Athearn's Santa Fe "County Seat" Station sets the bar for
Product Review: Athearn Ready-To-Roll™
Santa Fe Train Station
by George Riley/photos by the author
Like most railroads, both large and small, the Santa Fe constructed a number of buildings through out their system to a set of standard plans. Beginning in the nineteen-teens to the early nineteen thirties a number of masonry depots were built at various county seat towns in the easternmost states served by the railroad. These were erected along the main lines in Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma and Eastern Colorado. The main structure with its gable roof housed the waiting rooms and offices while a flat roofed annex attached to one end was used for baggage handling, express and LCL freight. Interestingly the depots followed the same general floor plan and used similar architectural details as some of the "mission" style depots of similar size located in the western areas of the system. Due to their robust masonry construction most of these buildings are still standing although most are not in current railroad service.
Stephen Priest, a well known railroad history specialist, developed the drawings for the Marion depot that Athearn has chosen as the subject of this model. Our sample matched the measurements in these drawings nearly exactly. The depot model is completely assembled and decorated, and ready to install on the layout. The only items that need be added are gravel or concrete platforms and the various baggage carts, benches and figures to make the station come to life.
The model is fabricated using crisply rendered resin castings for the walls and roofs and delicate injection molded window and door inserts. Clear plastic glazing is used for all window openings. Measuring six inches wide by twenty one inches long the depot is an imposing piece. All of the walls and roofs are true and square with no evidence of bowing as is often the case with many resin based models. Assembly is neat and precise with any joints being almost invisible.
Where Athearn's depot truly excels is in the painting and decoration. The brickwork has finely painted concrete colored mortar lines. All colors are accurately rendered and the different colors are cleanly separated. The only issue in the decoration that this reviewer found was with the gabled roof. The prototype used dark green (almost "Brunswick Green") ceramic tiles. The color match is good on the model, however, the spaces between each of the roofing tiles shows the white color of the casting below. This can be easily remedied by adding a black wash to the roof. This will eliminate the "show through" of the resin beneath and accentuate the shingles' relief.
A Division of Horizon Hobby, Inc.
1550 Glenn Curtiss St.
Carson, CA 90746
Athearn Ready-To-Roll™ Santa Fe Train Station, Item #ATH95931
HO Scale, MSRP $129.98
The "County Seat" depot from Athearn sets a new standard to be met in preassembled HO scale buildings. Fit and finish is excellent throughout with only a single minor issue. The model stands up well to the closest scrutiny and is a good value when compared against comparable items. For Santa Fe fans it ranks closely with Warbonnet F-units as a must have model, in addition it will work well for short line operators and free-lancers who want a depot for a small city or larger town.