We Didn’t Start the Fire …

An example of my outdoor model train layout projects

Well, actually, I kinda did. As many of you know, I am into outdoor garden model railroading and model building. My layout is loosely (and it gets more loose as time goes on) based on my adopted hometown of Martinez, California around the turn of the 20th century. Not much progress has been made in the last couple of years due to my vision issues but the plans are to build 1:24 scale replicas of such structures as the John Muir compound, the 1901 county courthouse, the train station, and a whole host of other local Martinez landmarks.

I belong to an online group called Large Scale Central and every year for the last decade or so, LSC has sponsored Miks Challenge, a friendly competition to get members to get out into their workshops during the cold winter months and make something for their layout. Two years ago, the challenge was to build something with a 2×4 and no more than $30 in supplies (plus whatever you already had on hand). I took third place that year with my replica of a livery stable that had burned down during a major fire that ravaged downtown Martinez in 1904. To cap off the project, I burned the replica down. The intent was to include the charred remains in the layout but before I could begin the process of preserving the remains, the retina in my right eye detached and with me layed up and not paying attention, the gardeners came and threw it away. The Gallery has photographs and a video of the fire to give you an idea of the complexity of the project.

Anyway, given my interest in the Craftsman style of architecture so prevalent in the early 20th century, this year I wanted to build something that goes along with that movement. Luckily, the challenge is to build something with a chimney, and I will be building my version of a farmhouse that appeared in the June, 1906 edition of The Craftsman.

Will there be another fire this year? I very strongly doubt it but you never can tell when an earthquake might hit, and we all know what happened just a few months after The Craftsman article was published.


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January 5, 2021 12:43 am

[…] — Bennett’s Livery & Stables, where I took third place — is chronicled here and here. This year’s Mik’s Challenge features a formidable bunch of napkin builders. […]