For Gil Freitag of the Stony Creek & Western, model railroading has been in his blood since he was six years old. As one of eight kids, he bought some Lionel locomotives from his local hobby shop and built a small layout he operated until he was in college. He tells Model Railroad Academy’s Allen Keller that the genesis of his current layout began when his wife, a librarian, brought home a picture of the old Stoney Creek bridge. Always an avid structure builder, he modeled the bridge from scratch materials even though he didn’t have a layout! After acquiring a couple of HO locomotives, he started lettering them for his future layout. When he ran out of the letter “e” on his decal sheets, he compromised with the spelling of the name “Stoney Creek” – and the Stony Creek & Western was born!
As his kids grew up and moved out, Gil added on to his modest layout in one room, acquiring his wife’s sewing room and the kids’ bedrooms, to where it now covers nearly the entire 2nd floor of his house – 28’ x 45’ in all.
Though it is a freelanced line, it has some of its roots in actual history – and Gil’s personal love for Colorado and Utah scenery, and both have been represented in his model railroad layout planning. The Santa Fe was looking to build across Colorado, but due to a court case it lost with the Denver & Rio Grande, it “acquired” the fictional Stony Creek & Western, and continued to the west coast via Arizona.
His narrow gauge railroad was originally only a 24” loop display, but as his layout was enlarged he built a dual gauge Rio Grande mining branch with which he interchanges freight.
As for scenery on the Stony Creek & Western, Gil says if it’s tried-and-proven, he’ll use any technique. Much of his hills and mountains were constructed of hardshell material, with dry colors originally (ala John Allen), but now has switched completely to acrylics to achieve his incredibly realistic colors.