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You can’t go back to 1954 and relive those days, at least not in northern Illinois. You CAN, however, find this and other such scenes in, of all places, suburban Dallas, Texas, in the home of Eric Mumper. Eric grew up in Ottawa, IL and now lives in Plano, TX, where he (with some help from some local modelers) is building one hell of a CB&Q layout in a 24x60 second-floor addition over his garage.


Eric was very fortunate to have purchased his house “layout ready” from another modeler who had the addition built for his double-deck HO scale Colorado-themed layout.


He also inherited the previous owner’s VERY talented work group, who come over every Tuesday night to help work on or operate the layout!


Being from Ottawa, it should be no surprise to anyone that Eric is modeling the Q’s Montgomery-Streator line, commonly known as the Fox River Branch. Ottawa has always been the operational hub of this line, both for the CB&Q and Burlington Northern and for current operator Illinois Railway (part of the Genesee & Wyoming family).


Eric has chosen not to model the present day, nor the 1970s and 80s of his youth, but instead October 1954, which allows him to have passenger service (Aurora-Streator motorcar trains 133-134) and, with minimal fudging, the occasional O1a Mikado or steam switcher.


What follows are some photos and descriptions of Eric’s layout. We’ll start at Streator and generally work our way north, but you might want to refer to Eric’s employee timetable (separate file), which contains a trackplan, as we go: