Thursday, November 09, 2006

Saying my final good-byes to the Midland Pacific

Before I began working on the Oakland Harbor Belt concept for my layout, I was focused on a secondary mainline / branchline proto-freelanced concept called the Midland Pacific (MPC). I discussed the MPC briefly in an article in the Layout Design Journal (LDJ-28, Spring 2003). The real-life MPC was actually promoted in the early 1900s and a few miles of track were laid before the railroad vanished without a trace. It would have run from the Bakersfield, CA area to Port Hartford (now Avila Beach), as did my imagineered version. An article with a more complete discussion of the MPC is in production for an upcoming LDJ.

I had worked on the MPC concept for a few years, including buying appropriate equipment as it became available. Since I worked on the MPC concept for so long, that was an extended period of purchases. Many of the locos and rolling stock acquired for the MPC do not fit the OHB, so I've been selling them via eBay over the last few months. But the current "for sale" batch really signifies the end of the MPC concept. The MPC would have crossed and interchanged with parent Southern Pacific at Pismo Beach on the SP's Coast Line. I had envisioned a parade of SP through trains, including the famous "Overnight" freight service and the legendary "Daylight" and "Lark" passenger trains. Even though the limited-run nature of N scale is often frustrating, I had managed to acquire suitable consists and motive power for all of these trains.

But there's really no place on the OHB for any of these trains, except as static backgrounds for photos behind the Santa Fe Alice Street Yard or the Howard Terminal. The SP will still be represented on the OHB, of course, but it's the grittier workaday locals, not the glamorous mainline rockets. The Overnight cars went first. (For one thing, they are in more regular production now, so in the back of my mind I thought I could always replace them.) Then various other locos and cars went on the auction block.

But now it's the Daylight. And the Lark. These beautiful models from Kato are not "rivet-counting" accurate for the SP by any means, but their colorful liveries speak of an era and a place far better than words or (my) scenery ever would. Visions of these trains have been with me for a long time, through several layout plans and dreams: San Luis Obispo/Cuesta; Ventura County Railway (LDJ-26); the MPC; and the short-lived San Jose and environs concept.

Even though I'm a terrible pack-rat, there's only so much space even I'm willing to set aside for storage of models that won't fit on the layout. Sale of the ill-fitting equipment is also financing most (or all) of the track I'll need for the OHB. So I know this stuff has got to go. But like the end of any relationship, the parting is stirring up bittersweet thoughts of what might have been.