Model railroad quarry

John’s been back in touch – this time with a model railroad quarry! He’s been busy adding to his fab layout:

“Hi Alistair,

Well, the ‘new’ WV Energy railroad is still slowly coming together.

This time I’ll document the quarry stone handling building (quarry pit to come) and the town of Craig, WV.

The quarry. Staying with mining and mining type industries, I decided to add a stone quarry to the layout.

I’ve added the stone processing part of the quarry and am working on the quarry pit. It turns out that the quarry pit is more complicated than I thought.

I’ve been carving foam for a few days and have enough magnetic foam pieces stuck to me and my clothes and tools to make several Styrofoam coolers.

Anyway, the pit, once carved out of foam will be glued to the underside of the layout deck. I’ll document that foam adventure separately.

The quarry rock processing structure is a complicated model with a lot of operational possibilities, and the tracks to it will be a separate DC analogue block with it’s own power-pack.

I still have to add more trash and old stuff as well as a building or 2, probably some kind of office structure for the business end of operating a quarry.

Now to the town. The research I’ve done of the towns of Appalachia coal country proved sometimes to be depressing. These little coal towns prospered in the 40’s to 80’s with some coming to life and remaining alive, and others passing into history. Of those that have managed to survive, shall we say, the blush is well off the rose.

My little town is somewhere in between likely desertion and unlikely renewal. It’s based on 500 towns in Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky. The closest I have visited is Laeger West Virginia, next is Thurmond, an actual deserted town also in West Virginia. I plan to add the Thurmond portion across the main line tracks, like the real town. These will be ¼ deep against the backdrop.

My town is called Craig, and is a simple place where a few businesses are open, the only real buildings in reasonable shape are the Court house and the Blue Barrister building where lawyers have part-time offices for the 1 week a month when the Circuit Court is hearing cases. Road repair and general upkeep have fallen away. About 1/3 of the businesses are closed, some of the buildings boarded up.

In my travels through many such towns I noticed a depressing lack of people on the sidewalks and in the businesses. Many have just the business owner waiting for a customer. (sigh) I always stop in and buy something, mostly stuff I don’t need, talk to them and get their history…they need all the help they can get.

Anyway, before this gets to morose, some good news – I can now run trains from the lift bridge all the way around to the other end of the bridge, and most of the time back the train all the way around the other way.

I say most of the time because I have found that the best way to check track and how well cars work is to back a train, the physical dynamics of backing cars will find every rough spot, and help pinpoint where track repair is needed.

One last point and picture. At the end of the big valley bridges in several previous articles I added some tunnel openings and a part of the mountain. This helps mask the workbench lurking just after the big valley.

Take care miniature world creators all over the world, and again thanks Al for all you do!

John From Baltimore”

bridge to model railroad quarry

main street model train

main street model train buildings

main street model train buildings

main street sidings

main street model railroad

model train old weathered building

model railroad quarry

model railroad quarry

A huge big thankyou to John.

I think John’s layout is another fine example of how picking a theme really makes a layout stand out.

There was one line in his narrative that paints a vivid picture:

“My little town is somewhere in between likely desertion and unlikely renewal”

You only have to glance at his pics and see he’s nailed that. It really made me smile.

If you want to see John’s last post, it’s here: HO scale coal mine

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if today is the day you get started on your layout, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

PPS More HO scale train layouts here if that’s your thing.

17 Responses to Model railroad quarry

  1. Peter Bayley-Bligh says:

    Definitely m`tches the theme and the dialogue shows just how much research has been put into it – great.

  2. George Zaky says:

    I just was covered in styrofoam bits that would not leave my hand due to static electricity. LOL . Cant wait to see your completed quarry area. Your work is outstanding and a standard some of us only wish we could attain. Thank you so much for the submission. It was terrific.
    Big Al- much thanks

  3. Ruben Simon says:

    Great track checking tip, to back up the train! Thanks, John.

  4. Rob McCrain says:

    John from Baltimore, you have done a great job on your layout. It really has a great feel about it. I agree that having a theme can help a layout be memorable. The rough ramshackle look of the town reinforces the coal mining area ambiance. Way to go. Rob McCrain

  5. Brian Olson says:

    Always fun to see the variety of approaches we all have in our layouts. Each and everyone unique and full of great ideas.

  6. Gary M from Long Island says:

    John……nice to see wires running fron utility poles and especially spanning across the street to buildings. Many modelers forget that little detail which adds a great touch. Also great job on weathering the streets and rooftops.

  7. Mike Balog says:

    Hi John:
    You really captured the era in the Theme of your layout. Liked the Coal Operation.With the elevated track to the building with the conveyor belt units. Do you have any “Coal” in those conveyor cars? Also, what gauge wire did you use for the Electrical Wire going from the Poles and to the Buildings? How did you power those lights on the poles and buildings? Thanks.. Mike In N.H. U.S.A.

  8. Harold Payne says:

    This is a great job of scenic work from the buildings to the power wires.
    The only down side is when the building inspector shows up.
    Good luck on an interesting layout

  9. Marklin ed says:

    Well John thanks for the narrative, wonderful looking layout. Keep us updated please.
    Of cause thanks to Al also.

  10. Richard H Chapple Sr says:

    I really enjoy studying your pictures full of lots of good detail, one little detail that caught my eye was the red pickup parked in town that replaced his driver door at some point in time with a green one, cool little detail. And the wiring from pole to pole and building to building sure adds a lot of realism to the scenes.
    Very nice.
    the little r from Hardin Mt USA

  11. william janmes palmer says:


  12. John from Baltimore says:

    The wiring along the poles is from the copper sold in craft stores for stringing beads and jewelry, When I have long stretches of wiring I use EZ Line sold by Tichey Train Group, it’s elastic. The lamps are LED’s and powered from below, actually the town was laid out on thin plywood and the lamp-posts and wiring affixed to the bottom of that sheet before all the buildings were attached to the top side. This allowed the tiny wires to be soldered to bus wiring and all glued to the plywood. No crawling around under the layout.
    The industry in this “episode” is a rock quarry, the coal mines are on another part of the layout.
    Thanks to all who commented on the town. I appreciate it.

  13. TJK says:

    Very nice job John. I really like how the roads show tremendous deterioration..
    Very real….

  14. Andrew Wass says:

    One of the best models I have seen in a long while.

  15. $100Bill says:

    I have seen so many layouts with street lights and power poles but, they have no wires. Taking the time to add that detail looks to be well worth the effort.

  16. robert dale tiemann says:

    very nice good lighting.

  17. Robert Brady says:

    That 4 way cross over is the bomb ,Always wanted one of them too much $ 00.
    Great layout
    The Critic

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