Monday, December 27, 2010

John Allen's Gorre & Dephetid Railroad

During this post Christmas day period I've taken some time out to just have a relax basically. I do need to seriously get into the garage for a massive cleanup, but it's either been too hot, or like today drizzling with rain on and off all day.

I don't mind watching the cricket, but the Boxing day test has been less than interesting so far. Seeing Australia out for 98 (a good total would have been 350 odd!), and then not being able to take any wickets has seriously reduced my interest to the point where doing some cleaning in the spare room was more appealing!

However, whilst moving some things around I came across some train related books that needed to be put away. One of these was bought for me by my Grandfather when I was about twelve or thirteen, so circa 1984, titled Scenery for Model Railroads, written by Bill McLanahan.

Whilst typically American in layout and scenery style, it none the less had lots of very good techniques and common sense ideas that like most I soaked up, and probably read this book cover to cover dozens of times in those early years.

Whilst I knew even at that point that I wanted to model NSW prototype, I was awe struck by the centre spread on pages 52 and 53, which featured a colour image of John Allen's Gorre & Daphetid Railroad. To say that the layout dwarfed the HO scale trains was an understatement. Here was a scene where the trains were actually running through their environment in the most realistic balance of train to scenery ratio I had seen.

Being the good old days with no internet, I was only able to ever see a few other images of this magnificent layout, but from what I had read and seen I just new it was something special. So after flicking through this old book of mine once again, I quickly retreated to the Mac to do some searching to see what else I could find on this layout.

Track work was mostly code 70 rail, hand spiked to individually laid sleepers. Having done a small amount of this, it makes me realise what a job of epic proportions this must have been. Looking through some of the information, it appears that some of the scenes where almost completed before any track was even laid, much like the real thing!

The mountains which dwarf the actual trains extend from floor to ceiling in places, and although the scenery and structures are simply amazing, there are many tricks used to greatly enhance the viewing pleasure. Objects like trees and some structures were purposely built to smaller scales and placed towards the rear of the scenes, creating the illusion of greater depth, and even a mirror was used to increase the scene depth in one place. Lighting was extensive in line side structures, and lighting seems to be able to be tailored to suit different times of day.

None of the above is necessarily unique to this layout, but remember this was the 1950's and 60's, no doubt groundbreaking in its day and still impressive today no matter which way you look at it.

Being built during the 1950's, 60's and early 70's, photographic records are not as common as they are today. This coupled with the fact that in 1973 John Allen suffered a fatal heart attack, and only days later an unfortunate accident saw most of the layout destroyed in a fire, means that any records are almost forty years old at best. However there are a few web sites that have gathered a fair amount of information and pics.

This is a collection of images from the first stage of the Gorre & Daphetid Railroad through to the large masterpiece that eventuated.

This is a collection of pictures, articles, magazine excerpts etc of the Gorre & Dephetid Railroad.

I know that this is kind of random to add a post about an old no longer existing layout of an overseas prototype, but for those of you with some time and an interest in truly spectacular modelling, I think you will enjoy having a bit of a look at the links provided.

Adendum: Funnily enough, while reading some other blogs I follow, I stumbled across a blog where someone is recreating the original
Gorre & Daphetid in Z Scale. It's quite an amazing feat and well worth having a look at.

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