To proto or not to proto

Pan Am Engine 315 with Guilford Livery

As I continue to plan my Merrimack Valley model railroad I’ve been reading more about prototyping, or proto as kids call it these days, a real railroad / industries / locations. Some people even suggest doing a snap shot of an exact date in time. The other option is freelance, otherwise known as make whatever the hell you want. When I was at Charles Ro Supply last week, see my post from Friday, I saw some Guilford and Boston & Maine locomotives. So this got my mind thinking and I said, “Hey self! What if we made a hybrid proto model railroad of Guilford and the other older lines it gobbled up?” Not a bad idea! So here’s my story, the Merrimack Valley Railroad was a small line and purchased by Guilford. Along with Boston & Maine and the Maine Central Railroad, I should be able to combine the available roadnames without having to do a fancy custom job. And maybe just ignore that Guilford becomes Pam Am in my time frame.

As for scenery, I’ve decided to use real town names from New England but I think operations and industries are going to be freelance / proto to the region. Ex: Lumber / paper / passenger / fishing.

Here is my list of things I would like to see for this proto model railroad;

  • City
  • Yard & engine facility
  • Seaport / coastal
  • Fairground
  • Industry
  • River valley
  • Colonial houses
  • Faller Car System

That’s a lot for a little basement layout, so can any of these be combined? Perhaps the city can be more background buildings for the yard / engine facility. Doesn’t every operational railroad layout need a yard? Then instead of a fairground, maybe an amusement pier with a ferris wheel / bumper cards / merry-go-round at the seaport. That’s not very prototypical of New England, but I don’t think that matters. For industry, if it was paper or lumber or some combination of the industries, they can be placed within the river valley. Ultimately this is about operations and less about a showcase, so the wish list may have to wait until a bigger space can be provided.

Please share your thoughts on following a prototype or going freelance.

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