Monday, May 15, 2017

Making a start on the EVRR

Once a blogger, always a blogger I guess. I've made a start on the N-scale Elizabeth Valley RR. Hopefully in a few weeks I can post a more detailed account, but I was a little surprised that the construction so far has been fun. All the track is Peco.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

E. L. Moore's Layouts & Dioramas

[Night time on the Elizabeth Valley Railroad - E. L. Moore photo]

Again this fall I decided maybe I’d get rid of that 4x6 Elizabeth Valley. I turn on the lights, pull back the dusty plastic cover, then for no good reason at all clean up the tracks and give her a try. Once a year, I do this. Nostalgia gets me, and I decide not to bother to sell it. But out in another room I’ve got a railroad yard about the same size which served as a basis for an article and photographs Linn accepted last spring -- and I don’t need two railroads, neither of them operating in the strict sense, because I’m not much interested in operations. I merely like to build and photograph the results, then I’m through, except maybe to write an article about it.
[An excerpt from a long letter E. L. Moore wrote to Andy Anderson, an editor with Model Railroader, in December 1965. The "railroad yard" is his 1900 Shortline Terminal Yard that appeared in the January 1967 issue of Model Railroader

Blogging retirement sucks. I thought it would cure what ails me, but no dice. 

For the last two years or so I’ve been on a roll; there were lots of interesting things to write, and I got into the groove of posting something every few days. Things started to wind down, but my mind was stuck on posting, posting, posting. Obsessive personality. It caused me some stress. Other things needed my attention and here I was stuck thinking I had to post at the old rate no matter what. I figure the thing to do is just get back to posting now and then about what grabs me, and if things pickup, then I’ll reassess.  

But, I had lots of interesting discussions while I was contemplating the rocking chair. One thing I realized was that I hadn’t taken any time to try and summarize what I’ve learned on the E. L. Moore trail. I had focused on the pieces, but hadn’t done much on stitching the story together. I’d done it in my mind, but hadn’t tried to write it down. This post will hopefully be the first of a series where I try and write the big story.

Look, I’ll tell you up front that there are still lots of unknowns in this story. On the one hand, it seems like a lot has been found, but that stuff often just serves to remind me that I’ve only scratched the surface on E. L. Moore’s life story. So, as we go along I’ll make some speculations based on what I've learned. They’re my best guesses based on what factoids I've found, but they could change as new information comes to light. My speculations will be noted with (?). Just bear this in mind as we get going. Also, if you've been following the E. L. Moore series you'll see there isn't any new information here, just pulling the pieces together.

I’ll start with summarizing what's known about the layouts and layout-like things E. L. Moore built. Here's a list of what I think are his layouts, and things that seem like layouts:

The Roland Emmett Tribute Diorama
The Eagleroost & Koontree Railroad
The Elizabeth Valley Railroad
The 1900 Backwoods Engine Facility
The Enskale & Hoentee Railroad

The Rowland Emmett Tribute Diorama

A vertically oriented HO scale diorama featuring trains, trams, buildings and scenes made famous by a number of Roland Emmett cartoons.

You can see a large picture of the diorama here, and all the Rowland Emmett related E. L. Moore posts are tagged with Rowland Emmett.

Built: Early to mid 1950s (?)

Size: 2’ x 3’, maybe 2' x 4' maximum (?)

First print appearancewith the Spumoni family in Merrie Old England, January 1956, Railroad Model Craftsman.

Fate: Unknown.

The Eagleroost & Koontree Railroad

A collection of temporary scenes featuring a fictitious narrow gauge mountain railroad - modelled in HOn2-1/2 - in an unspecified US location, situated sometime in the late 1890s or early 1900’s.

All posts about the Eagleroost & Koontree Railroad are tagged with EKRR.

Built: ongoing from mid 1950s to mid 1960s (?)

Size: Each scene likely no bigger than 2’x2’ or 3’x3’ (?)

First print appearance: Fall 1957, Model Trains

Fate: All scenes were temporary dioramas that were taken apart sometime after being photographed.

The Elizabeth Valley Railroad

A 4’ x 6’ HO scale layout based in a mountainous region surrounding a valley with lakes.  Set in an unspecified US location sometime in the late 1890s or early 1900’s. No industries; survives mainly on tourism and maybe some logging. The layout was named for his young daughter. 

My first post on this layout can be found here. In that one the track plan was still unknown and I tried to figure it out from photographs. The plan came to light just this year when a generous reader forwarded me a photo of a postcard with the track plan on it that E. L. Moore had mailed him in the early 1960s. That unlocked a lot of activity on revising the track plan and preparing to build an N-scale version.

You can find all the Elizabeth Valley Railroad posts tagged with EVRR.

Built: 1954 to mid-1950s (?)

Size: 4’ x 6’

First print appearance: Elizabeth Valley RR, March 1955, Railroad Model Craftsman

Fate: Unknown. It was originally built at his Pine St. apartment (mid-1950s) and then moved to his Oakland Ave. apartment (late-1950s or early 1960s) (?) 

The 1900s Shortline Terminal Yard

An extensive diorama of a US shortline terminal yard situated sometime around 1900. It wasn't an extension of his Elizabeth Valley layout, but it was stylistically similar. In September 2015 I saw all the buildings that made up this display. I consider this to be E. L. Moore's masterwork, and if you only read one article by him, I'd recommend the one about this display that appeared in the January '67 issue of Model Railroader

Built: Winter '64/'65 to Spring 1965 (?), submitted stories to Model Railroader in May 1965.

Size: 4' x 6’ maximum (?)

First print appearance: Turn backward, O Time, January 1967, Model Railroader

Fate: As of September 2015, all the structures appearing on the diorama were owned by two North Carolina collectors. 

The Enskale & Hoentee Railroad

A 30” x 30” layout situated in a mountainous region surrounding a lake. Set in an unspecified US location sometime in the late 1890s or early 1900’s. Combines 3 scales: N, TT and HOn2-1/2. It's a tourist line; no industries. It was built primarily as a project layout for Railroad Model Craftsman. When Model Railroader's editorial staff got wind that Mr. Moore was building this layout, they offered him a deal to write a book that would be similar to their HO Primer, but for N scale. Given Kalmbach's publishing clout, and E. L. Moore's stature in the model railroading world, that book might have made E. L. Moore one of the founding writers in N scale layout building. 

All posts about the Enskale & Hoentee Railroad are tagged with EHRR.

Built: Winter 1967/68 to Spring 1968(?). Story submitted to Railroad Model Craftsman on 28 April 1968.

Size: 30" x 30"

First print appearance: Enskale & Hoentee Parts 1 to 3, Oct, Nov, Dec 1968, Railroad Model Craftsman

Fate: Unknown. Soon after construction it was loaned to the North Hills Hobby Shop in Raleigh, North Carolina. In 1980 it was sold to a North Carolina model train collector (?).

Two things are clear: E. L. Moore loved the mountains, and the late 19th and early 20th century era. He was born in 1898, so that time corresponds with his boyhood. Many model railroaders, myself included, set their layouts in the time around youth, so maybe that's not too surprising. As for the mountains, he may have tramped through the Great Smokey Mountains in the 1930s (?), and he was a self-described 'vagabond' during that time. 

His layouts don't depict any particular prototype, but are collections of things he loved - his ideal world. His layouts steered clear of depicting or servicing industries, which is interesting since many of his articles dealt with building a variety of industrial facilities.
[An overview photo of E. L. Moore's Water Wheel Mill diorama.]

Strictly speaking, Mr. Moore only built one personal layout, The Elizabeth Valley RR, but there were many dioramas. It's a bit difficult to know where to draw the line on what to include in this post. There were other significant dioramas like the Water Wheel Mill, the Wild West Show, the hinted at zoo, the HOJ POJ Manufacturing Co., the Canal Boats, golden spike laying at Promontory Point, and numerous elaborate setups for illustrating construction articles. And at times he used the Elizabeth Valley layout to stage and photograph other scenes. I chose the dioramas I did as they were major projects and seem to encapsulate his enduring interests.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Rootin' and ticketin'

[A delivery to Cal's Cabbage Co. Photo by E. L. Moore]
This will be the last post for awhile as I’m thinking of retiring from blogging. Things seem to be pointing in the direction of placing the blog on the shelf: there are more demands on my time these days; as well, there are some other projects I’d like to pursue, and I think I’ve come to the end of things I want to post about. I can see the weeks and months ahead merely consisting of status updates and I’m not overly interested in that. I’ve taken blogging breaks before, but always with a plan to return, so Debra suggested I just set things aside for awhile and see how I feel in a few weeks. Sounds like a good idea. The blog will remain up-and-running, and I’m still around for comments or email. Of course, if there any new and interesting developments, I’ll be back.
[Buying tickets at the Grizzly Flats Depot. Photo by E. L. Moore]

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The loop

I did some work on the other end of the layout and drew out the turning loop. It's based on the TTC's Neville Park loop on the eastern end of Queen St. E. 
[I shot that photo of the Neville Park loop in Nov' 2011 - Yikes, time flies]

I think my loop has a larger turning radius, so its dimensions are proportionally larger than the real thing.
I shot that photo on the same day. You can see the entry and exit tracks as well as a long view looking west down Queen St E.
I was going to put the turning loop on the left end of the layout, but I decided to flip it and try it out on the right. I liked it better. I think my first thought was biased because of the way I'd always approached the loop from the street.
[This picture was sourced from the Toronto Public Archive and the caption says: "Queen Street East, looking east from Neville Park Boulevard to Nursewood Road, showing Neville Loop, Toronto Transit Commission, Toronto, Ont." The photo was shot in 1972.]

Love those PCCs from '72. And speaking of great oldies,

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Was E. L. Moore's Enskale & Hoentee RR inspired by the Gleish Valley RR?

[Track plan of E. L. Moore's Enskale & Hoentee RR from the Oct. '68 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman.]

For years I'd been clinging to a little clipped out photograph showing an HO pike on a card table; just a loop the loop affair with scenery but no switches. I dug this out and did a little doodling and came up with what we have here.
E. L. Moore explains the origins of his Enskale & Hoentee layout in the Oct. '68 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman.


... I read back to those formerly ignored articles and Trade Topics, sent off for about every catalog in the country (one box filled with N scale catalogs now) worked up a track plan that had lain dormant for years with only now and then passing thought...
E. L. Moore explains in a letter to Bill Rau the inspiration for his Enskale & Hoentee.

I warn you now before we go any further, there's wild speculation ahead. You can turn back and I won't hold it against you :-)
[Track plan for P. D. Hancock's Gleish Valley Railroad that appeared in his article Cubbyhole Railroading in the Mar. '53 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman.]

Look carefully at that track plan for The Gleish Valley Railroad. It looks the same as the one used by E. L. Moore for his Enskale & Hoentee RR

Now, the Gleish is a layout in 2 mm scale, measuring 24" x 36", isn't HO, and does make use of switches. So, on the face of it, its specs contradict E. L. Moore's stated inspiration for his layout. And Mr. Moore would have had to adjust the plan a bit to get it to fit on his 30" x 30" base. Although he did use N-scale, which is pretty close to 2 mm. And both layouts are set in mountainous terrain and both feature a lake in the centre. All are curious similarities.

Even given E. L. Moore's statement on inspiration, cast your thoughts back to The Great Dilly Manufacturing Controversy. E. L. Moore claimed in print that plans for Dilly Manufacturing / 8-Ball Loco Works were owned and developed by a certain person, but it turned out to be otherwise. He could get attributions wrong now-and-then because he used clippings from reference materials and not the full sources. So, there might have been a similar attribution problem over the 15 year gap between the two layouts. 

Would E. L. Moore even have read Mr. Hancock's article? We'll never know for sure, but in the introductory paragraphs to the Enskale & Hoentee story, Mr. Moore states he got started in HO scale railroading 15 years earlier, which would be 1953, the same year the Gleish plan was published. When model railroaders get started, they often read everything they can get their hands on, which in those days would be the magazines, so it's a possibility that E. L. Moore at least had a glance at the Gleish Valley.

Or, maybe both are based on that mysterious HO scale card table layout E. L. Moore mentioned? Maybe there is an ur-progenitor layout waiting to be discovered.

Or, maybe it's all just coincidence because a lot of 1950's and 1960's vintage model railroads did share a lot attributes - loop-the-loop, short tunnels through mountains, central lakes, etc.  Given the laws of chance, there was bound to be the appearance of unrelated duplicate layouts. 

All that aside, The Gleish Valley Railroad is a gem in its own right. It follows British railway practice and uses English style buildings and rolling stock even though the scenery is very reminiscent of the Rocky Mountains. Everything is scratch built including all track work and the loco. Its modelling and construction standards are very high, and it wouldn't look out-of-place in today's world.

Tapin' it to the street

[Beginnings of the residential area. Building placement is temporary and just to get the feel of the spaces that are developing. Interestingly, I had to try several different building types and positions until the whole thing 'popped' and the feel of the place came over me. I also realized I need some strategically placed tall buildings.]

I've started to draw the major ground features and track lines full-size on sheets of paper. I have this reticence to start with a big, blank sheet and often begin with smaller, just big enough pieces to get started and then tape more pieces on to build out a big sheet. Weird I know, but it helps me get over mental blocks about getting started.
I don't enjoy operation. I like to see trains or streetcars run, but running to mimic real business activities isn't my thing. I'm more interested in the buildings and street and all the stuff I've encountered in my travels. In Toronto I rode the buses, streetcars and subway to get where I was going - I used my feet too ! - but didn't travel to car barns or maintenance facilities or the other places commonly featured in a 'traction' layout. The streetcars were part of the street scene and that's what they'll be here. They'll run just enough so I can capture the feeling I'm after.
I did a little selective compression on the roads because I found with my first layout that if they're drawn completely to scale they take up lots of space. Too much actually. So, I spent some time fiddling to get what seems like some streets and avenues of the 'right' size: enough to get the feel of busy-ness and activity, but not too cramped and toy-like. 

Oh, and as hinted at, I leave you with Michael McDonald and the guys.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

He Builds Railroads - Then Scraps Them

He Builds Railroads - Then Scraps Them is an interview with E. L. Moore that appeared in the Sunday, January 19, 1958 edition of the The Charlotte Observer. The story was written by David Hayhow. The article was found and generously sent to me by Maria David, Newsroom Researcher and Photo Archivist at The Charlotte Observer. She's also the writer behind The Charlotte Observer's Retro Charlotte blog. I'd like to thank her for taking the time to answer my inquiry and providing the link to this most interesting article.

I've no wife, automobile or television so I can live as I please in complete peace. 

This love of leisure leads Moore to write for magazines, illustrate his articles with photos, collect and catalog some 1,000 books, and dabble in guns and art.

Some 1,000 books. Wow! There's a lot in that article, especially non-model railroad stuff that helps me get a little better understanding of E. L. Moore. But, I must admit, he seems a little ill-at-ease. He also seems to have a diabolical look about him in the photo. Maybe he hadn't dealt with the media much at that point in his career. He was barely 3 years into his 24 year long publishing career, so he might have been still learning the ropes.

The photos at the top of the article are of his Water Wheel Mill model, so they help to put a date on that project. The paper even created a side-by-side photo with the prototype as I did when I came across the surviving photos. The photo at the bottom of the article looks like another one of his tunnel shots along Goat Pass, but with a flat car I haven't seen before.

Like I've said many times before, there's lots of material still out there waiting to be found.

[20 April Update: At first I had a link to the article so you could read it; however, it turns out to be a password protected link to a private db which I can't post - I respect that. I may take another crack at writing a post about the article to summarize a few key points.]