Manawa man builds detailed layouts
By Jane Myhra
Ed Murrow’s childhood hobby has become his passion.
“It is a lot of fun,” he said. “It is the best thing I have ever done.”
Uncle Elmer purchased a Lionel train set for his nephews when Murrow was 10. Murrow recalled that his grandfather set up the O gauge train set.
“We had a lot of fun with it,” he said. “We played with it constantly.”
His mother sold the set after her boys grew up.
Shortly after he married his wife, Sue, in 1974, Murrow received an HO train set in a gift exchange. This train gauge is 1-to-87 scale and is considered half the size of the O gauge.
Murrow found that he enjoyed working with the train set, so he joined the Waupaca Area Model Railroaders. The group meets every Thursday night at a member’s house.
“We either work on their train layouts or we run their trains,” Murrow said. “Building is nice, but the cool part is the operating sessions.”
During the operating sessions, 10 to 16 members form groups of two – an engineer and a conductor. Each group takes a train out of the yard and completes an operating order by traveling to a designated city and switching train cars to complete their load.
“Everything changes except the engine and the caboose,” Murrow said. “It can take over two hours, depending on the size of the train and the order.”
The club members also attend about seven shows a year where they display the club’s 20-by-50 layout. Murrow describes the club’s layout as “very detailed” and said it has won numerous awards.
Murrow’s top reasons for attending train shows is to get out and run the trains, meet other train enthusiasts, and find good train buys. He purchases most of his rail cars new, but he has found some used bargains.
Now Murrow’s entire basement is filled with trains at his home in Manawa.
The layout, which includes about 600 feet of track, is called “The Silver Spike.” It has three levels and a helix, which allows the trains to travel to the different areas.
“The helix is not something you would see on a real railroad,” Murrow said. “It gives me three levels of track with different sceneries, different towns.”
All of his buildings and landscapes are handmade, and include lights, interchanges, tunnels and crossovers.
“My layout got away from me a little bit and it’s still getting away,” Murrow said.
His track layout features all Wisconsin rail lines such as Green Bay & Western, Soo Line, Wisconsin Central, Canadian National (CN) and Wisconsin & Southern.
The cities on his layout are places his family lives: Symco, Manawa, Waupaca, Scandinavia, Little Chute, Appleton and Ootsburg.
The buildings are named after family members and each have a special meaning, such as David’s Machine Shop, Julia’s Dance Studio, Melissa’s Shoe Emporium, Kevin’s Sand & Gravel, Cole Mine and Nathan’s Lamborghini Sales.
The layout also includes “The Ed Murrow Bridge,” which his co-workers welded for him when he retired after 49 years at Four-Wheel Drive Seagrave, in Clintonville.
According to Murrow, fellow club member Eugene Much, of Manawa, has had the most influence on him.
“He is a modeler from way back,” he said. “Eugene has helped me more than anyone. He took me to a train meeting and everything went forward from there.”