Scenic Backdrops: All Scales | Making Scrap Steel | Creating Fog and Dust | A Basic Barge
Visiting Greg Condio's B&O Layout | Modeling a Water Treatment Plant | Modeling with Silflor

With the day's work over, Pittsburgh & Lake Erie 1563 (above left) is returning home after switching cars at the J&L steel plant.

Visiting Greg Condio's B&O-Inspired HO Layout
by Greg Condio

     Model railroading is not just a hobby about building scale models of railroad equipment, scenery or the supporting structures that fill out a scene or a layout, or even about operation. While these are important, they are only part of the story. Our model railroads really draw on our personal experiences and impressions of the world around us, which is what we are actually modeling, and they can grow out of our family histories, too. In the process, they pay tribute to people, industries and regions, as well as the traditions and romance of railroading.
     My HO scale Baltimore & Ohio Railroad grew from these roots. It is based on places like Cumberland, Maryland, and New Castle, Pennsylvania, and others near my home in the Pittsburgh area. My fascination with the region came not only from being raised here, but also from going railfanning with my Uncle Gus and listening to his stories. He was a brakeman for the B&O in New Castle and we watched the transition of the B&O to become part of the Chessie System, then to CSX.
     While the layout is freelanced in that it does not replicate a specific portion of the line, the equipment, setting and industries are "B&O" and are typical of this part of the state. The railroad is in a 34 by 41-foot train room and is a walkaround design with minimum 36" aisles. Planning for it actually began in 1989, when I sketched out a "someday layout" in a future dream home. I wanted a railroad similar to David Barrows' Cat Mountain & Santa Fe or Rick Rideout's linear Louisville & Nashville, but one that would incorporate the mountains, towns and industries commonly found in western Pennsylvania. I bought the videotapes on these layouts from a friend, Allen Keller, and used them as idea banks for designing my own railroad.
     In 1992 my wife and I broke ground on that dream home, or at least as close as we could get and still be practical. The home included a basement big enough for a layout, as well as space for a workshop and a studio with a drop ceiling and corrected lighting for viewing trains and shooting photos and videos.