Gory & Defeated? Never!
December 20, 2009 1:07 PM Subscribe
posted by pjern (21 comments total)
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It's getting close to Christmas, and for many people that involves putting a train set running around the tree
. Seasonal displays
of elaborate layouts
are popular as well this time of year. One man had the ultimate train set.
His name was John Whitby Allen
, and in the middle decades of the 20th century, he built what might have been the greatest model railroad of all time
-so popular that fans keep memorial sites for it a half-century later. Put on your engineer hat and come see the Gorre & Daphetid Railroad
John Allen had a puckish sense of humor, and little details show up in almost every photograph
. He created a wonderful world, to include such whimsy as a complete subway station, with a train you could hear coming, but never arrived; and an 0-4-0 stegasaurus
Not content with scratchbuilding
almost every locomotive and building on the layout, he insisted on prototypical operation - to which end he built a hotbox detecting car - which had a ball bearing riding on a rocker-shaped set of upwardly curved rails inside an otherwise normal-appearing boxcar. If one operated a train so roughly that the steel bearing rolled off the end of the track inside, it completed a circuit to light a light underneath the train- to shame the hapless engineer for all to see.
Sadly, John Allen died in 1973 of a myocardial infarction. Two weeks later, his wonderful railroad empire
burned to the ground. Fortunately, there were photos and slides salvaged
from the wreckage.