Saturday, October 12, 2019

"OP"toberfest Day 2, Session 2 - Ken Nelson

After a thoroughly enjoyable morning of operating large scale trains, I have to admit it took a bit of time to get reacquainted with operating in HO scale, but Ken Nelson's layout provided the perfect contrast. Being in operation for over 30 years, the freelanced Poco Valley Lines is more of a traditional model railroad rather than some of the more prototype-based layouts which have become popular in recent years. But that made it no less fun to operate, with a large number of trains running through some really cool scenery.

Hopefully the pics will give you a some sense of what it was like . . .

One of the first things that becomes apparent as you enter Ken's basement is the long history of the layout, including lots of RR memorabilia as well as historic artifacts of the layout itself - all nicely displayed.

A couple of over-all shots of the layout to give you a sense of the space. This is the main city on the layout, which includes the main classification yard and an engine terminal at the end of the peninsula.

Panning right a bit, you see the end of the main branchline, which connects with a former interurban line (the Hillsode Street Rwy) which has been converted to diesel power and serves another outlying town.

The "outlying town" of Coopersburg is at the end of a branch in its own separate room. Next time, I want to operate this job!

Former interurban tracks in the foreground, down Hillside's main street.

Closer view of the engine terminal with Pete operating a train in the background.

One of the towns along the way, with an effective use of background illustrations to extend the road.

Many of the model railroads built during the '80s included not only a large yard and engine terminal, but a huge wood trestle. Here's Ken's impressive effort, located on the branch which - in addition to providing cars for the former interurban line - also serves a mine.

Passenger station in the main city - very impressive, and not too compressed adding to the sheer scope and size.

Some of the buildings had full, lighted interiors - including the main roundhouse.

Despite the poor quality of the photo, I couldn't end this post without showing you the Caverns. One of the sites Ken models is a limestone quarry & cement plant in upstate NY which also had caverns beneath it. And, as you can see, he's modeled them as well! Unfortunately, the interior lighting wasn't working, so you have to deal with my flash. But hopefully it gives you a sense of what he's accomplished here.
Having operated on three different layouts in two different states in less that 24 hours, "OP"toberfest was about as close to an "op til you drop" event you can get. While I wasn't quite ready for it to end, I was thankful when I realized we had a couple of hours between Ken's session ending and the annual dinner. I took a quick nap (the "drop" part....) so was recharged enough for the fun of seeing old friends and making a few new ones over a great spread.

Special shout out to Dean S who was kind enough to seek me out to let me know he follows the blog and special thanks to Doug and his crew for organizing another wonderful operating weekend!


  1. Sounds like you had a great weekend! I went to Jim Kirby's layout first, then Kevin Surnam's, and then Doug Dederick's last. So, I missed you on all 3 layouts. Maybe next year we will meet again.

    1. Ugh! Sorry I missed you! Maybe we'll cross paths next year!