I guess perhaps you have to love history to love research into any area. You probably should anyway if you’re researching an area to model that is halfway across the country that you haven’t visited in twenty years! But research you must if you wish to capture the feel and look of that area you’re modeling in miniature.
I of course had to conduct plenty of research into the area around the Kanawha valley and the Hitop area before deciding to model this area. It helped that I had traveled through this area some twenty some years ago, in fact numerous times I have been in the Kanawha valley. I knew the feel for the scenery and landscape in the area, which I feel I’ve captured somewhat on the current layout.
You also have to know the businesses and industries in the area you’re modeling, not only to represent these on a layout, but to know how and where to route your freight cars to. I still am doing research on the area today, in fact, to determine the industries around Dickinson yard. I didn’t realize until this morning, or had forgotten, that there is an 84 Lumber and a Tractor Supply right across the highway from the yard. These will come in handy for my team track I just created on the layout extension.
There are many, many different sources to use for research. Some of the sources I have used, and continue to use include railroad books on the area, historical sites from the area, business directories including local yellow pages, industry websites, and various mapping apps such as Google Maps and Google Earth. Railroad historical websites are another source I have used, as well as even newspaper accounts from the valley. All of these can paint that picture of the area you’re modeling.
Finally, one other source of information I use is the industry database from the OPSIG group, which has proved invaluable as far as knowing how, where, and what your freight cars are coming from, going to, and what they’re carrying. I use this database extensively.
All these research materials can be invaluable in planning and operating your model railroad…