Thoughts on the Gorre & Daphetid

SPsteam Mar 16, 2021

  1. SPsteam

    SPsteam TrainBoard Member

    I realize the medium is HO scale, but what are your thoughts on the layout. It stretched the limits of the hobby at the time but I believe it has been surpassed by many layouts after. It’s demise was a shame, it was well worth preserving and still remains one of the most storied models of all time.
  2. Shortround

    Shortround TrainBoard Member

    I do remember it and also wish it could have been saved. But, life keeps moving on.
    spyder62 likes this.
  3. Mr. Trainiac

    Mr. Trainiac TrainBoard Member

    I think the most amazing thing about the G&D is the Black Satchel. To be in possession of the contents would have been insane. I think there was an article in MR recently about the restoration of an 0-4-0 from the G&D. I thought a man in Japan did it, as the Satchel may have been owned by an MR employee(?) and they gave it to him to restore. Like the famous 'what would you do for a Klondike bar?', I ask myself, 'What would I do for a piece of rolling stock from the G&D?'

    I have the Gorre Roundhouse as my laptop wallpaper, so I see it every day. Being able to own a model from one of his famous shots would be the greatest thing.

    However, I don't think a reproduction/replica would do it justice in any scale. There is a certain magic about it that can't be reproduced. A replica would never be perfect, and the character would just seem false, like a fake painting. I have thought about what it would take to rebuild; I really appreciate the scratchbuilding and design work that goes into such a custom layout, and if I didn't already have a railroad to model, I would want to so something like John Allen. The ability to make something so amazing using the relatively crude models available at the time is a testament to his artistic abilities.

    I think I have said it before, but I dislike fantasy schemes, but the G&D was so much more than a fantasy railroad. It's hard to quantify, a bit like what makes Disney World magical. It's a mixture of nostalgia and a lot of other emotions I don't know how to describe.
    badlandnp, Kurt Moose, gcav17 and 2 others like this.
  4. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

    I've always liked the original G&D trackplan:

  5. gcav17

    gcav17 TrainBoard Member

    Well. I must say. I have only seen and learned of his work in books and photos. I kinda like to think he was the one that really drove the hobby to different levels. I enjoyed his play on photography alot. The way he used different scale figures and buildings to lend realism to his images . And all the corny little stuff he did. It must never have been a boring day on the G&D.
    I really liked the idea of walking into the room(s) totally surrounded by the layout. Trains up high and all around. Just cool.....
    The name of my railroad is a homage to his. I am not sure I will ever pull off a 1/4 of what he did with everything. But dangit it's fun!

    Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk
    Sumner, badlandnp and Hardcoaler like this.
  6. logging loco

    logging loco TrainBoard Supporter

    IIRC I read in an article John Allen had removed several support columns from the cellar and told visitors to walk around the perimeter of 1st floor rooms.

    Does anyone else recall this?
    Kurt Moose likes this.
  7. Keith

    Keith TrainBoard Supporter

    Recall reading about that, in a short series in Model Railroader,
    Called Looking Back with John Page. Eventually brought in the
    pros to add the necessary support to the floor.
    Without moving, or damaging the layout!
  8. badlandnp

    badlandnp TrainBoard Member

    Yes, John Allen. His modelling and photographic and storytelling skills set the "Gold Standard" I think. Using the technology of the time, he pushed the envelope so far beyond just toy trains that our hobby is still benefitting from his influence. From scratchbuilding, forced perspective, huge scenery, tricky cars and operations, his vision is still out there. It would be hard to quantify just how much the G&D influenced the hobby.

    I do know that it was one of the first layouts that I saw in an MR back in 70? At the library and it truly captured my imagination. Scenery to the floor! Wow! And the stories, the Sorefeetz brothers, the diesel salesman strung up, the switching stegosaurus and on and on. Fun!
    Doug Gosha, John Raid and Hardcoaler like this.
  9. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    I first caught on to John when RMC (1960's) did a series of articles following Carsten's official car touring the layout. Bought the Kalmbach book when it came out. Great stuff. His impact upon us all was incredible and stays solid to this day.
  10. Doug Gosha

    Doug Gosha TrainBoard Member

    I liked how he planted his whole yard in ground cover so he wouldn't have to waste time maintaining it. Sounds like a good idea to me. I hate yard work. I love train work.

  11. Doug Gosha

    Doug Gosha TrainBoard Member

    Yes and he kept that as part of all other later layouts, including his final version.

  12. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Very smart. Not only the time freed for other pursuits, but a LOT of money saved as well!
    Kurt Moose, Doug Gosha and Helitac like this.
  13. Helitac

    Helitac TrainBoard Member

    I like working in the garden, but xeriscaping and low maintenance plantings are much better than grass.
  14. JMaurer1

    JMaurer1 TrainBoard Member

    He set the standard that all others must follow. While the G&D may not be 'as good' as some of the layouts modeled today, you cannot compare it to layouts modeled today. That's like asking who the greatest boxer/sports team/band/etc of all time is. Comparing Babe Ruth to baseball players today...the game is different, the technology is better, almost everything has changed in some way, but Babe Ruth is still one of the greatest baseball players of all time especially compared to the players of his time. The G&D is one of the greatest layouts of all time since it redefined what could be done with making a layout look REAL. John Allen was YEARS ahead of everyone else with making everything looked USED. His scenery was done with dirt, cement, and whatever else he could find. There was no ground foam, tree kits, or even much in the way of plastic buildings. He scratch built or heavily modified everything he used (including his HO figures that populated his world). Every layout that came afterwards is following in the steps he first made. I built a N scale G7D boxcar that I run on my layout to honor what he did.

    That the G&D was lost is a tragedy, but that also made it immortal. Just like Jimmy Hendricks and James Dean, we only get to see what was left behind. They never got old and tired...never did endless tours playing their 'greatest hits' from 30 years ago at smaller and smaller venues or made bad movies just to stay working (Bill Murray, I'm looking towards you here). Our hobby is where it is today because of the genius, humor, and photo ability of John Allen and lives on because of that. Scenery, buildings, engines, rolling stock, operation, timetables, etc. were all heavily impacted by how John did them. No other layout has impacted our hobby more than John Allens G&D.

    The question should be: Is the G&D the greatest layout of all time? IMHO, if it isn't, it HAS to be one of the top 3 but personally I think it is. If you feel otherwise, then you need to spend more time researching it.
  15. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

    I'd like to jump in here and say I was an expert on the G&D. I'm not. I knew John Allen and visited his layout twice. He was an interesting guy. A bit of a jokster and prankster. There's some video's out there that illustrate this point.

    No question about it, his layout was top notch. It was a layout that grew and he designed it that way.

    The trick to his photography had to do with the time he took to set up a picture. If he needed to, he'd move stuff around to fill in the background. Most infamous picture is where he hung the diesel salesman. Poor guy never saw it coming.

    I lived with my parents in Seaside and he was over in Pacific Grove. I got to see his layout for the first time as a kid. I don't know but in this minds eye I wasn't overly impressed with the location. Sort of in an unfinished basement or so I thought at the time. It looked better the second time I saw it.

    Second time was after he had passed away. I borrowed my Dad's car to go to the memorial and was invited to stop by the layout.

    John Allen was and forever will be my inspiration.

    There are plenty of books out there and video's. Worth the purchase if you can ever find them.

    He's been missed.
    spyder62, JMaurer1, SP-Wolf and 6 others like this.
  16. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    That is not to say there are not some great layouts before or since John's. I am not taking a lot of time, but to be noteworthy, in my mind, the qualifications require being well circulated in print. When thinking of those which were much published, prior to the G&D in O was the work of noted Frank Ellison. Bill McClanahan's HO scale T&RGW. Quickly the V&O comes into mind.

    For it's continuing impact upon us all, (which I noted in my previous post, which such effect these days many are completely unaware), absolutely the G&D stands in front, atop the list.
  17. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

    Top of the list in my book.

    Why? He was ahead of many with the models he created and how he operated his layout.

    I know he wasn't alone. There aren't to many of us left that actually knew John Allen and visited his layout. One of those was a fella that worked at a Hobby Shop in San Dimas, Ca. He could talk about John Allen and his D&G as though it was his. Now, he's gone.

    So do the research, look for model railroad wig wags that carried articles featuring the D&G. John Allen's books. You won't regret the time you took to check it all out.
    JMaurer1, SP-Wolf, MK and 2 others like this.
  18. Rossford Yard

    Rossford Yard TrainBoard Member

    I always thought highly of it, have the book on it, went to see the leftovers in the San Diego RR museum, and when in Monterrey also took the time to go by the old house lot, which appeared to have been split by two neighbors.

    One of my most graphic MR memories was the time one of my modeling friends "dared" to opine that it had been surpassed by other, newer layouts. At first, didn't think that was possible, but his explanation made sense. Instead of fantasy floor to ceiling scenery, a modern layout would probably be double deck, instead of endless loops through the scene, the best modern layouts often run through each scene once, etc.

    After my initial shock, I conceded that we had made progress in layout design since his main ideas, as well as other things, KD couplers over Bakers, and so forth. More details rolling stock, etc.

    But, none of the modern stuff would have gotten better had he not elevated the whole hobby almost on his own.
    JMaurer1, MK, Doug Gosha and 2 others like this.
  19. logging loco

    logging loco TrainBoard Supporter

    That's it Keith!
    I loved that series.

    I remember a story John Page told about a fellow that built a layout on the floor. He powered the locomotive with a vaccum cleaner motor. The rails had 110vac going to them.
    Doug Gosha likes this.
  20. Martin Station

    Martin Station TrainBoard Member

    Wasn't John a photographer by trade? Also I remember reading about him being a jokester by someone who visted his layout once and upon taking a close look in a gondola noticed the crates were labeled IBM Typewriters.

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