12. The Upside of a Hurricane

On Tuesday, 4 August 2020, Hurricane Isaias blew through, hammering us from 8 AM until 1 PM. Although my home and property suffered zero damage—I've endured much worse from plain old thunderstorms—Isaias knocked out power to over 700,000 New Jersey residents. I endured five days in the dark, and to pass the time, I worked on the layout. Well, I didn't just work on it—I practically worked it over. All by the light of LED lanterns.

First, I discovered that adding the runaround on 27 July left no room for the Bearcamp Springs Resort (3). That wouldn't do—I really wanted that big old resort to loom over the town—so I added two inches to the back of the layout (below).

There then followed a cascade of changes and additions. First, I completed the two stone arch bridges (31 and 35). However, as I was preparing to install them, I had second thoughts: they looked far too substantial for an old logging/mining/branchine. So, out they went, and I began making plans for two entirely different bridges.

From there I moved down into town to work on several buildings, and in the process I shuffled a few things around. Josh's House reappeared, and (sadly) the lumber yard disappeared.

Then suddenly I had a great change of heart about the whole layout's theme: I ditched all of hauling springwater on an old abandoned branchline nonsense, and fully embraced a tourist railroad, bringing me closer in spirit to the sadly aborted Black River & Western. In the process, I made several overarching changes, as well as many more subtle ones:

  • pushed the layout temporal setting up several years to 1959 or thereabouts
  • changed the brewery to a brewery/museum operating in tandem with the railroad
  • put the Shay on static display across from the Augustine station (13)
  • gave Ed's Dirty Dog a new building in a new location (19)
  • renamed it the "Mountain Vista Railroad" (although it's still "legally" the WR&N)

Things didn't stop there. Rummaging through drawers of stuff scavenged from the White River & Northern IV, I found some things to give the White River valley area behind the steel trestle a whole new look: I'd kept an abandoned stone arch road bridge (33, above) from that layout, and thought would add some visual interest to this layout. I also found an open-deck road bridge that, while too small to use, inspired me to bash an open grid deck pony truss (32) as the "replacement" for the old stone bridge. Also, among the WR&N IV detritus I found a lineside shed (7) and a crossing shanty (26), so I won't need to buy/make these.

Incidentally, the new picnic grove and campground (29) came about while struggling to find a new home for the campfire I'd made, which got displaced with the new road bridge arrangement. I also re-discovered a pair of camping tents I'd made to go with the campfire on the old White River & Northern II, and that pretty much sealed the deal. Oh, and another thing that the new road bridge arrangement displaced was my cabin (5), which is now waaay up in the hills where the old springhouse used to be.

I have no doubt there will be many more revisions to come. Indeed, I've been toying with the idea of another addition to the layout...

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