Howard Zane spent a lot of time in New Hampshire as a child, and used to live at the base of Mount Piermont. This is the inspiration for the name of the Piermont Division of his Western Maryland model railroad. Most of the names found on the railroad are named after fond locations in Zane’s memory. Modeling of West Virginia was an afterthought; previously Zane did not want to keep any particular town in mind, because he would then feel compelled to model that town. Most of the structures and scenery on the layout are freelance designed. Zane discovered West Virginia in 1985 when he started to play old time music there. He fell in love with the Western Maryland so he changed his layout to be modeled after it, keeping the town names.
The Piermont Division is modeled after West Virginia in the spring of 1955. This was a dear time period for Zane when he was 17 and had started driving, chasing steam wherever he could. He would go to Pennsylvania and watch the various train operations. In a way, he uses the layout as a way to recreate the past era that he loved.
When Zane models, he tries to work from memory as much as he can, but he also has to conduct research with old books. Starting his build in 1983, he has been able to accomplish so much by having some very late nights while also working his normal job. Eventually being able to retire early, he has further been able to dedicate time to the layout. His building efficiency can be attributed to working in industrial design and having experience making architectural models. All the work on the model has been done without the use of plans or mockups, he simply gets an idea in his head and scratch builds it.