Tom's Model Trains


This 4'x7' HO scale layout takes its inspiration from the Jersey Central Lines High Bridge Branch with its associated connections to the various mineral mines in northern New Jersey. While much thought and research was spent on investigating the prototype, the resulting model is only representational in nature and is by no means meant to duplicate any specific location. Hopefully, it captures the essence of the era and the geography. As with any project of this type many compromises had to be made during the construction process. What started out as a 4'x2.5' layout evolved, over many years, into its current size. Some day there may be room for expansion. 




In its present form the layout is primarily point to point starting at High Bridge Yard, into the tunnel at "C", up a hidden reverse curve and out of the tunnel at "D". At this point the track is 4.5" above the table top. The route continues upgrade across a truss bridge and over a long, curving deck bridge reaching a final elevation of 7" above table top and ending at Hopatcong Junction. There is a table top loop through a tunnel between "A" and "B" for continuous running which also serves as a run around track for switching and is also a good place to hide a train while others are run. There are plans to extend the layout to other industries or branches by means of a "Y" from track #8 at Hopatcong Junction and to some other destination from tracks #1 and #2 at High Bridge Yard.

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We join our train on track #1 at High Bridge Yard. There is a refrigerator car bound for the wholesale food warehouse on siding #3, a loaded hopper car for the coal yard on siding #4 and a caboose. Our engine, #93, is an 0-6-0 camel back type.


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Having aligned the switches our brakeman signals the engineer to back out of the yard. After our engine clears the switches, the brakeman realigns the route for the loop and signals the engineer to come ahead. As the train enters the tunnel at "B" the brakeman climbs back aboard the caboose and our train is swallowed by the darkness of the tunnel.


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Emerging from the tunnel at "A" our train continues around the loop till it reaches a point under the long, curving deck bridge. Here the engine is uncoupled and runs through the tunnel again.....


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......till it couples with its caboose a short distance past Middle Junction.


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After backing up to clear the switch to the siding, the refrigerator car is spotted at the food warehouse.

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One more reverse move then forward into the embankment up to the coal yards bunkers.


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 With our caboose still in front of the engine we back out of siding #4 and after our brakeman sets the switches, we proceed forward towards High Bridge Yard.


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Here the switches are set for track #1 and our engine and caboose drift to a stop on the siding. While the conductor finishes his paper work, our brakeman and fireman introduce us to the crew of our next run, a freight bound for Hopactcong Junction.


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 The engine on this train is #109, a USRA 0-6-0 switcher followed by  a couple of empty ore cars for the mine's yard track #7, a covered hopper and box car for the industries on track #5 the, mine's supply car also for track #7 and a caboose.

We're on track #2 at High Bridge Yard but have to wait while engine #93, the camel back with its caboose, back out of track #1 and then proceed forward into the tunnel at "B". Here they will "hide" while other trains are run.




In addition we are notified by the dispatcher at Hopatcong Junction that train #1210, a doodle bug, in route to High Bridge from track #8, will be delayed due to loading of some express shipments. After a short while, the doodle bug arrives and slips into track #1.

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 Finally we get authorization to depart and with the switches properly aligned, our train departs for Hopatcong Junction. After passing under the curved deck bridge we head toward Middle Junction. Here the signal shows our route is set for the main line and we head into the tunnel at "C".

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Our train labors up the steep reverse curve but at last exits the tunnel at "D". Leaving the tunnel, we pass through a cut in the hill and then glide over a truss bridge. The grade is steep, the curves are sharp and the guard rails are reassuring.



 With wheels squealing we round a sharp curve across a corner of a hill and onto the long curved deck bridge leading to our destination at Hopatcong Junction.




We sway and clatter across the switches and finally enter our destination on track #8.  Here we uncouple the supply car and caboose and wait for another switcher, #94 an 0-6-0T, to help us with our switching duties.


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After a few minutes #94 appears from where it was waiting on track #9. It couples onto the caboose and supply car and rumbles back through the switches to just before the curved deck bridge. Now with the switches aligned, it proceeds forward and deposits the supply car at the end of track #7.


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The tank engine, #94, waits here as our USRA 0-6-0 #109 reverses to deliver the box car and covered hopper to their destinations on track #5. Now it pulls ahead and back onto track #8 where we uncouple from the two empty ore cars and move ahead a few car lengths.







The diminutive tank engine with our caboose still on it's prow now reverses on track #7, through the crossover and then forward onto track #8 to pick up the empty ore cars.




With the ore cars in tow we reverse back towards the bridge and then, when the switches are set,  forward to drop off the ore cars on track #7. Tomorrow, the zinc mine's switcher will do the rest of the work moving around loads and empties.






Engine #94 recouples our caboose to the patiently waiting #109 on track #8 and then retires for the night to its home on track #9.




With our caboose attached and our crew aboard, we reverse out of Hopatcong Junction for the much easier trip down the hill to track #2 at High Bridge Yard. Once there we drop our caboose and the hostler takes over.







Not wanting to allow such a good day of railroading come to an abrupt end the crew invites us over to John's Hideaway on Mill Street for an evening of refreshment and entertainment. We gladly accept and eagerly make our way through the yard and down the street to our destination. One of these days I'll tell you about the fun we had there.