The most unusual feature on Norm Stenzel’s Brandywine and Benedictine model railroad would be Natural Tunnel. It has possibly never been modeled before. There a river bored a huge tunnel in limestone cracks on a mountain ridge. It was found in late 1800’s and not long after was used for a railroad. The locomotives and rolling stocks on Norm’s freelance layout have a cohesive appearance. The steam is all USRA prototype which makes it fairly generic.
He made sure that all the appliances created a family appearance. All have a red oxide roof on them, but there are two different lettering schemes that give the locomotives some history – being either pre-war or postwar. The diesels have same basic color schemes, although there are some inconsistencies. Norm has been able to make the locomotives strong enough to handle the grades on his mountain railroad. This is where the mechanic in him comes in. On a steam engine the secret is to make sure everything is quartered so there is the least amount of drag.
Norm didn’t really plan for anything on his layout, things just kind of happened. He saw inspiration in kits, and if things didn’t exactly fit, he cut it and made it fit. He would also rip up the track and move it if he suddenly wanted to add something. Norm operates the railroad every five weeks. His group call themselves the Joint Railway Association of Virginia. There are five operating layouts they run as a round robin, meaning the railroads are operated in a rotation. The full schedule on his layout is about 22 trains over a three hour period, and it keeps a crew of 10 busy all night.