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Don Janes’ HO Scale Green Mountain Division

A Boston & Maine freight led by a pair of RS-3s passes the Essex Jct. tower. The lead unit is a Bowser model and the trailing unit is Atlas. The tower is built from a Monster Model Works kit and the wooden bridge is scratchbuilt.

Don Janes’ HO Scale Green Mountain Division

December 2023by Don Janes/photos by the author

I built my HO scale Green Mountain Division layout to capture railroading in New England—in particular, Vermont in the 1950s. My original plan was to just model the Rutland Railway and have interchanges with Boston & Maine at North Bennington and with Central Vermont at Bellows Falls. The first scene I started was North Bennington since I had a scale model of the Rutland station built several years earlier by modelbuilder Rich Cobb. It was to be the focal point of the layout. I scratchbuilt the freight shed, water tank, ice house, coal dealer and section shanties using photos as a guide to add to the scene. Residential buildings behind the station were built from photos I took while railfanning there. The yard was laid out pretty close to the prototype, but with some compromises due to space limitations. Since the yard was mostly on a curve I had to scratchbuild all the turnouts to fit the available space. Other structures in the scene would be generic. My goal for the layout was to capture key structures and scenes so they could be recognizable to anyone who was familiar with the area.

My plan was falling into place quite nicely but then things changed. Alkem Scale Models announced that they were making a kit of the Central Vermont concrete coal tower that stood in White River Junction. Being a big fan of the Central Vermont, I just had to have this model so I placed my order, which I believe was the first order for the kit that Alkem received. At this point North Bennington was the only benchwork that had been completed on the layout, so when I finished building the coal tower I had to find a spot for it. Well, what better place to add it than a scene of the White River Jct. engine facility and yard?

Green Mountain Division


Years earlier I had built a 3×4’ module with a South River Model Works six-stall brick roundhouse and a turntable for possible use in a future layout. My friend George Dutka and I spent an entire morning moving the roundhouse module around the empty space until we found a spot we thought would work. It had to be close to the front of the layout because I didn’t want to be continually reaching over the layout to access it. The rest of the benchwork was built around the roundhouse module.

I had a fairly long space to build the WRJ scene, so I decided to build the engine terminal and freight yard as close to the prototype as I could. I would have loved to include the passenger station scene, but there was just not enough room without having that end of the layout all track and structures and no open scenery. I started adding more Boston & Maine equipment to my roster as they also had a large presence in White River Junction.

Green Mountain Division

ABOVE: The patrons at Elwell’s General Store pay little attention to a B&M train just arriving in White River Jct. behind freshly painted EMD F-2s. The store was offered by BEST Models as a train show special several years ago. The F-units are Highliner models painted in the short-lived McGinnis-era paint scheme.

The addition of WRJ now changed my plan for the layout. I decided to model various locations in Vermont with a few signature structures in each scene. My main goal would be to have at least a model of the actual station for each town included in the scene. I wasn’t going to try and model the towns prototypically as I thought it would be too overwhelming to try and find plans and photos, and I live too far away to visit the area on a regular basis. By taking this approach I could decide what town or area I wanted to model as I worked my way around the layout.

I had built a model of the station in Wells River, Vt., for a kit review and had a model of the Central Vermont station in Waterbury built by Rich Cobb; so at some point they would be added to the layout. I also had models of Rutland’s New Haven, Vt., and North Dorset stations that I could use if needed. Armed with these structures, I slowly worked my way around the layout, building one scene at a time.

Green Mountain Division

ABOVE: A Rutland caboose hop led by RS-3 201 is passing the North Dorset station. The station is built from a Rutland Car Shops resin kit. The water tank is built from an American Model Builders laser wood kit and the section shanty behind the caboose is scratchbuilt.

This is the second version of my Green Mountain Division, the first having been built in a 12×20 ft. room over the course of 20 years. It was featured in RMC back in November 2006 and October 2012, and also in Kalmbach’s How to Model Railroads of the 1950s and Great Model Railroads 2001.

When that layout was nearly complete, another 12×30’ basement room next to it became available; so I decided to start building the North Bennington and WRJ scenes. Once I was ready to move on, I would dismantle the original layout and continue in that room…

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This article was posted on: November 16, 2023