Harry Brunk (1934-2023)

—original artwork by Harry Brunk

Harry Brunk (1934-2023)

NGSL 2023-02Harry Brunk passed away February 27, 2023: he was 82. Long time GAZETTE readers will know of Harry. He wrote a column from January/February 1980 to January/February 2010 (only missing the January/February 1982 issue) describing his HOn3 Union Central & Northern Clear Creek Division. Harry’s layout depicted the Colorado & Southern’s 3-foot gauge Clear Creek line that once ran from Denver, Colo., through Golden, up Clear Creek Canyon, through Forks Creek, spun a branch off to Black Hawk and Central City, past the famous Argo Tunnel, through Idaho Springs and Georgetown, over and up and around the famous Georgetown Loop and into Silver Plume and even a bit beyond.

But Harry goes back even further. He, along with Bill Sheldrick, under the pseudonym Leighton Slough, wrote a column called the Narrow Gauge Scene in the Slim Gauge News (now written by Charlie Getz). Harry’s series was not really a “how to do it” series, but more an inspirational “look how I did it” series. Harry was not only a skilled modeler, but a talented artist. He did some covers for he GAZETTE, and his articles were full of ink sketches drawn to scale, so you could use them as plans for model building. He included the locomotives of the C&S and the gondolas, flatcars, boxcars, cabooses and other rolling stock as well as the buildings along the line. At one time, he even manufactured and sold HO scale cast epoxy vehicle kits under the name Quik-Kits.

Irene and I found Harry’s series so valuable providing inspiration, information, and yes, techniques, that we decided (along with Sharon, our art director) to publish the series in a book. We wanted to preserve Harry’s information for future modelers. However, when we began organizing the book, we found we would need two volumes. So, we published volume 1, Up Clear Creek on the Narrow Gauge and volume 2, More Up Clear Creek on the Narrow Gauge using cover paintings by Harry. Volume 2 is still available.

In 1989, Charlie Getz and I drove up into the wilds of Wyoming to see Harry’s layout. At that time, Harry was working as a cowboy or ranch hand and had built his layout in an unused bunk house. It was quite a sight. The track ran over the toilet, across the bathtub, though walls, around shelves, filling the house. Harry’s work space was a small piece of Masonite at the edge of his benchwork. He just pushed the swarf from his model making off onto an ever-growing pile. Several years later, Harry and his wife, Bobbi, moved back into civilization and Harry bought a large trailer, cleared it out, and put his layout in it.

Even later, he donated the layout to the Union Depot Museum in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where it was removed from the trailer, forklifted up into the museum and installed. As Charlie mentions, you can go and see it during the forthcoming National Narrow Gauge Convention this year in Denver.

Several readers have emailed to say how much Harry influenced and inspired them. He had the talent to capture the feel and look of a building or scene with just the right amount of detail. His devotion to the C&S was total and resulted in a layout worth preserving.

His articles are full of prototype information for the rail-fan, and modeling data for the narrow gauge modeler. If you want to model the C&S Clear Creek line, it’s all in his articles and books, or if you need a depot, mine, locomotive, car, or city building for your freelance layout, Harry described it.

I met Harry at his bunk house and once at a Narrow Gauge Convention. He was always helpful and understanding as an author, an enthusiastic modeler, a gentleman, and his passing is a loss to the hobby, but remember his Union Central & Northern Clear Creek Division is on display and is a must see for any narrow gauge modeler. He will be missed, and our condolences to Bobbi.

—Bob Brown, Editor