Modeling a 60s railroad

Jack’s been in touch – he’s been Modeling a 60s railroad:

“Hi Al,

Thanks for your interest in posting the progress on my layout.

Chesterfield is a fictitious town in Vermont in the 50s/60s. It is a typical New England town comprised of turn of the century buildings.

There are a variety of businesses, the Regal Movie Theater, Joe’s gas station / garage, a firehouse and a small park with Tracy’s lunch wagon housed in a repurposed trolley. (That is a nod to my wife whose name is Tracy).

Down one level from Main Street is the rail yard with a passenger station that is accessible by a staircase at the trolley stop on Main Street.

North Street crosses Main and over the rail yard with a bridge. Pete Smith, a local boy, earns a living selling papers down at the train station.

Modeling a 60s railroad

model railroad tram

Modeling a 60s railroad

HO scale firehouse

Modeling a 60s railroad

HO scale diner

Modeling a 60s railroad:

Modeling a 60s railroad

model train track yard

Modeling a 60s railroad

Above the firehouse is a fire tower that protects the valley.

Also up on the hill is Jeremiah’s dairy farm. The family farm has a number of dairy cows, a greenhouse, a small orchard and of course a farmhouse and barn. Unfortunately the elder Jeremiah recently passed away and the interment is happening at the First Congregational church as we speak.

Above the farm there is a small cabin belonging to Ed Johnson who just wants to be by himself and only takes his pickup truck to town when absolutely necessary.

model train tunnels

Modeling a 60s railroad

HO scale farm

Modeling a 60s railroad

HO scale model train cemetry

Modeling a 60s railroad

Modeling a 60s railroad

Down in the valley is the rural part of town with Chesterfield Creek, which is crossed over by a typical New England covered bridge.

There is also a small foot bridge that allows folks from the farm to walk down into the valley. That foot path allows access to the Chesterfield Water Company water tower.

There is still a lot to do but so far we have Interstate oil and gas, the First Congregational church with cemetery, some housing, a Kentucky Fried Chicken (the first fast food to arrive in Chesterfield), and a freight depot.

model train bridge

Modeling a 60s railroad

ho scale water tower

HO scale cement factory

HO scale steam locomotive

HO scale KFC

HO Scale trucks house

Modeling a 60s railroad

Trains run on two loops, one of which is accessed from the rail yard. There is a crossover which allows trains to switch from one loop to the other. The trolley run on Main Street, loops through town, around the park and in and out of a tunnel.

It is a relatively small layout, tucked in the corner of our garage in Florida. Because of the size I decided not to invest in DCC and just run DC.

I used pink foam instead of plywood for the base layer. This allowed me to carve out the creek and just by punching holes I can install trees, lamp posts etc. The mountains were constructed of white Styrofoam packing sheets, layered up and covered in drywall compound, painted black and highlighted with grey.

Because it is in a corner, the whole layout is on casters so I can wheel it out into the garage to work on it and the foam base helped keep it light. The background is also 1” pink foam for rigidity and is attached to the garage wall with Velcro strips.


A huge big thank you to Jack for sharing his layout. A stunner!

I always think the layouts with a theme turn out the best and modeling a 60s railroad is a lot of fun too.

I didn’t have time to make a ‘spot on’ track layout, but this one is close enough for you all I hope:

HO scale track plan

It’s kinda close but not spot on.

Lastly, Tom, has asked a good question on the forum. Can anyone help?

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.

model train answers

14 Responses to Modeling a 60s railroad

  1. Don says:

    the graveyard scene was awesome as was the farm & Kentucky Fried Chicken

  2. Rich B. says:

    Certainly well thought out and constructed. Ranks right up there, just one thing. Doesn’t look as land flocking, ballast/gravel was ever sprayed down with Elmers… very noticeable all the loose debris all over everywhere’s with this scale.

    Rich, Regards

  3. Stephen Hill says:

    Nicely done, very keen detail and an overall fun looking layout , a great place to escape to . Good job following your theme , would be nice to retreat back to the 60’s , seems like it represents a lost America .

  4. Brian Olson says:

    So much to like here, especially the small scenes. Great storage underneath as well.

  5. Bryan Mattimore says:

    Since Jack (and Tracy) are our great friends, my wife Hazel and I got to see Jack’s creation “live and in-person” last year when we vacationed with them. Jack is also a talented photographer (as you can tell from the photos), but of course nothing is quite like seeing something “up-close and personal.” I’m hoping Jack will take my suggestion and offer to give a mini-history lessons/tours to elementary school students in his area. Experiential — and cross-discipline — learning is the future! Expanding on this original idea, Jack could also do these tours virtually and offer them to literally any school in the country — or the world for that matter! I think we need to get him a striped railroad engineer’s cap though to complete the look!

  6. Steve Ruple says:

    Awesome layout Jack, a simple track plan with a lot of scenery ideas, well done.

  7. Kirk Knutson says:

    I like Chesterfield! Very cool.

    Kirk in Tacoma

  8. John M. says:

    Nice layout, and it could have been almost perfect except for the trees. I have seldom seen such unrealistic, artificial trees. It would appear that no thought at all was given to the quality or placement.

  9. Eric says:

    Love the layout. Giving ideas for my O gauge which is on my lanai (patio), since the boss took over the garage for a She Shed. Great job.

  10. Andrew Aves says:

    Wonderful layout Tom with some excellent detail. Many hours of enjoyment building and running the layout – Very well done.
    Andrew in Oz

  11. Jim M says:

    Tom, this could have been the town I grew up in during the 50’s & 60’s, altho it was located in Kentucky and the big church was Baptist, the rail yard smaller. But, we did have a Dairy Queen. The L & N had two tracks running through between Louisville to the north and Nashville to the south. However your downtown area recreates the community so realistically its uncanny. The buildings lining the streets all look familiar, and the surrounding county was largely dedicated to farmland, like yours. Of course there was also a KFC, and by 1961 we could also get a McDonald’s if willing to drive 35 miles north to Louisville.
    Your layout brings back many memories of my early years. Thank you for sharing your layout.

  12. Will in NM says:

    Very nice layout Jack! I like the back story for the railroad and town of Chesterfield (I hope it’s not named after the cigarettes.) 🙂 I think if I was building this layout, I would have made a tunnel and staging area under the upper town and trolley level connected to the lower-level double oval to give more running room for the trains. Since you have it on casters, you could leave the back open for access in case of a derailment or just to fiddle the staging track(s). Overall, a really great layout in a small space.

  13. Dave Karper says:

    In the fire department I was in, the tower was called a hose tower, because the purpose of it was to hang fifty foot long sections of hose to dry. The towers were generally about sixty feet high.We had fifty-eight engine companies, and each one had a hose tower.

  14. Matt says:

    That’s a tiny coffin. I hate those types of funerals. Nice layout overall. Lots of details, and they make the difference.

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