Jim Hertzog's RDG Shamokin Division

About the Model Railroad

    The Shamokin Division of the Reading Railroad is a HO scale layout situated in my 30’ by 40’ basement. The period modeled is the steam to diesel transition era from 1952-1957. This enables me to run all of the remaining big steam locomotives, as well as all of the first generation diesels. The 300 foot double-tracked mainline replicates the Reading’s upstate anthracite coal region operations between the towns of Tamaqua and Shamokin, Pennsylvania. The point to point layout features visible east-end Reading/Philadelphia staging and west-end Newberry Junction staging. The trackplan also includes a two track hidden staging area that represents the connection with the Jersey Central (CNJ) at Haucks, PA.

     The Reading also regularly interchanges freight cars with the Lehigh and New England (LNE) at Tamaqua and with the Pennsylvania (PRR) at Shamokin, just like the prototype. My layout features the 3 primary yards found at Tamaqua, Gordon, and Shamokin, as well as the two coal marshalling yards at Saint Nicholas and Locust Summit. The three main yards are manned by yardmasters and yard drill crews, while the coal marshalling yards are worked by the designated road crews.

     Helper action, anthracite mining, and mountain grades are the main theme of the layout. Although helper engines work out of Tamaqua and Shamokin, it is the helper action out of Gordon that provides the most excitement, as trains are shoved west up the 2.6% Locust Summit grade. The grade which is 65’ in length is a favorite railfan spot, since it guarantees plenty of steam powered action. Currently the layout has 15 mines and coal loaders that contribute dozens of coal loads during an operating session. Some of the coal is raw coal using live loads and is moved in dedicated mine runs directly to the coal breakers. Plenty of actual anthracite coal is scattered around the layout to replicate the years of uncontrolled mining and waste piles.

     Operating sessions are held the first Saturday of each month and last approximately 4 hours. They typically require a group of 18 people with half being road crews. Trains are controlled using a Lenz DCC system with crews using radio headsets to communicate with the dispatcher. Currently 32 scheduled trains are run under control of a central dispatcher. Six are passenger trains, ten are mine runs, with the balance being symbol freights of varying priorities and road locals. Coal extra’s and an occasional detour train using CNJ power round out the schedule.

      Like several other layouts in my area, I use loco and car cards along with color- coded waybills developed by modeler Ray Fisher. Ray also worked up the various train order sheets and train schedules. Without Ray’s unselfish assistance, the layout would not perform nearly as well as it does.

Track Plan

Click on appropriate picture to see a track plan in either high or low resolution.  Note that while clearer, the high resolution version is 7.5 MB and will take a LONG time to download if you have a dial-up connection.  The low resolution version has been re-scaled to 1/2 of its original size.

Low Resolution

High Resolution


Era: 1952-1957
Scale: HO
Layout Style: Linear walkaround
Size: 30 by 40 feet
Benchwork: Open grid with risers Roadbed: Half inch plywood with glued cork or Homasote
Track: Atlas Code 100 staging, code 83 mainline
Turnouts: Mostly Atlas #6, some #4’s and #8’s. Some Walther’s code 83 curved turnouts
Minimum Radius: 30 inches
Control: Lenz plug in DCC