Friday, May 15, 2015

"Friendly Fridays... Lehigh & Susquehanna RR."

Directions to Wayne Sittner's secluded home not far off of the New York State Thruway include very specific details for turns onto an unmarked road into an unmarked driveway. After negotiating the winding trail under a forested canopy, the retired art teacher's home appears in a clearing, sitting on a shallow hill overlooking a large spring-fed pond with it's scenic man-made island.

The Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired design reflects the natural surroundings that Wayne and his wife cherish. The low horizontal lines of the home's wood and fieldstone siding and the generous amount of windows blend with the manicured hedges and fieldstone retaining walls. Although visitors have come to see the model railroad, a tour of the home and its landscaped property is an unexpected treat. It leaves everyone wondering, 'Where in the world does Wayne find the time and energy to achieve so darned much?'

Wayne has depicted the area around Wilkes-Barre, PA that he remembers from his childhood. His hand painted backdrops compliment the scratch-built structures on the narrow bench work.

Various 'fallen flags'  conducted business operations in the Wyoming Valley region and Wayne changes out his roster and even some structures to depict the different operations.

The 9' x 40' railroad only occupies a small portion of the basement which also houses a classic Lionel toy train 'set-up' with all of the smoke, bells and whistles, literally, plus assorted collections of military miniatures, antique dolls and vintage metal signs.

Each scene that is faithfully modeled comes with  fond childhood memories and accompanying stories, usually involving some sort of mischief.

Here is an example of a track side building that can be changed out as Wayne has built various railroad prototypes with the same 'footprint.'

Determining exactly where the layout ends and the backdrop begins is as difficult in person as it is in photographs. The artist's understanding of shading, shadows and perspective pays real dividends in this regard.
The Lehigh & Susquehanna RR was featured in Great Model Railroads 2014. Article author Paul Dolkos does a wonderful job of narrating Wayne's story, calling it an 'autobiography or self portrait.' I'll refer to it as 'a diary in 3D.' His artistry and attention to detail make the layout one to study. Weathering techniques are top-drawer and the familiarity with his subject gives Wayne an advantage in conveying a genuine flavor for time and place.

You can learn more from Wayne himself in a couple of weeks. He will be a clinician at the New England/Northeast RPM in Collinsville, CT, May 29-30th. As for us, this coming week we'll get back to some decisions regarding track plans and the resultant construction issues. Stay tuned.
Did you know? Seven railroads served the Wyoming Valley area in the 1950's including: the Erie; Central of New Jersey; Delaware & Hudson; Lehigh Valley; Delaware, Lackawanna & Western; Pennsylvania; and the Lackawanna & Wyoming Valley electric line.

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