I grew up in a small town south of St. Louis served by the Missouri-Illinois Railroad (M-I), a subsidiary of the Missouri Pacific.  Because of a lifelong affinity for this short line, I began modeling the M-I in 2015 and constructed a layout based on the area around Festus and Crystal City, Missouri. This initial layout was 90% complete by 2018 when we moved from south Kansas City to Parkville, a small town northwest of downtown KC across the Missouri River. The layout was dismantled and items such as switches and structures were salvaged for re-use on a new layout.

Once settled in the new house, the basement was renovated to provide a pleasant train room with plenty of extra space for a workshop and a sitting area. I would again model in Proto:48 (O scale 1:48), but the layout locale would be based on the southern end of the M-I, modeling its Ste. Genevieve subdivision.

My goal in modeling is to create a railroad in miniature where friends and guests can operate the model trains and bring it to life, hence the reference to a large, multi-year, horizontal, kinetic performance art installation

What does that phrase mean?  The project is certainly large, comprising nearly 900 square feet of space.  Construction began in June 2019 and will take several years to complete (of course, is a model railroad truly ever complete?). Obviously, it is horizontal (better for keeping trains on the rails) and trains are designed to move goods from one place to the next. As to the performance and art, that’s where the people come in to bring it to life. Adherence to prototypical practices are desired, albeit in a loose fashion. Trains do not drag race around in a circle – rather, an engineer and conductor move freight and passengers in a thoughtful way, slowly building trains and switching according to a timetable and demand by customers and industries. Permissions are requested as needed to operate safely and smoothly.

This website aims to familiarize operators and visitors with the history of the prototype M-I and provide background on the rules used to bring the layout to life.  Although the track plan features a loop, it will be operated as a switching layout in a point-to-point fashion.

At the right are preferred vendors, suppliers and blogs for those interested in learning more about Proto:48 modeling or perhaps dipping a toe into the P:48 waters.  Explore the menu above to learn about the layout and the M-I. At the current pace of construction, I hope to complete the track work by Spring 2022 allowing for an inaugural operating session.