August 8, 2021 -- It's hard to imagine now, but one of the most legendary models on John Allen's original Gorre & Daphetid was a small Stegosaurus nicknamed "Emma."
She was purchased by Allen on a 1952 trip he made to Chicago and a stop he made at the city's natural history museum (Field Museum). An SRG Museum Toy, it was a typical souvenir of that era. Emma immediately became a favorite of the operating crews and John placed her on the official engine roster as #13. Made famous in countless magazine photos and articles, Emma made appearances around the layout in her duties on the GD Line.
Emma was badly burned in the fire that consumed the Gorre & Daphetid. She lost most of her head and fins and is approximately 90% of her original size. Emma is standing in a solidified puddle of the metal as she began to melt in the 1973 fire. Miraculously, you can see most of #13 still painted on her right side despite being charred and pockmarked.
In one of the most miraculous stories of my G&D resurrections, Emma is now home. She was found after many exhaustive searches tracked down friends and business acquaintances of John's in California. At that time it seems John knew everyone with any significant place in the hobby. The stories of his visits and encounters are vast. One such conversation led to several searches and phone calls -- and a rare stroke of luck played a role in my discovery of what I feel is the most iconic symbol of John's layout.
Sometime after the fire someone dug the original Emma out of the ashes and kept her semi-melted body safe after all these decades.
In the photo above Emma is near the ash pit of the West Divide Yard, patiently awaiting her home to be built along the hills of Daphetid. Next to her is her daughter Lil' M. An exact replica of Emma, Lil' M was a shared project from Kenichi Matsumoto from Japan. Before unearthing the original Emma, I sent Kenichi two of these SRG toys. He painted them both, saddled them with a correct Weston Driver figure and remade the harness. He signed mine and kept the identical one on his own fantastic layout.
Lil' M will do the work now as her mom is retired. As for the original Emma, the spirit of the original G&D will once again roam the landscape watching hard-working steam locomotives navigate model railroading's most famous layout.
This early black and white image of the original Gorre & Daphetid demonstrates John Allen's legendary sense of humor in full display. Here a group of workers do their best to lead Emma into the layout's equally legendary (and often copied) engine house.
It actually all make sense. Allen had painted the #13 on Emma's side, actually adding her to the G&D's locomotive roster.
Shot in October of 1960, this photo shows the bridge over Sowbelly Creek near Cross Junction. At the lower right stands Emma (#13), the ever present work Stegosaurus or “Work-Bronto”. Her friend to the left is doing some much needed landscaping near the G&D mainline.
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