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Frank Ellison’s Delta Lines 1944 series, “The Art of Model Railroading”

By | March 15, 2017

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Frank Ellison believed that the purpose of a model layout was to reproduce the operations of real railroads. That way model railroads could entertain individual builders or provide enjoyment for groups of hobbyists taking various roles in a working railroad system.

rank Ellison’s Delta Lines 1944 series, “The Art of Model Railroading”

16 thoughts on “Frank Ellison’s Delta Lines 1944 series, “The Art of Model Railroading”

  1. If there is a curriculum for model railroaders, then this is the seminal work. If you read this first, you will discover that you get so much more out of Armstrong, Koester, Rice, Darnaby, etc. Ellison paints a broad and exciting view of model railroading that puts everything written since in wonderful perspective.

    Perhaps there should be a curriculum for Model Railroading. Entering this hobby without reading Ellison, would be missing a great deal of the joy and excitement that it brings.

  2. I bought both Frank Ellison's paperback and Warren Morgan's hard cover Hi-Rail book when I was about 13. I still have them- I don't think anything better has been published since!

  3. I remember reading about this way back when. It's what turned me on to model railroading. It's got more than any vidio game can ever give you. Mind boggling entertinment. It's fun!

  4. As a young boy growing up in the 1930's and 1940's, I remember devouring Frank Ellison's articles in the Model Builder magazine and how thrilled I was when that magazine published "A Journey on the Delta Lines" complete with track plan. What an inspiration Frank Ellison was to a kid already hooked on model railroading!

  5. I first read the book "Frank Ellison on Model Railroads", published in 1954 by Fawcett Publications, back in the late 1950's. My copy has been pored over dozens of times over the years, and was my initial introduction to operating rather than just running trains – he made the railroad come alive. Another book from that era (may have been the same publisher, but I lent my copy years ago, never to be returned!) was by ? Morgan, and dealt with hi-rail (tinplate) trains, but again was a great introduction to the hobby. Have either of these ever been republished or reprinted?

  6. Great atricle by one of the foremost model railroading experts of our time. The Delta Lines was arguably one of the finest O gauge model railroads ever built. The realism of the RR was incredible.

  7. I too remember the Fawcett paperback book, and MR (and RMC) in 1954 on. Thus began a lifelong hobby that kept me sane (and safe) during my teen years, taught me electricity / wiring, electronics, soldering, geology, water surface tension, vegetation, construction and scenery, model building (wood then styrene from scratch – Lloyd Geibner, Jack Work, Al Armitage, and many others), mold making / plaster casting, art work, and of course rail roading, et al. Far more than the public's perception of "playing with trains".

  8. I remember the articles about "Delta Lines." They got me interested in modeling railroads. I've had 9 layouts since. That's only one of the greats. John Allen's is another.

  9. Seemingly, I remember an article in Model Railroader on the Delta Lines. The issue was November of 1953, I believe, Could have been 1955. I would love to have a copy of that issue once again if anyone has one, and would be willing to sell it. My address is 207 E. Magnolia St. Ellisville, MS 39437-3221. My phone is 601-477-2031. Like so many others, I knew every inch of that layout. In 1959, I lived in Baton Rouge and went down to New Orleans, and stopped in front of Frank Ellison's home, but couldn't get up the nerve to ring his doorbell. I've regretted that ever since.

  10. When I was a boy, I couldn't wait for the next Frank Ellison article and pictures of Delta Lines. It was his articles that moved from me Lionel under the Christmas tree to scale model railroading, albeit HO gauge.

  11. In regard to getting reprints of quite old out of print hobby books, first go to on-line services like Abebooks and see if you can get an original copy from a used bookstore.

    You'll be quite happy with how many of these old books are available and how low the prices often are.

  12. If you buy the MR CD rom you will have all of the issues you are speaking of. I gave 53+ years of MR away after I got mine — freed up a lot of shelf space and gives me good stuff to read on my computer.

    Bill Uffelman
    Retiring soon in Ocean View DE

  13. I think, if memory still works—-a young Gordy O–building a little train set –called the Tidewater Central–I loved it

  14. Someone mentioned the Model Railroader DVD. I bought the DVD and was extremely disappointed when Model Railroader went to a monthly charge to access the old issues rather than making DVD updates available. As a more than 50 year reader and long time subscriber I felt somewhat betrayed by Kalmbach – but business is business I guess and I hope they continue as a successful magazine. I now subscribe to the digital edition to solve storage issues.

  15. Thank you for doing this. The 1964 reprint was what hooked me on the hobby for life. I have the hardcopies of that (currently in storage). The 1976 reprint was, alas, condensed. But I have that, too.

  16. I found Frank’s book at the library and as others have said, it took me from Lionel to scale modeling. Frank’s modeling may not be up to todays’ standard, but his view of operation is still as revelant as ever imho.

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