Three cheers for stations!

Posted by Bob Keller
on Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Avert your eyes 'lest ye be turned to stone! My first 'as an adult' O gauge RR. The station is in the center. If the shape looks familiar, for many years this benchwork was the CTT test track.

My Salute to stations: Every layout needs one (or more)

It might not be a given that everybody who has a layout has a station, it is probably true that anyone who has a layout wants a station. They have just not found the right one.

When I got back into toy trains (circa 1993) and built my first layout since childhood, one of the first things I wanted to buy was a station. The few years in the late 60s I had N scale did not yield station – oh, I saw them in the magazines, but never in the few shops I visited. I did get a small factory that, with a little imagination, I dubbed my station. But it was still a factory.

The short time I was in HO (early just long enough to accumulate a few locomotives and cars) I passed on it entirely. Why? Because compared to N scale, the HO trains were gigantic. Yeah, I know.

My first layout was fairly compact, 5 x 7 if I recall it. I wanted three running loops and freight and passenger stations. My passenger station was the K-Line depot that, I believe, was originally by Marx. The freight station was by Lionel. Both were in the center of the table. Not practical, but essential for placement of the two outer tracks.

When I moved to Wisconsin (or more accurately, when I got a basement) I built a roughly 16x22 foot layout. It was narrow (two outer loops and an inner loop) and I used additional benchwork to build the town. I used the K-Line station as the suburban stop but got the Plasticville station for the city stop.

Why Plasticville? Well, it was small, but it had a dignified big city look about it. The station that replaced it was a gift from my wife, a Department 56 station. This looked great, and as they say, no assembly was required. Well, except for inserting the light into the base. It looked grand and served as they key city depot for years.

I added an additional station. What I called my commuter stop. I found it in a Jewell Osco’s Christmas decoration section. I don’t know who made it  (it is simply marked Train Station). I didn’t notice until I got home that there was no provision for lighting it. On the one hand it didn’t matter, but on the other I was surprised because there was an interior with a ticket seller and customer.

My current Central Station is another Department 56 building. This was part of a building series for Kohls called St. Nicholas Square. It looked both like a station that could have been anywhere in Middle America. It was also illuminated.

The Plasticville station has since been retire (oh, it is in a box “somewhere” in the basement.) This was a great rural station made, I believe, by Scenic Express some years ago. It came painted and looked realistic and rustic. It feels resin, not ceramic and is solid (no internal lighting.) About five years ago I had to cut the footprint of the layout significantly (now maybe 12 x 22) and it is my current rural station.

But I have not discarded the rest – the line might expand in the future.

So count me in as a fan of stations – they generate traffic and add a personal touch that would connect most of us with today’s railroads, in spite of the fact they mostly haul freight, and not people.

In a more wide open setting. The K-Line station was my rural stop. It was, of course, a vital location (not the anti-aircraft missiles nearby).

This solid resin station replaced the K-Line station. But the K-Line depot isn't gone, just in storage.

This was the first city station for my Wisconsin layout. The Plasticville Depot is nice and dignified, though obviously small.

My first city station upgrade was this model from Department 56. The downside of the D56 buildings is the darned large plug. Tried drilling a few holes in the benchwork for the plugs, but if I'd kept that, I think it would have made the benchwork sag! The Woodland Scenics Just Plug lighting system, or Menards Plug & Play lighting have much smaller footprints.

The station at night – it looks pretty impressive if you ask me.

This little no-name station was a commuter stop on the Southwestern corner of my layout. I was surprised there was no way to light it since it had interior decoration.

My favorite station and my current main city depot is from a Dept 56 line made for Kohls. It has lots of nice detailing and had a festive personality.

The rear of the station has nice trackside details like baggage and signage.Just add a few passengers awaiting their train and it looks terrific.

The St.Nicholas station at night. If it looks familiar, I used it as a prop in a story on making snow and another on composing city scenes.

A freight blasts past the depot.

My railroads are freight heavy, but there is always room for a neat passenger station.


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