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Rural Area

The Rural area consists of several structures in Merlin as well as on Upper River Road, the road on the way to my house from downtown. As it's about five miles long and lined with interesting structures, I had to choose just a few to inhabit the area on my layout. (Selective compression at work.)

Also included is Pauley's house - well, an abstract version of it.

First on the road (Merlin will be covered next) is a marijuana farm (there are actually several large ones along the way) followed by a cow pasture and a cornfield.

On the other side of the street is a cemetery. Funny - while working on the cemetery in my upstairs studio, I couldn't help but think about the movie Beetlejuice – so I had to include him. My tombstones contain a few personal messages.

This is going to sound weird, but I wanted to include a car or truck which crashed into the drainage ditch on the side of the road – it happens often around here. But it seemed a bit cynical. Instead, when I added the cemetery, I made a subtle reference to an unfortunate nearby crash scene.

Here's a funny tidbit. I was looking for an appropriate way to model shattered glass at the accident scene. I happen to be driving down the road that I was modeling, and saw a pane of glass in the middle of the road a few hundred feet from its intended placement on the layout. (It had apparently fallen out of a pickup.) I stopped and picked up a small piece. And yes, those are the tiny bits of glass on the layout (not really visible in the photo).

A horse corral and market complete the structures on the road. Unlike in the real world, my Upper River Road leads to a bridge across the river – and into a 1960's trolley station.

Rural Design
A rough design for the Rural area
on dry-erase board.

Mountain Building
Mountain-building in the
Rural area.

"A" market...

Farms in Rural Area
...and a couple of farms.

Yes, that's Betelgeuse
in the cemetery.

Crash scene
Uh oh!

Rural Addition
A small, late-production alteration
to allow for a horse corral.

Parked at the market.


That eagle has a great view. (He's lucky I can't find an HO scale osprey who actually nests on the old Robertson Bridge.)


My good friend Linda is a very talented quilter. One day, she gave me a small piece of quilted material and asked me if I could fit it into my layout somehow. I thought about it for quite a while.

By a stroke of luck, I saw an HO scale Oregon Ducks Trailer Truck at a model railroad show, and I immediately had a vision of what I would do. (Linda and her husband Hank are big Ducks fans.)

I kit-bashed a building to create the L. Smith Quilt Manufacturing Company. Fortunately I had a perfect corner space in the general direction and proximity as Merlin, an area of Grants Pass close to our house, where Linda and Hank live. The piece of material Linda gave me is in the back of the truck. (I had to cut the doors open on the back of the truck.)

Planning L.Smith
Planning the layout.

Building Modifications
You can see some of the modifications I made to the building.

L. Smith
I see Hank back there
chopping wood.

L. Smith
L. Smith complete.

L. Smith Reveal
Hank (with camera) and Linda
at the introduction of L. Smith.
Friends Jane and Dean, as well as
Mrs. Pauley on the left, look on.

Merlin Distribution / Evil-Looking Tanker Co.

L. Smith has two neighbors on my layout. The first is Merlin Distribution. It was pretty simple and made a perfect place to store the plywood and quilt material sometimes put on a flat car or used elsewhere.

Evil-Looking Tanker Co. has a special use – it's another funny story.

After I built the cemetery, I realized it was very difficult to read the tombstones, especially for my friends who are around (or +) my age. I thought that having a flashlight close by would be helpful.

At first, I just put a small piece of track on the table and put the flashlight on it. Immediately, it looked something like the evil-looking tanker car usually parked in Merlin at a propane distribution company. Since I had to find another location for the flashlight, I built Merlin Distribution and relocated (and repurposed) the flashlight.

Merlin Distribution
My Merlin Distribution

Merlin Distribution
The real Merlin Distribution

Not a tanker
Wait a minute...that's not
a real tanker!

I thought so.

Evil-Looking Tanker Co.
The Evil-Looking Tanker Co.

Real evil-looking tanker
Doesn't the real one look evil?

Pauley's House

As the name reveals, this is kind of my house - well, most of it. Since it's an important addition to the layout, it's extremely well-detailed, inside and out. You can even see someone up in the loft with a camera. Hmmm.

This is the first major lighting job I did. As I've described earlier, I used the lighting system from Woodland Scenics.

Without enough space to fit it on the table, I invented what I like to call, the "Floating Diorama" by positioning it over an area near where it should appear. (This is where that break from reality I've been talking about has some wonderful benefits.)

Mockup of Pauley's House
As with many structures,
I start with foam mockup.

House Interior
Due to the house's visibility on
the layout, I decided to add
some interior items.

House Construction
Pauley's house under construction.

Lighting Controls
I built a little pull-out shelf
for the lighting controls.

Move-in day for the deck.

Looks like a nice summer evening.

Completed house, with lights

Glowing House
Kind of glowing in the sunlight.

The Completed Rural Area

Rural Area

Rural Area

View from Merlin
A view of the town from Merlin
(not possible in the real world).

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