2. False Start

Early in 2007 I began work on the James River Branch. The track plan was as simple as it could possibly be: a figure-eight with a helix at each end of the loop, which produced a nice long run, and allowed the scenery to take center stage. At 30 by 48 inches, it wasn't especially compact, but I envisioned it as a glass-topped coffee table.

The base was made from two layers of half-inch Gatorfoam laminated together, with additional layers of black foamcore to raise the lower grade above river level, and also to darken all of the tunnels. Roadbed was more foamcore on foamcore risers.

I'd gotten the track all laid and made some headway with the scenery. At one point early in its life the layout even made a road trip to Rick Spano's house.

But the more I worked on it, the less satisfied I became. The core problem was the track: no matter how nice the scenery looked, the track still stuck out like a sore thumb.

I'd started planning the town when I finally decided I'd had it.

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