Hello Friends,

So I wanted to start a Photo Album dedicated to my new Train Room and Layout. I am naming the layout Western Allegheny & Welch Railroad. Here is some background information. Most of my family is from Pittsburgh, dating back to 1902 when my dad's grandfather came over from Europe (there is some debate if it was Scotland or Ireland), while my dad's grandmother came from Poland. Both migrated to Pittsburgh and my grandmother was born in December of that famous year of the Titanic tragedy, 1912. My grandmother grew up working downtown at the William Penn Hotel at the coat check-in. She worked there for most of her life until she married and had my uncle and dad.

My dad grew up in the Steel City in an area known as Polish Hill, right off Bigelow Blvd on Ridgeway Street. He always told me stories of the glowing hot metal being transported by the submarine cars at night and seeing yellow and orange glistening on the hill tops as hot slag was being dumped. One of my favorite stories was when he would take the electric streetcars to Kennywood, and when they would go down the steep hills he could feel the rattle and weight of the streetcar gripping every bit of the rail to keep from jumping off. He told me that no rollercoaster or ride at Kennywood could come close to that streetcar.

When my dad attended Schenley High School he worked the summers at Jones & Laughlin Steel Works. He helped grease the tracks of the massive overhead cranes that moved the ceramic lined steel kettles and the specialized lifts for the steel ingots. He always told me the winters in Pittsburgh were never that harsh to the locals because most worked in a steel mill or on the railroad.

My dad went on to attend the University of Pittsburgh, but when he graduated the great steel towns of the U.S. were collapsing. He could not find a local job in his field, so he worked at a local pharmacy for a couple years until he found a job out in Minnesota. He was only there a few years until the company he was with sent him all over the U.S. where he was needed. He met my mom while in North Carolina. Soon afterwards he landed a good position in California. This is where my siblings and I were born. When I was still just a young lad, we moved back East to Virginia to split the distance of my dad’s family in Pittsburgh, and my mom’s family in NC. So Virginia in my heart is my home state.

I attended Virginia Tech, where I met my wife, and hired onto Norfolk Southern right after graduation. I always loved trains and now I was able to experience things I never thought possible. It was one of the best experiences I have ever had. It was challenging and exhausting work, but I was proud of what I did. I worked as a Trainmaster in Enola Yard in Harrisburg, Lancaster Yard, and Abrams Yard in King of Prussia, PA. I transferred over to the Engineering Department and trained at Enola Yard, Bethlehem, PA, and then Reading, PA. I was then promoted to a Track Supervisor at Conway Yard in Pittsburgh, PA. I always felt life was a giant circle, and here I found myself in the city I grew up visiting and hearing illustrious stories about. Well… now I have stories of my own, not just about the Steel City, but about the railroad that we all love.

Whether you are out West, in the Plains States, or on the East Coast, each of us here love trains and the stories connected with this beloved pastime we call the railroad.  So here is the beginning of my own railroad, which I would like to dedicate to my future daughter Aubrey, due to bless us on December 30th.

-Eric C. Welch

The Best Fans are Steam Fans!

...And Hokies!

Original Post

Eric, great start to your railroad. My grandfather worked for the N and W in Roanoke before moving to Suffolk where he became traffic manager for the new Planters Nut and Chocolate Company. Dad, my brother, our children, numerous nieces and nephews, my brother, and I went to VPI, Virginia Tech, or whatever the name was at the time... always Hokies.

Hope to see your layout sometime and look forward to reading about it here.

Bill Webb

 

Old Hokie 70

I am going to start at the very beginning of the project. My wife and I moved into this house in 2015, and where we wanted the layout was an unfinished side of the basement. I moved my old layout from my dad's house. When placing it in this room, it just did not look or feel right. It was very tight in areas and the unfinished concrete and insulation surrounding it just didn't look right. Out of nowhere my wife looks at me a couple weeks later and says, "Why don't you finish the room and create a new layout". She said the look on my face was if I saw a ghost. I was shocked I got the go ahead to create a room solely to my trains. I was also skeptical and a little upset thinking of tearing down all the work and detail I put into the current layout I have had since I was in 8th grade. So here are some photographs of the old layout as I was dismantling it. 

 

  

The Best Fans are Steam Fans!

...And Hokies!

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Photos (4)

There was a real Western Allegheny RR.    It was a shortline in the hills north of Butler and worked a couple of coal mines and interchanged I am going to Guess with the B&LE.    There are photos of an engine house with a 2-3 used ex-PRR H10s under steam.   And in the early 80s I chased it one day/evening.    By then I think the B&LE owned it because the locos were painted in the B&LE Orange.    They ran an A-B-A set of F units and still worked some coal load-outs.   The engine house by that time was just a 2 track open air enclosure with chain link fence around it.

My son went to VMI & married a Hokie girl. I have railfanned the original Western Allegheny  with video & still photos.  There is a book about it by Wayne Cole. All gone now.  The W&A interchanged with the B&LE at Queen Junction,Pa. At one time it went from the Allegheny River valley to New castle, pa.

Hello Eric,

This is your former neighbor Steve.  The last time I saw you was when you were moving your layout from your dad's house to your new house.  Your layout was a true masterpiece.  I am very glad to hear that you have embarked on a new layout in your new train room.  Your dad told me that you have finished or near-finished the train room and that you are ready to start on the new layout.  I look forward to reports of your progress and the Photo Album of the Western Allegheny and Welch is very much anticipated here.  My very best to your lovely spouse, and remember, I am not that far away if I can be of any assistance.

Best Regards,

Steve

pferddy posted:

Hello Eric,

This is your former neighbor Steve.  The last time I saw you was when you were moving your layout from your dad's house to your new house.  Your layout was a true masterpiece.  I am very glad to hear that you have embarked on a new layout in your new train room.  Your dad told me that you have finished or near-finished the train room and that you are ready to start on the new layout.  I look forward to reports of your progress and the Photo Album of the Western Allegheny and Welch is very much anticipated here.  My very best to your lovely spouse, and remember, I am not that far away if I can be of any assistance.

Best Regards,

Steve

Thanks Steve! It is great to be able to show the progress this time. I hope you and Cathy are doing well. I will reach out to you, as we would like to have you both over. This is just another reason why I love this forum. I am going to try and post pictures as things move forward. It might take awhile, but to me the building and designing is the best part. 

The Best Fans are Steam Fans!

...And Hokies!

Here are some photographs of the room under early construction. It is always such a gratifying feeling when you can build everything from the ground up. I did the framing, lights, drywall, floor and the electrical all myself with the help of my step-dad who is a journeyman master electrician. Also one of the best parts of building a room dedicated to a layout is the specifics. I added an individual 25 amp breaker with independent wiring to the three gang outlets that will power my transformers. I added additional light cans in the ceiling to prevent shadows on the layout and did a dimmer, so I can adjust lighting for dusk and dawn effects. I put a wall up to separate the back storage area of the basement. To prevent space restrictions from the swing of a door, I am going to build a sliding barn door stained to match the custom train cabinets my wife had made for me. The final touch is that I added in-ceiling speakers and in-wall hdmi and coaxial. As we all know, it is nice to listen to music and tv when working on the layout. 

The Best Fans are Steam Fans!

...And Hokies!

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Photos (7)

Eric -- A fabulous job on your train room.  You have constructed a fantastic room bespoke for the layout.  The sliding barn door is a great idea (wish I had thought of it for my basement) and I am impressed with the breaker dedicated for the transformers.  Look forward to your Photo Album as your layout progresses.  Maybe you will include a steel mill. 

Sorry it has been awhile friends. My first child was born on December 22, 2018. She was born with an undetectable heart disease called Super-cardiac Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Return (TAPVR). AKA: Her veins all grew to the wrong chambers of her heart. She was emergency transported to Johns Hopkins and once detected and the veins were traced where they needed to go, she went through open heart surgery at just 11 hours old.  Just seven days later after her first heart surgery, she under went a Cardiac Catheter procedure that showed her pulmonary veins were stenosing (narrowing). Unfortunately, with this rare disease, she was hit with an even rarer disease afterwards known as Pulmonary Vein Stenosis, which only happens in 1 of 14,000 cases of TAPVR. Johns Hopkins reached out to Boston Children's, Philadelphia Children's. and Children's National in DC who are also among the top Pediatric Cardiology programs and Aubrey is the youngest baby recorded in having stenosis this aggressive. 8 Days after her first open heart surgery, she had to have another open heart surgery. It was a couple of firsts in Johns Hopkins history:  They have never done two open heart surgeries so close together on a baby this young, and in medical history this particular surgery was never performed on a baby this young. Aubrey came out of these surgeries doing well and the Hopkins team did an amazing job. About two weeks later Aubrey was hit with Sepsis and was again fighting for her life. She fought through this and recovered fully. She came home on February 7th 2019. Only having her home for 7 days, on February 14th my wife, Paige, noticed she was breathing very hard and rapidly. My wife's mom senses kicked in and we cooked it down to Johns Hopkins ER. There the cardiac team came down and did an echo of her heart and veins. Unfortunately, her pulmonary veins on the side the surgery did not touch, started to narrow. Once again, the surgeons and doctors have not seen such an aggressive disease before. We were readmitted on Valentine's day to Johns Hopkins with a Cardiac Catheter procedure scheduled in the next couple days.  The Cardiac Catheter came and they were able to place a stent in one vein, but the other vein narrowed so badly that they could not even get the catheter through. All 3 cardiologists that perform this procedure at Hopkins tried. So after 10 hours in the Cardiac Catheter Lab, they had to stop due to the radiation levels. We were sat down at 11pm when they were done, and told Aubrey would need a third open heart surgery at not even 3 months old. On March 1st, Aubrey had her 3rd open heart surgery, as they mimicked the surgery they did prior, but on the right side this time. Aubrey fought through again and we brought her home on March 18th! She has been doing well cardiac wise. We did have another surgery two Fridays ago, as they placed a G Tube and did a Nissen Procedure, as her reflux and throat issues were really bad since she has had a breathing tube and NG Feeding tube in her throat since day one. 

Today I write this, as she is doing well and is such a loving and smiley baby. I feel it's important to post this, as this is how life goes. You have ups and downs and never know how things will transpire. All during my wife's pregnancy we were told the baby was super healthy and I never imagined anything like this taking place. I want you all to know that the days and nights I spent in the hospital, I would jump on this forum to read and take a break from what was taking place. It was a way I could enjoy the hobby I love and decompress, while still being there for my daughter and wife.  Thank you all for this forum and for the love of trains, it is more than just a hobby, it is a way to truly unwind from our daily stresses.  Here are some pictures of a future train buff! If she can still smile, then anyone can smile!

IMG_0493IMG_0261IMG_1310IMG_5690April 6, 2019IMG_5710IMG_5716

-Eric 

The Best Fans are Steam Fans!

...And Hokies!

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Photos (7)

Congratulations on the recovery of your little one. It is a great feeling to have them on the road to recovery. There will be plenty of time for the trains later on. Our first baby was born 3 months premature, and, had heart surgery, back when survival from that early birth was almost unheard of. Now, she is 42. So, keep having fun with the little one, they do grow up quickly.

Eric,  I have thought of you and your family from time to time and have prayed for Aubrey, Paige, and you!  I agree with Trainmaster04's comment!  

I am glad you were able to get time now and then to look at the Forum and get a bit of a reprieve from the stress!!

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