Scenes in Lake Wobegon

The local grain co-op elevator, which we see rising behind the train station, dominates the town of Lake Wobegon as a Boston and Maine boxcar sits parked next to the loading dock. (This photograph and those that follow are by Tom Emmett and Sue Osberg, Superintendent, Little Rhody.)

Layout Overview

The general setting and scenery for the NBRR is the Midwest — small towns and farmland with another section of hills and valleys that suggests distant places with different terrain. This section is isolated using a scene divider, tunnel, and the layout access lift-up. The layout’s main line is a Class 1 railroad, either Canadian National or CB&Q depending upon a flip of the coin. It is also serviced by a freelance short line, the North Bay Railroad (NBRR) that has trackage rights over a bit of the main line. The time frame is mostly the late 1970’s and early 1980s with the CB&Q surviving through that time. It is not a rigid time frame, but I only use first- and second-generation diesel power except for the one steam excursion loco.

There are two themes that run throughout the layout. The first is based upon the radio program “A Prairie Home Companion” and its Lake Wobegon and the second is based upon English mystery writers, stories, characters, actors and TV shows. Together they provide the names of places, businesses, streets and features. While most of the “mystery” references are connected to Dorothy L. Sayers, you’ll find familiar names associated with Colin Dexter, Sir Arthur Canon Doyle and Agatha Christie and such characters and TV shows as Inspector Morse, Rumpole of the Bailey, Foyle’s War, Poirot and Midsomer Murders along with their characters and the actors.

There are three towns: Wimsey Corner; Lake Wobegon; and Sayersville. Wimsey Corner is a crossroad in the country, Lake Wobegon is a small town, and Sayersville is a small city where most of the railroad’s customers are located. The operating concept is for the main line to drop off and pick up cars at an interchange siding at Wimsey Corner. The NBRR then services customers in all three locations with the primary focus on grain. Both Wimsey Corner and Lake Wobegon have trackside grain elevators that feed the larger elevator and grain mill in Sayersville. Products and customers also include newsprint, coal for the Sayersville powerplant, lumber/building materials and general merchandise simulating both raw and finished products. NBRR also provides connecting passenger service via a RDC that originates at Wimsey Corner and stops at Lake Wobegon before ending at the main station in Sayersville and returning.

Another view of the co-op’s grain elevator and at right Keillor’s Feed and Seed.

Left: The intersection of Oak and Main streets in Lake Wobegon. Right: Some hooligans seem to have been busy on the Lake Wobegon water tower.

Left: The station at Lake Wobegon. Right: Lake Wobegon Lumber with a Chessie boxcar behind.

The loading dock at the Herold Star newspaper and the back of Bertha’s Kitty Boutique in Lake Wobegon.

Other scenes on the North Bay Railroad (NBRR)

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