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Freelanced Narragansett Railroad in On30

The layout is on a thin shelf along the walls of my layout room. There is a reverse loop at each end. This one circles my engine terminal.

Freelanced Narragansett Railroad in On30

Nov/Dec 2023by Tom Staton/photos by the author

A little more than 50 years ago, I received an American Flyer train set for Christmas. Just four straight tracks and some curves to make a circle. Around and round it went until it derailed. As I remember, the wooden floor was not real level. Anyway that, and our landlords’ children’s Lionel train set with lots of extras, put the train bug into my system. Several decades later, I had my own house with space to play with trains. I soon purchased a book titled A Short Haul to the Bay. It’s the story of the Narragansett Railroad and I found it humorous.

Now that I have the time and money, I decided to build a spoof of the railroad. That was easy after reading the book; engines were second hand, passenger cars were pretty sparse and had wooden bench seats. The railroad itself was used to transport visitors from the Kingston station to the beach in Narragansett. So, I decided to build an On30 layout with humor built into it.


ABOVE: This business got closed up when a kitchen fire closed it down. Now out of work, scrappers try to find anything worthwhile in this pile of scrap and beer bottles.

I must give thanks to several friends, starting with Martin Collard, one great scratchbuilder. He runs the Borodino & Southern Railroad. Gary Frost is another great modeler and was a lot of help. He models the city of Syracuse, N.Y., and its surroundings. Together we started a group called the Syracuse Workshop; these two modelers inspired me to no end. We traveled together to different shows showing off our work. I must also mention Brian Curry who is no longer with us. Gary, Martin, and myself at the time were in HO, Brian was in N scale; it’s hard to put into words how detailed and fine running an N scale layout could be—he put us to shame.

Along with these guys, there was Don Joyal and his brothers who owned a big Lionel train layout when it was little. This is why I like to spoof and pay tribute to my friends. If you’re starting in model railroading, try to think outside the box, keep it fun, and take guidance from us old guys; it can save you a lot of headaches. You don’t need to have a big round house, or miles of track to have fun—and fun should be the reason you’re modeling.


ABOVE: I found using this sidewalk, foliage and small buildings a great way to hem in this scene.

Nov/Dec 2023Read the rest of this article in the Nov/Dec 2023 issue of Narrow Gauge & Short Line Gazette. Subscribe Today!