Friday, August 24, 2007


It's Friday. I think I'll pontificate.

Most people know I'm a model railroader. Some folks know that goes a bit further. Specifically, I model Southern Railway. More specifically, I model Southern Railway's Murphy Branch in North Carolina. Some people think I go to an extreme. I model a specific month and year. June, 1942. Yes, there are reasons.

The Murphy Branch runs between Asheville, NC. and Murphy NC. It goes through a town- Andrews. No relationship that I've been able to determine. This area is very mountainous. The Murphy Branch today still exists but is not owned by Norfolk Southern. Part of the "branch" is now the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad.

I like steam locomotives. OK that pushes me back to at least 1953 since Southern Railway last used steam in that year. The Murphy Branch used light weight rail and there are tight curves and clearances so large steam locomotives were not used. There were/are steep grades so often they used two and three locomotives on a short train.

Model railroad layouts typically don't cover large areas in a person's home. So they often have tight curves. My current layout is my fifth whack and learned a great deal in forty plus years.

But why June 1942?

I've been in those NC mountains in the winter! The thought of building mountainsides full of just trees with bare branches was something I knew I'd fail miserable at. So I went with June. But why 1942?

When TVA built Fontana Dam they had to relocate portions of the Murphy Branch. In a the town of Bushnell (now under hundreds of feet of water) was a very "scenic" hotel and general store combination building. I wanted to model it. It went under water in the 1943 period as Fontana was filled.

But what prompted me to title this blog work?

I'm a history/research person. In building the track in "my" Bryson City area I have been faithful to the real (prototype) track plan. I researched the area and found diagrams in insurance books and railroad records. My track is not as "long" as what was there but it is close. After I built the track I started moving cars and locomotives around. I had one of those Eureka moments.

Southern Railway didn't build trackwork to have visual appeal. They didn't build it to run unusual locomotives or cars. They built it to make money and to get a job done. There is not more track than they needed for Bryson and it is designed to make the engineers' jobs as easy as possible without spending a penny more than necessary. Too many model railroads aren't built with this in mind.

I'm guilty of sometimes overbuilding or over thinking a project.

I wonder. Did a railroader say "git er done" long before that comedian coined the phrase?

Git er done.