Many model railroaders don’t have enough space to create large city scenes. Allen Keller’s downtown Memphis area on his Bluff City Southern model railroad is about seven feet deep. It has the illusion of having a lot of buildings, but there are really not that many. Some of his buildings are even removable and blank on the back side. Depending on where the building is placed, it creates the illusion of more depth.
Against the background are relief style facades of only about half an inch thick and his representation of the Hotel Peabody in Memphis is actually a couple of buildings put together. The whole scene back from the track in this area is only about 18 inches or so, proving there is a lot going on in such a small area. His building serves as a coving effect for the right angle of the corner.
Allen’s father grew up in Toone, Tennessee, an area he included in his model. His grandfather owned the cotton gin, which Allen has modeled here on his layout, pulling from his memories as a child. He speculates that many modelers will model what they remember from their youth.
Allen has tried to represent the South as best as he could and has worked at creating realistic scenes so that people can fill in the extra details from their own memories. It is very rewarding for Allen when others are reminded of something in real life after viewing his layout. Allen never thought that operating on his layout was for him, but he encourages others to give it a try. To him, it is the best reason to create a layout and a great way to interact with your friends.
Want more videos like this? Watch more from Allen Keller’s Great Model Railroad series in the Model Railroad Academy archives.