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The Lake Erie & Ohio Railway was officially started on February 22, 2004, by Chris Burchett and Peter Maurath.  This N scale pike is actually a modular layout, with each contributor owning one section a piece.  Each section is approximately 3' long-by-2' wide;Layout design from George Baustert as of February 14, 2004 the assembled layout with both sections attached is approximately 6' long-by-2' wide.  The layout track/concept was designed by George Baustert after the dimensions and overall desires of the two ultimate owners were supplied.  The two sections are held together by nothing more than two latches on each side and supported underneath by an eight-foot table.  The base is 3/4" plywood and the sub-base is foam insulation board, as are the hills.  Overall, each module weighs no more than fifteen pounds.

   The LE&O was named after the two bodies of water where each owner resides--Peter being close to Lake Erie and Chris near the Ohio River.  The LE&O at the 2005 Amherst Railway Society train show in West Springfield, MA; Jan. 29, 2004The layout idea came into being after a Teen Association of Model Railroaders (www.tamr.org) convention in early February 2004 in West Springfield, Massachusetts, which was held in conjunction with the gigantic Amherst Railway Society train show at the Eastern States Exposition.  Wanting to display something with a little more to it, the two would-be owners set out to build a small N scale layout jam-packed with detail.  Since Peter lives in Cleveland, modeling the urban environment on his half was an obvious choice; and since Chris lived in the rather rural hill country of Southeastern Ohio, modeling the country was also a no-brainer.  Constructing the two sections at the same time over a distance of some 150 miles (with some weekends of actually getting together to put the two sections together, help Chris with the scenery, etc.), Chris and Pete finished the layout on January 27, 2005--one month shy of a full year.  Using cardstock, plastic styrene sheets, rods and tubes, Atlas flex-track, and other inexpensive items, the layout was constructed rather economically considering the amount of detail.

Franklin Module
   Let's start with the city of Franklin, the focus of Peter's half of the "LEO" and modeled as a large city (basically Cleveland) on Lake Erie.  On the lower section of the module isA view down Charles Zehner Boulevard, with some buildings in the Industrial District appearing on the left Baustert Avenue and the Franklin Industrial District.  Overlooking the Industrial District is an edge of Franklin's downtown business district.  In downtown, a person strolling along Charles Zehner Boulevard (named for the late PBS Tracks Ahead host) can find Hillcrest Medical Center, Club 19, Vezina Photography (named for TAMR member Newton Vezina), and BJ's Cafe (named for another TAMR member and past president, Brent Johnson).  Tammer Avenue intersects Zehner Boulevard next to Hillcrest Medical, and one can find on this section the Tim Vermande Cancer Center (named for Tim Vermande, a TAMR veteran who An overall view of Peter Maurath's module of the fictional town of Franklin, Ohio--the LE&O version of Cleveland still assists the organization tremendously) and the John Reichel Medical Building (named for yet another, albeit former, TAMR member).
   In the Industrial District, one can find along Baustert Avenue (named for the layout's designer) Neal-Seidel Manufacturing (named for two former TAMR members who assisted the group in the early days), Wagie Music (named for another former TAMR member from the early days who was also the association's first president), and Erie Energy's David L. Burris Generating Station (named for the TAMR's founder).
   The streets in downtown are lined with a particularly interesting form of street lights--spaghetti noodle.  That's right, the same stuff you use to make pasta dishes.  Did we mention we were economic here?  Numerous scenes are placed throughout the module to attract further attention to the already-impressive city.

Howerton Module
   Since there isn't much that can be done with a rural environment on a 3x2 module, a lot of scenarios had to be considered.  The ultimate module display ended up having Chris Burchett's module of the outskirts of Howerton, Ohio, a fictional town set in Southeastern Ohio State Route 88 cut right across the layout, with hills on either side, a creek that had been mostly channeled by a culvert, a couple industries, and a farm.  Who says you can't do much with this tight space?  The town of Howerton, which is not modeled, is a fictional town based on the New Straitsville area and named after an ancestral branch of Chris's family tree.  The main industries of this town is Heibur Manufacturing, named after Chris's parents' last names (Heiser and Burchett), and Baustert Coal Company, named after--you guessed it--George Baustert.  Heibur is "built" on top of the creek, with a re-enforced concrete culvert channeling the water to the other side.  Baustert Coal, an Erie Energy company, also has a mine office located on the highway level.  A folding security gate/fence is still attached to the building long after the violent coal strike days.
   One can find numerous trees throughout (using actual shrubbery for the trunks) as well as gas pipeline markers, phone line pedestals, electric poles with wires made of fishing line, guardrails along the road, and tall grass where the mowers can't or won't get to.

   A rather well done layout if we may say so, the LE&O is typically touring various train shows, but will be taking a one-year hiatus from the circuit to undergo some changes.  We've posted a construction diary with photos of the changes that will be coming to a show near you!  So be sure to check back at various times to see what's new with the LE&O.  Once we're touring again, be sure to stop by our table and mention you saw us on the Web!

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Copyright 2005-2009, Chris Burchett and Peter Maurath.  All rights reserved.
Please note that the Web site you are viewing is regarding a model railroad based on no real railroad.  All place names, companies, etc. are fictional.  Any resemblance to actual entities past or present is purely coincidence...or is it?
10/24/2009 12:00:00