July 24, 2021 -- When I started this journey, the notion of incorporating an actual piece of John Allen's long lost Gorre & Daphetid into our Great Divide Lines resurrection seemed preposterous. But thanks to a very generous gift from Steven Prevette of South Carolina, the new GD Line will carry a charred but unmistakable piece of model railroading history.
How did this come to be?
This miracle of history came via MRH magazine's Joe Fugate. During a visit to Steven's home layout, a discussion of John Allen's influence on the hobby resulted in Mr. Prevette fetching two lengths of the original roadbed from the Gorre & Daphetid layout! Knowing my nearly insatiable appetite for all things John Allen, Joe was kind enough to put the two of us together. As it turns out, Steve lived in Monterey, California in the 1970s and was friends with two young men whose family had purchased the fire-raved remains of John Allen's home at 9 Cielo Vista Terrace.
During this time these three guys all had an interest in the hobby and knew of John Allen's history. Like any young men with a shared interest like this would do, they rummaged through the piles of burned wood and scraps from John's lost railroad that had sat unattended for months after the devistating fire. While sorting through charred remains, Steve found two interesting pieces of the layout's original roadbed that seemed easy enough to carry and to keep without much difficulty. So, this piece, (shown in the photo above) and another adjoining one (with heavier burn damage) both spent the next 40 years safe during his family's moves and eventual relocation to South Carolina.
This amazing donation is from a corner with an approximate radius of 26 inches, and is comprised of a 3/4" plywood with very early style Homasote on top. The fibers that make this older style soundboard product have changed through the years, but this is early 1950's- style material. Amazingly, some of the ballast work and wood ties are still intact.
The historic roadbed will eventually carry some original rail from John's layout, and I will do my best to add other ties to this without disturbing or covering any of the original structure. But it will be used to carry model trains again.
After all, this is what John Allen created it to do.
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