Maine Central, Lamoille Valley

Maine Central, Lamoille Valley
Click image to link to my web site,

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

My model railroad background

(Note: The idea for this web log was inspired by a similar blog by Mike Hamer. Mike actually hosts a few blogs, including the blog and the blog. Both are very interesting with great pictures and I highly recommend a visit to both)

My interest in model railroading goes back to having trains when I was young. My parent's gave me HO trains at Christmas and helped me set up a 4' x 8' layout in the basement. They supported my "hobby" by giving me additional gifts of cars, structures, etc. as I grew up (in the 1970s). Meanwhile, our family would go camping each summer in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. At this time, the Maine Central ran regularly through the area, Crawford Notch and Twin Mountain, on its way to St. Johnsbury, Vermont or back to Portland, Maine. Seeing these trains helped cement my interest in railroading and model railroading.

One Christmas, my parent's included a Railroad Model Craftsman magazine with my gifts. Included in this issue, the October 1980 issue, was an article about the ball signal at Whitefield, NH. Wow! This was a place I had been to. Along with the other articles and photos, this feature helped me realize that playing with trains could be based on what was going on out on the real railroads. I would say this is the point that I became a model railroader. I started getting more copies of RMC, including back issues, and started learning a lot about model railroading. The Editor's Notebook column in RMC written by Tony Koester really influenced how I perceived model railroading should be done, how things should be based on the prototype and how operations could really enhance your enjoyment of the hobby.

At this point, my main prototype knowledge was the current day Maine Central running through New Hampshire. That became my modeling focus and remains so to this day. It was probably the purchase of the MEC by Guilford and the abandonment of the Mountain Division through NH that kept my interest locked into 1980 or so.

My model railroading was helped along by having the good fortune of quality hobby shop in my hometown, Sattler's Hobby Shop, in Westmont, NJ. I was lucky enough to also work there for a little over 1 year while I was in high school. It was from Sattler's that I learned about the Gateway Model Railroad club and soon I was visiting their large layout in Gloucester. I soon became a member and learned many new skills over the next few years. I also had the good fortune to meet Glenn Salvatore and his wife Diane, members that also had an interest in New England railroads. (The top picture on this post was taken by Glenn in 1981). Soon after Glenn and Diane moved into a new home, we set up the South Jersey workshop, a modeling group that functioned like a club, but without the politics, dues and other "club" issues.

Our first project was a pair of HO modules based on North Stratford, NH. These would be my first "real" model railroad as I would consider it as it was fully wired, had scenery and was used in a few local modular set ups. Next, we started work on Glenn's layout, which featured the Rutland line between Bellows Falls and Rutland, VT. We met weekly at Glenn's for a number of years, and had the layout open for a local NJ Division NMRA Meet. We also started a layout in my home based on the Mountain Division between Bartlett, NH and St. Johnsbury, VT. Sadly, Glenn's health deteriorated and I lost my good model railroad friend in 2000. (I do remain freinds with Diane, who has since moved to NY state.)

In 2002, we moved into a new home with a nice basement and plans were underway for a new railroad. I knew I would still want to model the Maine Central in New England and the timeframe would be the late 1970s to early 1980s as that was the focus for much of my model building and research. How I came to choose the theme for my current model railroad will be the topic for a future post.


Mike Sherbak said...

Hi Mike
Nice posting. I am a big fan and frequent vistitor to Mike Hamer's and Chris Lyon's blogspot and now I can add yours to the list !
I am currently deplyed to Iraq and have just over 80 days to go before I redeploy (go home) !

Best regards,
Mike Sherbak

Mike Hamer said...

Hi Mike
Wow! What a terrific start to what I know will be a fabulous weblog! I really enjoyed reading how you got your start in the hobby and how much the people you met along the way have meant to you. Yes, this is the best hobby in the world!

Mike, your model railroad is a fabulous one and I can't wait to see more pics posted here at your new weblog!

Your Canadian friend,
Mike Hamer

Chris Lyon said...

Very nice Blog ...This must be the world of Mike's. Always interested in seeing progress on the new layout. Looking forward to future posts.

lamoilletrain said...

Hello Mike,
I am new to blog sessions, but an old chap regarding model rr, and my interests and layout rest on...CP rail, Newport- ST-J area.
My own RRis the ''Lamoille, Massawippi &St François railroad.
I am in n scale and live in Québec City.
As time permits, I will relay to you model pics as well as real pics
of what might be of interest to you.
Regards,Guy Laurin

Lisa Herbik said...

You have a very nice blog Mike. Great details.

My husband is a huge model rr fan and hobbyist. Our basement is his workshop/shrine. He is presently working on the Bleeker Street subway station (NYC) in what used to be our dining room (!).

A lot of the model rr's have little or no background scenery. You can get a nice panoramic background image here: We also make custom scenery. Just wanted to get the word out. Thanks!

Unknown said...

Hi, Mike-not sure if this is still an active blog or not-I googled Sattler's and found this... I grew up in Magnolia and have memories of Sattler's back to 1961 until 1988. I miss Mrs Sattler-everybody's HO fairy godmother come true. Saw Bruce about a year ago-hard to believe he's retirement age! I moved to Maine in '88 and I dispatch on the St Lawrence and Atlantic and worked with George Melvin, author of all thoes MEC in Color books til he retired. I model Rdg/PRR/PC branchline stuff but am still a member of the Eastern Maine Modell RR Club. If you come up to the Amherstbig "E" show in Springfield, MA stop by and say hi!
Mitch Kennedy
Lewiston ME