Toledo Terminal District, New York Central

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This layout is not for everybody. But perhaps you are looking for something different from the usual freight train switching under the remorseless gaze of a fast clock. Perhaps you would like to recapture the romance of train travel in the Golden Age of the Pullman. If so, you have come to the right place: The New York Central Toledo Terminal District modeling the Golden Age of train travel 1947-1948:

  • Passenger trains, and passenger train switching exclusively. All 60+ trains in the December 7, 1947 NYC public timetable (Form 1001) as well as all trains in the “foreign road” timetables are run.
  • There is a feeble representation of Airline Yard, but it is strictly scenery.
  • Steam: Hudsons, Pacifics, Niagaras, Mikados, all with sound.
  • Diesel: EMD E7s, Alco PAs (Rapido, no less) all with sound.
  • Heavyweight cars: Yes! Streamlined Pullman and Budd cars: Yes! The New England States, The Twentieth Century Ltd., The Commodore Vanderbilt, The Mercury (never heard of The Mercury, you say? I have a book you can peruse): Maybe
  • How come Maybe? Well, this layout runs on “Railroad Time,” not a fast clock. The first session ran Midnight - 2:00am, the second 2:00am - 4:30am, etc. So which trains you get to run depends on the luck of the draw. Definitely a more relaxed pace.
  • However: sometimes it will be a challenge to complete the switching at Toledo Union Station in the allotted time, believe it or not!
  • Depending on the session, you may encounter trains from the C&O (featuring my latest pride and joy, the Broadway Limited C&O Mikado), B&O, and very rarely, The Wabash.
  • You will get to assemble, or at least supervise the assembly of, your own train in staging; akin to assembling your own pizza. It is hoped that by perusing the train description and the origin and destination of the cars in the consist, you will experience the romance of train travel, and become one with your train, so to speak (just as you become one with your pizza, in an entirely different way, it is hoped).
  • Alas, unlike the pizza, you will also have to disassemble the train when you are done, but at least that is a much quicker process than the assembly.

End of Commercial (Ask your Doctor if my layout is right for you).

The Facts:

Toledo Union Station (TUS) sits at the cross-roads of the NYC Water Level Route (Chicago - New York City) and the NYC line from Detroit to Cincinnati. The former was double-tracked on the approaches to TUS, and triple or four-tracked beyond (mostly). The NYC also had lines North of Detroit as far as Mackinaw City. The Toledo - Columbus (OH) portion of this North - South line was former Toledo & Ohio Central (T&OC).

The only station on the layout is TUS. It was operated by the NYC. C&O and B&O entered TUS from the south and continued to Detroit. The Wabash ran just one train, a stub of the St. Louis Ltd (St. Louis to Detroit) from the West. The Pennsy had its own depot (of course), and so did the Ann Arbor Railroad. Too bad, as I lust after a K4.

The two staging yards, Gilbert Yard and Hokenson Yard, where trains are assembled and disassembled, are in the lower level of this two level layout, connected by double-track approaches to TUS from the West and the East (the Water Level Route). The T&OC approach, as well as the foreign road lines from the South and West are represented by the “Helix from Hell” (don’t ask). The line to Detroit is represented by a track that sneaks behind Airline Yard, and then, having no other place to go, rejoins the the Water Level Route (sorry).

With a full crew of 4 or 5, Gilbert and Hokenson yard have two full-time operators who also function as tower operators for the east and west end of TUS. Otherwise the work is done by the two engineers. Also, a session typically begins with one or more trains “pre-assembled” and ready to go.

Scenery is minimal: a work-in-progress. Toledo station will be a scratch-building project as yet beyond my abilities (Google the station to see why). Passenger cars, which have proven to be unruly prima-donnas that love to uncouple or derail seemingly at whim, have mostly been whipped into shape (ask me about my latest acquisitions, the Atlas (nee Branchline) 10-1-1s which have required a staging track of their own).

Turnouts are all Peco hand-thrown. The plan is to have mainline turnouts powered in the near future. I also dream of installing the iconic NYC signals (which actually will be more decorative than functional, truth be told, as operation on a double track mainline does not require it) . But they will sure look cool. You should live so long.

Superintendent Will Tajibnapis
Division or Location: Toledo Terminal District (Toledo, Ohio)
Interchange Railroads: B&O, C&O, Wabash
Size of Railroad: 22' x 22' plus 10' x 14' annex
Scale: HO
Era: 1947
Control System: Digitrax
Scale Clock Speed: 1:1
Length of Session: 3 hours
Number of Crew: 4-5
Train Control: Tower Operators
Are Radios Required: No
Listed Jobs: 2 Yardmaster/Tower Operators, 2 Engineers, 1 station switcher
Accessibility: Stairs down to basement
Distance from hotel: 9 miles
Estimated travel time from hotel: 13 minutes
Web Site: {None...yet}
Pets: None

Layout photos (click to enlarge):

Niagara at speed on the mainline
Gilbert Staging Yard
Hokenson Staging yard
with New England States ready to go
Toledo Union Station

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