I've included on my layout many items that are of deep personal meaning. It's my way of giving daily gratitude and honoring all the folks who helped me build my railroad and spur on my interest in trains, both real and model.
My railroad is named the Free State Junction Railway. I live in Maryland and Maryland is nicknamed " The Free State" which was born out of a 1923 editorial appearing in the Baltimore Sun newspaper suggesting Maryland should leave the Union rather than be part of prohibition. Mind you that on my layout, the City of Patsburg is the headquarters for the FSJR and the main industry is a brewery. LOL!
I wanted to model all the class one and short lines that ran throughout Maryland during the post WW2 days and thru 1960. Those lines being the B&O, Western Maryland, Pennsylvania, Norfolk and Western ( N&W owned tracks into Hagerstown ), the Baltimore and Annapolis, Canton, and Maryland & Pennsylvania. I also include Reading Co. which had some trackage rights over WM into Hagerstown.
Honoring family and friends was/is important to me. Located in a prominent place on my layout is a lake. The lake is named after my brother Chris and Chris Harrison who also helped out.... hence the name "Lake Christopher". My brother Chris built the bench work and did a fabulous job! I also placed beside Lake Christopher a replica of his real life cabin located in western Maryland near a lake. My brother is a home builder, so I also have a house under construction with his company name on a sign advertising who is building the home.
My good friend Randy Harrison ( a forum member ) was also a tremendous help in building the layout. In one corner of the layout I created a HUGE mountain which I call "Mt. Randolph" in honor of Randy who was and is a HUGE help.
Another friend ( who is not actually a train person but knows of my love of trains ) Todd Butler, keeps an eye out at thrift stores for train related items .... and he's made some great finds. This is why I named a particular junction on my layout " Butler Junction ". Todd is the "VP in charge of procurement of unusual odds and ends".
I also have on my layout some items that go back to when I was given my first layout at 4 years old. These and other items from the 50's and 60's remind me of my parents who were the "Santas" that gave them to me each Christmas as my layout expanded. As my mom, Mary, was THE " Spirit of Christmas " around our house, I made a Mary Christmas Shoppe which I will place on the layout next Christmas season. My two uncles, now passed on, who lived in England would send me Matchbox vehicles for Christmas when I was a kid. I have some of these vehicle on my layout.
As my father was a D Day Vet, I created a small park on my layout which I call Freedom Park. I visited Omaha Beach in Normandy France with my father back in 1998. As we walked the beach and he told me his story of landing there June 6,1944 with the Big Red One, I picked up a stone from that beach and brought it home with me. Mind you this was several years before beginning my train layout. That stone from Omaha Beach now sits on my layout in Freedom Park. A sign in Freedom Park tells the story. A piece of the Berlin Wall also resides in Freedom Park as it was given to me by a dear friend Daniela, a German, who lived in Berlin at the time the wall came down.
My uncle Leon was a traffic manager for the Kennecott Copper Corp refinery located in the Baltimore, Md. area. I have a K-Line Kennecott MP 15 switcher and gondola which I run on occasion. Uncle Leon gave me my first engineers hat and it was the real deal from the New York Central System. ( Admittedly a bit large for my 5 year old head but I proudly wore it anyway .. LOL! ) A NYC salesman gave it to him and he gave it to me. Uncle Leon dealt with most of the major railroads back in the day, as they all solicited him to route Kennecott freight over their railroad.
Just down the street from where I live, sits the only remaining iron truss bridge designed back in the 19th century by, Baltimorian, Wendell Bollman. This type of bridge boasted a new patented design and was the first railroad bridge made out of iron. The B&O had about one hundred of these bridges throughout its' system. Check out Harpers Ferry WV photos from the Civil War period and you will see Bollman bridges spanning the Potomac River as it carries the B&O mainline west from Maryland into West Virginia. No one knows where the one now located in my town of Savage, Md was originally located. This bridge is now a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. I have a model of this bridge on my layout. Had to include it!
One of my favorite restaurants at which to eat is located in Fells Point, the oldest section of Baltimore City and located on the water front. ( a B&O Docksider used to do street switching/running in Fells Point ) The name of the restaurant is Berthas and Berthas is famous for muscles. Of course I have a custom rendition of Berthas on my layout. It's one of two. Mine is the first Bertha's model and when the owner of Berthas saw my model he had to get one too! Richard Starsnick of Catonsville, Md. made the models.
Many decades of personal treasures and wonderful memories are part of my layout. Each time I walk into my train room they make my heart smile.