Austin Eagle: Layout Tours

My trip to Texas to take part in The Austin Eagle – the NMRA Lone Star Region’s annual convention – included a terrific self-guided tour of area layouts. On the Saturday, a bunch of us hopped into my rental vehicle (a Toyota 4Runner, which had plenty of space for a crew) and hit the highway.

A highlight for me was a visit to the Proto:48 layout being built by master craftsman Jim Zwernemann. (I’ve written more about it here.)

Another key stop on the layout tour, for me, was the HO scale Santa Fe layout built by noted designer David Barrow. You can read more about that experience here.


In addition to these two layouts, we visited a nice HOn3 layout built by Ben Sargent. Ben’s Santa Fe & San Juan Railroad models the D&RGW’s narrow gauge Chili Line in New Mexico.

Ben is a retired political cartoonist whose layout shares space with his speciality printing business, run with this 1905-era press.
Ben’s press and his collection of type for it garnered as much interest at the layout did!

We also visited the HO scale MKT Sedalia Division being built by Steve Nelson – covering the line between Franklin Missouri and Parsons, Kansas in the autumn of 1966. Steve is a modeller I can really relate to: he shows restraint in the composition of his scenes, but not trying to crowd too many ideas into a given space. Instead, he devotes proper space to each idea.

For example, note how much space is devoted to these harvest scenes – and how Steve has created vignettes in the fields:

I was also impressed by this large soybean processing operation. I didn’t realize how many different car types are required to process soybeans and ship various finished products – it’s almost as complex as a paper mill, and would make an excellent subject for a one-industry layout:


Thanks to everyone who hosted layout tours. I really enjoyed seeing your work!

Published by Trevor

Lifelong model railway enthusiast and amateur shepherd, training a border collie to work sheep. Professional writer and editor, with some podcasting and Internet TV presenting work thrown in for good measure.

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