The overview of Cal Winter’s Florida East Coast Key West Extension model railroad starts in Glades. Cal narrates that in the furthest southern place where fresh water flowed in the Northern Everglades, water train of cars would be loaded up every day and sent south to a particular drop-off. Later in the day there would be another train that would come back and pick up all the cars.
The railroad needed a lot of water for its operation and there was no fresh water. In the Keys, they did a considerable amount of well drilling that went hundreds of feet down, only to find no water. The railroad owner had some luxury hotels down in the Keys that also required water. To sell water to local residents, he used maps of water systems to the water tanks available.
The Florida East Coast and its Key West extension were facing bankruptcy as the depression spread. In January 1930, the road is enjoying enough tourist attraction and freight traffic to and from Cuba to keep red off the leger sheets. This HO scale recreation of the FEC was built for Cal Winter by Railserve’s Ross and Gail Allen.
The layout represents the line from Miami to Key West with a staging yard serving as Jacksonville. This means that 33 bridges and lots of water were needed to preserve the memory of the prototype’s engineering marvel. Wife of Allen Keller, Janet Keller is with Cal Winter in this video asking if he is happy with the work that Railserve has done. For Cal, it is everything he would have hoped for and more. It is a special layout to him. The tour begins in the upper deck at Key West. For more on model railroad backdrops or to see more in the Allen Keller: Great Model Railroads series, visit the Model Railroad Academy archives.