually in odd-numbered years. I’ve just returned from this year’s edition of the GLG. As always, there were excellent layouts and an equally excellent cast of visiting operators, many of them highly experienced and very competent. This is among the small number of operating weekends that I enjoy enough to want to return as often as I can.  

Our first layout (an “extra” outside the GLG schedule) was Andy Keeney’s Nashville Road, an amalgam of several mid-fifties railroads across Tennessee. It’s a very large layout, with some striking scenes and a number of areas still under development. We moved a lot of trains and really enjoyed the layout.

One thing I especially admired was the simple but quite effective backdrops. There is always that balance to be struck between “generic” and “specific.” You can see in the photo below the painting techniques, and how effective it is to include a few appropriately-sized photos of structures.

One of the great pleasures for me in this event was another visit to Bill Neale’s superb PRR layout, set in 1939 on the Panhandle Division west of Pittsburgh (I described it extensively in a post about ProRail in 2021, at: ). I had earlier shown a few scenes from the layout taken at the GLG in 2017, as you can see here:

This time around, I was yardmaster at Weirton Yard, where I’ve been assistant yardmaster but never yardmaster. With the able assistance of Travers Stavac as assistant, the job went smoothly. I’ve shown the yard in both those previous posts, so won’t show it again, but here’s a nice view of a westward train coming off the Panhandle Bridge across the Ohio River into Steubenville, Ohio.

The following day I had drawn Scott Kremer’s excellent Great Northern layout. The scenery here is really impressive, capturing the look of the Cascades in Washington state, with the GN climbing over them, from Wenatchee in the east, to Skykomish on the west. (I was yardmaster at Skykomish.) As I said to Scott as we were leaving, “Thanks for letting us spend a few hours in the Cascades.” One feature I liked was the ice deck at Wenatchee, large enough to show that it means business.

Scott has put a lot of effort into waybills for the layout, and he credits my own ideas for helping him get to his attractive system. Below are shown typical empty and loaded bills to show how they look. Both have “overlay” parts so they can convey what’s needed. Each has a letter code to help operators know where they are destined.

Another favorite layout is Doug Tagsold’s outstanding Colorado & Southern, effectively in 1:72 scale (using HO scale track to represent 3-foot gauge). As with Bill Neale’s layout, I’ve operated here before (see, for example, an earlier post about GLG: ) and looked forward to another visit. 

The layout is even bigger than before, a new sunroom added to the house making possible a new part of the basement. Here’s just one example of things Doug does really well, managing a street scene headed right into the backdrop. It’s in the layout’s Georgetown, Colorado. Click on the image to enlarge it, and you’ll see how well done it is. And note the actual Colorado mountain photograph used as a backdrop.

Finally, on Sunday we had another “extra” layout, John DePauw’s immense EJ&E, set in 1973, if I remember correctly. I was in charge of the (working!) hump at Kirk Yard in Gary, toward the east end of the EJ&E. As throughout the layout, photo backdrops have been used very effectively. Below is an overall view of this yard, with the hump in the distance.

Overall, a great set of layouts and thus a great five days of operation. A bit of a long haul, but very much worth it. Thanks to all the layout hosts for their efforts, and especially to Doug Tagsold, who managed the overall program. Another fine GLG in the books.

Tony Thompson

No comments:

Post a Comment