My love for Kalmbach’s book The Mohawk That Refused To Abdicate and other tales is no secret to readers of this blog. David P. Morgan’s prose and Phil Hasting’s photos breathe life into a remote past I’m too young to have known first hand and I return to this volume again and again, finding comfort each time. Reading these stories I long for a time I cannot visit, while the many places they visited are now unrecognizable, having been trampled by the relentless march of time.

The ability of language to transport and transform is a mystery and a gift that continues to amaze me and I’m grateful to those who exercised that gift with the skill and grace that Morgan and his peers did.

Words are important but ours is a visual generation now, with nearly everyone carrying a camera in their pocket or purse disguised as a phone. However, just because you have a camera, that doesn’t mean you can communicate well with images. Video has its own language, its own craft, its own mysterious power to transport and transform when skillfully used.

Some of you have seen this video before, some of you haven’t. And, as a friend suggested, its content and theme feels alien in a hobby dominated by overt commercialism. With such a focus on stuff, we aren’t that comfortable with the ideas and thoughts so well voiced by Ken but behind every one of our attractions to trains, there’s an emotional core looking for a way to come out.

I wish a Merry Christmas to all.



  1. Warren

    Well done, and thanks for posting the video. Like Ken, I’m more concerned with evoking and era and a place. I want to be able to show what I build off, and have someone from the area tell me that it looks like home. Easier said that done though, but then that challenge is part of the attraction for me.

  2. mike

    Hi Warren,
    Yes, it is easier said than done but that’s what makes it worth doing.


  3. Jeff

    We, as modelers, tend to be drawn to what others turn a blind eye to. For example, a run-down urban area will look to most as an eyesore. To a modeler, it’s a gold mine – historic architecture, colors, angles, faded paint and signs from better times – all powerful, evocative images. I too am drawn to the country setting, especially in the winter. The crispness of the air, the color images that almost appear black and white, the decaying structures that tell a tale of America in the past. I get out of the truck and I feel connected when my feet hit the ground…like a magnet affixed to steel. I love those steam-era books…the images display time, strength, urgency and a sense of place and time in our past.
    Recreating it is our modeler’s journey…to invoke these feelings in us and those we share our visions with…and a wholly satisfying one.

  4. mike

    Beautifully written Jeff.