The HO scale layout spans an area 72 feet long by 20 feet wide, and trains travel through time in a replica of Gadsden Alabama in the mid 1940's to 1950's.
In the 1980's when the layout was first constructed there were no ready built industries and structures that came close to what the members were looking for to replicate Gadsden in the 40's. Most all of the structures were scratch built out of card stock, aluminum foil, photo negative film, and balsa wood. As technology advanced the Club began to use "kit" construction to add to the 125 or so structures and replace aged or damaged buildings.
There are two main industries used as the focus points of the layout. The old Republic Steel Mill on the west end of town (demolished and torn down in reality in 2009), and the Goodyear tire plant on the east end of town ( still in operation ).
The rail bridge crosses the Coosa River and allows the trains to transit down the middle of Locust street through downtown Gadsden two or three times a day. Republic Steel, the old Gadsden and Attalla depots, Dwight's Mill and numerous coal mines and other businesses, long since gone, live on in "our Gadsden". There are scores of other buildings that actually depict Gadsden in the 40's and many are still standing and being used to this day. As you view the layout your are actually looking at Gadsden, Alabama in miniature with rail lines of yesteryear such as the Southern Railway, the Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia (TAG) which had it's rail end in Gadsden and connected to the L&N. The NC&St.L also used lines through town. Today CSX owns the ex L&N line which is leased to and operated by the Alabama & Tennessee River Railroad.
Here are some views of this HO scale layout:
Downtown Gadsden. The old Etowah County Courthouse (rear) is in the center of the photo and faces Broad Street on the opposite side of the building. Locust Street runs in front of the gray office building in the left of the picture. The L&N rails ran in the middle of Locust Street and to the south (left) is the L&N Coosa River bridge.
To the west of downtown Gadsden is the old library (rear center) and the church (front center). The N.C. & St.L. rails can be seen in the foreground of the picture and the L&N rails parallel them through town. Just to the west (right) of this scene is the old L&N station.
The L&N Coosa River bridge model is a condensed model of the prototype. The right hand span is a swing bridge (no longer moveable) which could open to allow river traffic through. Gadsden was originally known as "Lafferty's Landing" and, many years ago was a major port for river traffic on the Coosa River. It is hard to imagine that today!
Just to the east of the Coosa River is the Goodyear Tire & Rubber plant, one of the remaining industries in Gadsden that is still in operation. The model shows the plant as originally constructed. There is now a large modern addition in front of the original building that blocks the view of this classic structure.
The other major industry in Gadsden was the Republic Steel Mill, no longer in operation. Some views of the model of this industry are shown below:
CLICK HERE for other scenes on the Coosa Valley Model Railroad HO scale layout: