3. Other Influences
After completing the Newport and Rock Falls in its original form, I started building an addition based on Bill Barron's Buckley and Onarca, which appeared in the December 1966 Model Railroader (a significant issue for me because it also continued construction of a very early N Scale layout by Gordon Odegard). Bill Barron's layout was captivating for its dense trackwork and strong character. But at the time I was ignorant of the layout's many shortcomings and strange design choices. No disrespect to the designer, but as I've subsequently learned, he wasn't a model railroader in the strictest sense; he was first and foremost an artist (as you'll see if you visit his home page).
As appealing as it may appear at first glance, the illustration represents trains, structures and scenery proportionally much closer to N Scale (or even Z) than HO. And the track plan has a multitude of serious flaws. A healthy engine facility and no yard at Buckley, and with the sanding tower on the mainline? Both passenger stations located on stub-end sidings, with Onarca's on the enginehouse track? An enginehouse at Onarca with only water? An industry and a mine on the same siding, with a switchback barely long enough for a small switcher and perhaps one very short car? No passing sidings or runarounds anywhere, despite leading and trailing industrial sidings? The mainline following the diverging route through no less than six turnouts? Not to mention the killer grades required to get over the hidden loop... All of which meant my N Scale adaptation had many of the same flaws. Regardless, I still have a strong sense of nostalgia for it.
Another significant influence for me was (perhaps not surprisingly) the late, great John Allen. I hung photos of his Gorre and Daphetid on my bedroom wall; indeed, many years later, I built a Z Scale adaptation of his original layout.
But my Buckley and Onarca addition was short-lived, for I soon met Rick Spano, who has been—and remains—the single greatest influence on my modeling. Among many other things, he inspired me to take modeling more seriously. Coincidentally, Bill Barron would provide inspiration for my next layout, which marked a turning point for me.
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