Harold Werthwein

Overview of the Erie Railroad

Harold Werthwein
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Duration:   2  mins

In the first video of this series, Allen Keller introduces the Erie Railroad of Harold Werthwein. As a young man, Harold rode the Erie, watched it, and loved it. This affection for one railroad evolved into a lifetime of study and exploration. Then he modeled the Delaware Division between Port Jervis and Binghamton, New York in HO scale. This series of videos is a tribute to Harold and his impressive work.


The Erie moved a lot of milk and fresh produce, as well as the usual freight. One advantage the Erie had over other Eastern railroads was an extra-wide right of way. The Erie was built to six-foot gauge. When the wide gauge was changed to standard in the 1880s, a better-than-normal clearance was the result.


Harold Werthwein was an armchair modeler who got serious about building — very serious! The Delaware Division could handle over 40 trains during an operating session. Harold captured the feel of the Erie on this large layout due to careful attention to the scenery of southern New York and northeastern Pennsylvania.

This area includes probably the most famous railroad bridge of all, the Starrucca Viaduct.


Harold decided to model the Erie for a few reasons. First, it’s the railroad he grew up with; second, it traverses an area with beautiful scenery that lends itself to a nice model; and third, accessibility. Everything in the layout is within a two-hour drive from Harold’s home, so if he had a question or problem while working on it, he could go look at the area in person.


The HO-scale Erie Railroad fills Harold’s 85×30-foot basement. The benchwork is open grid. Most of the visible track is hand laid. Our trip begins in the hidden staging yard for Elmira, New York.

Watch more from Allen Keller.

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