Model Railroad to Open in Green Bank in February
If you’re looking for something to do on a cold February Saturday and are a fan of the railroad, stop by Bruce Elliott’s model train depot in Green Bank.
Elliott retired in 2003 from the Washington, D.C. metro transit system and worked for some time at Cass Scenic Railroad State Park. Today, he serves as model committee chairman for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Historical Society where he works with model train manufacturers.
His intention is to build a replica of a rail route through Maryland, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania in a historically accurate representation of how the trains would have run between the years of 1950 and 1955.
“There are five real locations on the former Baltimore & Ohio Railroad that are on the model railroad: Point of Rocks, Md., Fairmont, W.Va., Patterson Creek, W.Va., Garrett, Pa., and Somerset, Pa.,” he said.
“It’s actually reality in miniature. When you start talking about, ‘I’m at such-and-such location’; it’s no longer, ‘oh, he’s on the other side of the room playing trains.’ It actually draws you in. Model railroading is probably one of the most comprehensive art forms that you will ever experience. Model railroaders have to be painters. We have to be carpenters. We have to be electricians. We have to have the imagination of a science fiction writer because we have to make fantasy out of reality, and we have to be able to make it convincingly,” he said.
One of his highly-detailed models of the Laughlin Junction, which is located just east of the Youghiogheny River near Pittsburgh, is now on display at the renowned miniature railroad and village at the Carnegie Science Center.
Elliott doesn’t want visitors to expect the same type of detail of scenery that someone might find at a museum because his project is a work in progress, he says.
“They’re not going to see a finished model railroad. They’re going to see bench work. They’re going to see plywood. They’re going to see track … all the track is laid, so the yards at Fairmont are complete. The yards at Somerset are complete. Point of Rocks is 60 percent complete, only because Point of Rocks is a location on the railroad where it splits and goes in two different directions,” Elliott said.
“The one thing that I would say that I definitely need people to understand is if you’re coming to this thinking that you’re going to see a fully detailed, scenic model railroad: no, absolutely not. You’re going to see a work in progress. You’re going to see trains run. You’re actually going to be able to see a minimum and a maximum of two trains running at the same time in different directions, east bound and west bound.
“As time goes on, and it’s on a daily basis, I’m retired so all I have to do is stay out of my wife’s hair, which means go over to the building and play trains, which satisfies both of us. All I have to do is continue to work on something that I’ve had a life-long love for.”
Elliott has been a train enthusiast since he was a young boy and took frequent trips to Cass as he was growing up.
“Starting in ’64 one of dad’s friends in the railroad club says, ‘you know, we gotta go down to West Virginia. They got a new railroad going on down there and we need to go down.’”
“We stayed with Bill and Maud Moore at Moore’s Lodge down in Stony Bottom that year in ’64, and we stayed with Bill and Maud every year after that consecutively,” he said.
If you visit his train depot, located next to his house in Green Bank, he also has a CD for sale of images of the B&O Railroad trains that he and his father photographed since 1970 in 13 states and cities including Chicago and St. Louis.
There is no admission fee to see Elliott’s work. He plans to be open starting February 7 from noon until 5 p.m. at 858 North Fork Loop in Green Bank in a red building with black trim. Visitors may call 304-456-5380 at the model railroad building or at home where he has a voice mail 456-5389.