Tuesday, June 9, 2015

"Yada, yada, yada... Sykesville, USA"

I have several reasons for being so determined to include the town of Sykesville on my layout's track plan... enough so that I converted to multi-deck to get adequate separation from the other major layout design elements. One is practical. One is artistic. And one is purely emotional, but what the hell.

First, it offers multiple operational possibilities with four different industries congested along three spurs. They represent alternative businesses from the preponderance of mill operations on the Old Main Line and provide the opportunity for varied loads and varied rolling stock. That would be nice.

Second, the town has more of a horizontal, farmland aesthetic and a smaller scale at trackside from that of my other LDEs which emphasize verticality through the valley terrain and massive mill structures. I would like that variety, too.

Third, and perhaps somewhat irrationally, I finally have procured a kit of the Sykesville station that was produced in the early 1990's. I can't let that hard-to-find icon go to waste!

This photo from the early 1980's gives some idea as to the condition of the 100 year old station once it was shut down to passenger traffic. Like most passenger depots along the Old Main Line, it became a freight house for various railroad odds and ends.

After an exhaustive, but unsuccessful search for this kit, it dawned on me to contact a local Sykesville hobby shop. Duh! ...  Presto, Glenn at the Moose Caboose sold me one from his private stash at the original retail cost of  $19.95! The kit is actually nicer, and better detailed, than the photo on the box suggests.
The station is presently  a popular restaurant specializing in steaks, burgers, Maryland crab and beer. It is known as Baldwin's Station, after well-known B&O architect Francis Baldwin. FYI, Chris Rock filmed a scene here  from his 2003 film, Head of State. I missed it.
A sweet little structure that sits nearby is the refurbished 'colored schoolhouse.' Built in 1904, it was used to teach black children of the area while segregation existed. It is now a museum and after-school classroom for all of Sykesville's residents. It was in disrepair in 1960. Can't wait to scratch-build this little beauty as a nice background structure.

Sykesville is a cute little town with an historic downtown of quaint shops, restaurants and bed and breakfasts, plus a great hobby shop. It's a nice spot to share a weekend with your significant other... a little something for each of you.

A weekend getaway? Yeah, that's the ticket. Might be just what I need after the helix fiasco! Hey, maybe my wife would like to come along, too.

Did you know? After several days of tense negotiations, it was decreed that the cost of one helix in a finished rec room is a weekend of quilt shows, art galleries and antique shops, according to the household's Senior VP of Real Estate Distribution and Utilization, and mother of my smirking daughter.


  1. Re: Helix - reminds me of when, after the Hartford 2009 convention, I was energized to get more of the layout done with the goal of completing the "rough wood cutting" phase of layout construction, as much as possible, anyway. So I started benchwork along the outer wall, turning the layout from a U shape to a sideways E if you know what I mean. When my wife came down and saw the progress, she was like "Why do you need more layout, you haven't finished the other part yet!". I tried to answer, "Well, the space is here and I always intended to use it, and I need it in order to support operations, and, and...". She just gave me a look and went back upstairs. She of course had a pretty good point, but as a non-model railroader, her valid point made no sense in the model railroad world!