The White River and Northern II met a sudden end when I was surprised with a divorce.
Soon afterward I bought a condo and, after playing around with a very small Z Scale
layout, I started working on plans for an N Scale layout in the second bedroom.
Admittedly the plan was rather bizarre: an eleven foot diameter circular layout was
suspended from the ceiling on counterweighted cables, permitting it to be set at any
height from three to six feet above the floor. An opening in the center allowed for viewing
and operation, so it sort of resembled a giant floating doughnut. Benchwork was nearly as
strange (for its day): foam insulation board topped a frame made of steel two-by-fours.
Odd as it all sounds, it worked. Why round? It wasn’t a throwback to the first WR&N;
it was to create a cornerless layout with a continuous, perfectly seamless backdrop.
But it was the backdrop that ultimately doomed the project: I couldn’t devise anything
that worked with the layout at every possible height. I tried soft light blue fabric and
telescoping foamcore rings, among other things. Most frustrating.
The track plan was embarrassingly simple: two loops, double-track on the lower level and
single-track on the upper, embellished with a small yard and a couple of industrial sidings.
A pair of connector tracks tied the upper and lower loops together so I could mix things up
if I felt like it. All the layout needed was a big Christmas tree in the middle, right?
I’d already started tracklaying before the layout was scrapped. I’d handlaid a few Code 40
turnouts, and also built a bridge and a station based on a scene roughly two blocks from
my condo. The bridge and station were recycled for the WR&N IV; the bridge was recycled
once again for my “Somewhere in New Jersey” diorama, along with the Code 40 turnouts.
Incidentally, I didn’t own camera at the time; the few images that survive were taken with
a disposable camera, which explains why they’re terrible. After hanging idly in the bedroom
for a couple of years, the WR&N III was torn out in preparation for its successor.
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