How did I get here?
I will give you a little background information leading up to my present interest in the DENVER & RIO GRANDE WESTERN narrow gauge railroad.
Born in England in 1946, I lived in West Wickham, a small town in Kent, about 12 miles southeast of London. I am told that I developed an interest that grew as I got older when I adopted the English pastime of “Train Spotting.” I used to walk to the West Wickham station to watch the local freight train which was powered by steam. In this area of the country, the commuter trains used third rail electrification so a steam locomotive was a train spotters’ treat. The electric trains were usually four car passenger train sets. I got to ride the train once a week when the class at school went to the swimming baths (swimming pool) at Clockhouse.
I later acquired a used bicycle which made my train spotting hobby much easier. It was a good ride to Beckenham Station but well worth the trip. We used to watch trains from the overhead pedestrian bridge. This was a high speed four track main line and sure was busy.
It was 1957 now and my parents decided to move to Canada. We moved to Brantford, Ontario, into a house that was a block from the CNR main line. I spent many late nights watching trains from the upstairs hallway window, where, at night, I could barely make out the colours of the westbound signals near the Brantford station. On Saturdays, I would watch the local way freight pull cars out of Brantford yard and head off down the track beside Clarence Street. I chased the train out along the back of the business district to the bridge where the tracks crossed the Grand River.
Our family relocated to Stoney Creek where the CNR Grimsby Sub ran at the back of the farm where we lived. I worked a large paper route and managed to save enough money to purchase a Hornby Dublo train set. I presume my familiarity with the British prototype still had stronger influence than the North American Railroads. It was only a year or two before I traded in my Hornby collection for some HO equipment. I was now converted to modeling Canadian National in the steam locomotive and outside braced box car era.
After moving into Hamilton, I had found a school friend who shared the same interests. We both were busy scratch building rolling stock from whatever materials we could scrounge. Northeastern scribed siding, wood stripping and structural shapes along with laminated bristol card stock was the mainstay of our construction efforts. My first brass locomotive was a CN 0-6-0 from Pacific Pike. A year or so later, a Pacific Fast Mail CNR 2-6-0 gave me my second brass engine. In the mean time, I had acquired a couple of first generation Athern Geeps. I was hooked on the hobby and my collection grew significantly over a period of time.
By the time that I had finished High School and found employment, I had joined the HO Model Engineer’s Society in Hamilton. I was active in the club and worked my way into the President’s role for two terms of office. I had introduced a number of new concepts to the club including standardization on Kadee couplers, a common paint scheme for locomotives and rolling stock and an equipment inspection system which adhered to NMRA standards and practices. It was here that I made friends with a new member named Lex Parker. He showed strong creative talents in the form of superdetailing and weathering techniques. I had already dabbled in weathering but had not been as successful as Lex.
Lex and I started sharing ideas which reinforced both of our modelling abilities. My skills were in the mechanical areas, wiring and track laying while Lex excelled in the creative areas of scenery, weathering and painting. I managed to convert Lex into hand laying the track on his next layout while he taught me painting and weathering skills. As a result, the quality of modeling improved for both of us. But, this desire for detail would be the instigator of a major change for both of us. Until now, I had modeled exclusively in HO standard gauge following Canadian National for the most part. My private road name of West Pine & Stoney Creek still was patterned primarily after Canadian National.
It was on a Railfan Weekend at Cass Scenic RR that Lex had a long and serious discussion with an On3 modeller from Welland by the name of Al Colquhoun. Lex made the decision to change scales. Well, one look at On3 and I knew that I wanted to trade all my HO equipment for this exquisite scale. I received a cool reception to the idea from the better half as I drooled at this On3 stuff. It took a couple of years of inactivity on my HO layout before my wife suggested that I look into On3. That is all that I wanted to hear so my HO equipment went up for sale immediately. Local hobbyists purchased about half of my collection. The rest was traded in to The Hobby Shop in St. Catharines for On3 models. The D&RGW in On3 had now found its way into MY basement.