A look inside Kalmbach's in-house layout: The Milwaukee, Racine & Troy (MR&T)

Posted by Rene Schweitzer
on Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Let me preface this post by saying that Kalmbach's in-house layout is HO scale. However, when I asked forum users if they still would be interested in seeing photos of it, I received a resounding "yes!" So if HO scale isn't your thing, I won't be offended if you skip this post.

Click on any of the photos to enlarge!

Kalmbach's layout is called the Milwaukee, Racine & Troy (MR&T). It dates back decades and if you'd like a more detailed history, I'm sure you can find more at Model Railroader's website. The original layout was built in our Milwaukee office, but it was moved to a larger room and expanded in our current office in 1989. It is much, much larger now, in a room most of you would love to have for any scale of layout.

This track plan hangs near the entrance to the MR&T and shows the scope of the layout.

The view from the hallway to the entrance. There are other layouts in the hallway, which is what you see in the foreground.

The view just inside the entrance: Kelly Island.

Rounding the first corner is the Milwaukee lakeshore.

Approaching Milwaukee.

Leaving Milwaukee. Note how long this stretch is.

There are two cases of equipment on the walls.

Rounding the second corner. The red section is the original section moved from our old building. (Note: the red was originally a vintage burnt orange color!)

This is one of my favorite scenes. See the magazine pages underneath? It notes that this section was featured in a Model Railroader article.

This is the HUGE yard/storage area. The room is so large that, due to fire codes, it required a second set of doors.

Approaching Williams Bay.

Another favorite scene as you round the next corner.

Deep inside the layout. I'm 5'6' and am holding my phone near my head.

This bridge has been featured on the cover of Model Railroader.

Approaching Winter Hill.

The late Art Curran built (and named) many of the structures on the older part of the layout.

I've given hundreds of tours to visitors over the years, and it wasn't until I took my cell phone along today that I realized how difficult it is to photograph the MR&T. The layout twists and turns, and the grade increases as you walk into the room. As the layout raises up, you begin to feel quite small. The lighting isn't too bad, but it's impossible to get the scale of things. I tried my best. I could take 100 photos and still not show you everything.

Note: If you are ever visiting Waukesha, we offer free tours! Buzz into the lobby and request one. You can see the layout and take as many photos as you like.

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