This is one of my favorite scenes on the Hoosac Valley's original layout. It is definately New England!
A first look. I first saw Dick's layout in the winter of 1991. I met Dick at a show where I was showing a prototype of Delabarre Tap & Die for the first time. At Dicks' invitation, I went to his place in Adam, Mass. a week later. As I entered his layout room, he flipped on the lights and I was presented with this 24' x 40' "scene" that just took my breath away.

Though I've seen many outstanding layouts before and since, none has hit a more positive chord with me. The Hoosac Valley is a complete landscape – which can be easily viewed in its entirety or enjoyed a small section at a time. However you look at it, it conveys the feeling of the region (the Northeast United States) and the time (the transition era of the early 50's) better than any other example I've ever seen.

One could be satisfied just with the broad-brush visuals, but this layout was finished – down to super detailing of every structure and scene. If that wasn't enough – it was operated on regular basis. I've got to admire anyone who finishes a layout, and I also have to appreciate the layout that finally got me to think beyond scenery and structures. The trackwork is logical, realistic and flowing – none of that arc and tangent snap track look. Just as important, this also became the layout that I learned how to operate on and enjoy that particular aspect of model railroading.

So there you have it, the layout that has it all – Scenery, structures, detailing, trackwork, electronics, operation – the whole shebang. Then, about a year and a half ago, Dick built a new house and the layout came down. No, this is not a sad story – it just gets better. The layout was moved into an expanded space and as of this writing, about 95 percent is in place, and the first operating session is ready to commence. I could write a chapter on dismantling and moving, but suffice to say that when the crew was unbolting the parts, there was a steady chorus of people muttering…. "jeez, Dick!"….in response to Dick's proclivity for using every wood screw in sight and then some.

When I look back, moving this layout and making it bigger is in keeping with Dick's concept of layout evolution. When I said earlier that the layout was finished, that does not mean Dick ever stopped working on it as intensely as ever. As soon as I would come out with a new kit, he would blow out a huge hole and do that area over. This was happening before I met Dick and my arrival on the scene just gave him more excuses to start rearranging things.

I am, of course, proud of the fact that nearly all of my kits are represented on Dick's layouts. More importantly, though, just about all of them have been tweaked extensively by Dick and a couple are collaborations – most recently by Scott Mason – another good modeling friend. Many modelers have enjoyed the new ideas that have emerged from the dynamic of experimentation and collaboration with Dick. Throughout Dick's layout there are several works by his friends. Dick has been extremely generous in sharing this gem with countless modelers, which in turn has encouraged them to create their own masterpieces.

This tour will focus on both the original layout and the newer expansion. I was fortunate in being able to take over 800 digital photos of the Hoosac Valley just before it was taken down- so nearly every detail has been documented. When pouring over the photos, it immediately became apparent that every building and scene on the layout invites close inspection and reflection. It is, therefore, a colossal task to present this and that very fact has held me back. So, to get things rolling I have just a handful of pictures to present. Some old and some new. A track plan and better organization will follow as time permits.….enjoy.

One more note: These pictures are the property of South River Modelworks. You are encouraged to download them for your personal use. However, any duplication for commercial purposes, whether by mechanical or electronic means is prohibited by the U.S. Copyright laws.