1. Coming Full Circle

Back in December of 2017, as I was sifting though a box of used Minitrix track, I came across a couple of curved turnouts and was suddenly hit with a strong wave of nostalgia. I thought perhaps the idea of recreating my first White River and Northern might help soothe my tortured soul, so I scrounged around for materials and found just enough to replicate the original round layout.

Aside from a new lightweight Gatorfoam base (instead of 3/4-inch plywood), I allowed myself to modify the track plan a little: I swapped the geometries of the upper and lower lines and added a few more sidings. Compare the "before" and "after" versions, above.

It wasn't long before I had the base assembled, comprising two laminated sheets of half-inch Gatorfoam, and a piece of 3/16-inch Gatorfoam for the cookie-cutter subroadbed mounted on Gatorfoam risers.

I laid the track using 3M's VHB double-sided tape, and in two short days I was ready to start working on structures.

Along the way, I became conflicted over the layout's theme. At first it was going to be a logging line, just like the original—I even had an Atlas Shay for the motive power. Then I began to feel that a logging line was perhaps just a bit hackneyed, so I struck upon the idea of a granite quarry railroad instead. This also inspired me to break with my "tradition" of naming such layouts White River and Northern.

Thus I arrived at the Greystone and Rock Bottom Railroad, a little quarry line somewhere in the mountains of New Hampshire. Or possibly Vermont. Anyway, understandably one might accuse me of conjuring a cutesy theme-related railroad name, but actually Greystone was inspired by the Redstone Quarry in Conway, New Hampshire (an old haunt of mine in my youth). Meanwhile, Rock Bottom represented my emotional—and physical and financial—state; it was serendipity that it sounded quarry-related. That said, given the somewhat whimsical nature of the layout, it all certainly fits.

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