Our story begins in June of 2009. After recently completing work on my second N Scale Layout, the Port Royal & Yemassee, I got bored with it in short order. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed nearly every aspect of building that layout. Before long however, I started noticing its many shortcomings.
For one thing, as you can see, the track plan is rather boring. It consists of nothing more than a loop with a passing siding and a dead end industrial siding. Also the town of Yemassee, seen at the top right corner of the layout just looks plunked down randomly without a plan. That’s because it was plunked down without any sort of a plan. It looked more like a smooshed in jumble of buildings than a town. Also, the roads came out terribly, all bumpy and oversized. And how about the humongous overpass? It looks totally out of place. Also about 50% of the track clings to the edge of the layout, a major design pet peeve of mine. I believe trains look best running through the scenery as opposed to around it.
Another major shortcoming was my choice to model the South Carolina low country. The low country is beautiful but there’s a reason people don’t model it. It’s flat and boring. No tunnels, no canyons and no big rock formations. The PR&Y was designed by simply going to the local hobby shop, procuring some random pieces of Atlas section track and kanoodaling with them until I came up with the plan. At the time I just wanted a place to run my small amount of N Scale stuff and not much more; the scenery came later. Towards the end of the project I was starting to amass more and more locomotives and cars and damn it I wanted to show them off.
In May of 2009, opportunity came knocking and a new job brought me to Upstate South Carolina. I finally had an apartment of my own and that meant I could finally build the layout I really wanted. In service of that goal I sat down and came up with a list of features I wanted to incorporate.
That list included:
- At least two main lines to allow two trains to run at the same time. In fact three would be ideal.
- Dramatic scenery with mountains and tunnels, canyons, rivers and waterfalls.
- Over-under crossings on the main lines. Trains crossing over each other are, in my opinion one of the most dramatic scenes one can have on a model railroad.
- A town with a planned out look and no hodge-podge of buildings.
- A theme of industry and railroading as opposed to the PR&Y’s “theme” of trains running through the woods. In the real world railroads serve industries and I want to make that a focal point.
- Realistic roads. For this I’ll turn to Woodland Scenics “road system.”
- A plan of action, no more design by the seat of my pants.