The first view upon coming down the steps into Johnny’s basement.
by Matt Gentry
I’m not exactly sure when I was talking with Ricky Bivins that he mentioned a trip to Hawsville, KY for a visit to Johnny Dawson’s (member of the Owensboro NRHS) layout, but from what I had heard of the layout, I knew that I wanted to go. Having his layout largely influenced by western railroads, mostly Union Pacific, I knew it would be right up my alley! What a lot of you may not know is that within recent years I have become infatuated with railroad super power; i.e. Cab Forwards, Challengers, Big Boys, Gas Turbine Electrics (all three variants), GE U50, EMD DDA40X, and so on. The size of Johnny’s layout, that I had come to understand, had to be able to accommodate some of the locomotives! Rest assured, I was not disappointed.
The wall of locomotives on display.
Upon entering Johnny’s basement, a layout I can only describe as awesome, was laid out before my eyes! His layout, although not totally finished with scenery, was a sight to see. The track work and track plan is wonderful! This is the first personal layout that I have been to with such use of grades from one level to the next, without the use of a helix, all on the same line. The bridges incorporated into the layout are incredible also, creating wonderful photo opportunities of a single train or of a meet.
The next surprise was the wall of locomotives. That list
When the passenger trains can’t get you to your destination, there is always the airport.
of super power locomotives listed above? Yea, they are mostly all accounted for! This was the first time I have seen a model of the Union Pacific Coal Turbine in person. And true to the real monstrosity, this model is huge. I will have to be back and witness it in action. I am also very happy to see Johnny’s collection of modern day diesel locomotives, such as the Union Pacific SD70Ace Heritage units. (Honestly, I’m happy to see that Union Pacific and Norfolk Southern has a Heritage Fleet, period. I wish some other Class I railroads would do the same!)
In the end, I came away with many new ideas to incorporate into a layout of my own, whenever that day
One of the long views down the layout.
will come. I want to personally thank (again) Johnny Dawson for his hospitality and opening his layout and home for us to come for a visit. The next open house Johnny has, if you can manage, I highly suggest making the trip.