What Might Have Been Is in HO Scale

A New York Central Alco FA locomotive leads a local freight on the Lorain, Ashland & Southern Railroad in Marty Surdyk's basement.

A New York Central Alco FA locomotive leads a local freight on the Lorain, Ashland & Southern Railroad in Marty Surdyk’s basement.

Few people still alive ever saw the Lorain, Ashland & Southern Railroad, which operated in the early 20th century between Lorain and Custaloga, Ohio, a junction with the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Fort Wayne Line in far southern Wayne County.

The LA&S was abandoned in 1925 and only a few traces of it remain today, many of which you need to know where to look to find.

Marty Surdyk has long had a fascination with the LA&S and last year he began to recreate it in the basement of his home.

The project began with Marty scrapped his model railroad layout that had been based on a New York Central branch line in far southern Ohio.

In doing this, Marty took a few liberties with historical fact. First, he assumed that the LA&S survived until the early 1960s. Second, he assumed that NYC controlled the LA&S and not that dastardly “P Company” along with the Erie Railroad.

But that’s the beauty of model railroading. You can create any universe that you want and pay attention to any historical facts that you choose.

I recently had a chance to watch Marty’s LA&S in action. We had spent a few hours sorting slides to be auctioned off at an upcoming Akron Railroad Club meeting.

At my request, Marty brought the railroad to life, running a short freight train led by an NYC Alco FA locomotive that he received as a Christmas present.

In real life it is unlikely that branch line road freights would have had an FA for their motive power, but this is a model railroad layout and you make your own operating rules.

The train repeatedly snaked around the layout, a pattern that would not be typical had Marty been having an operating session complete with train orders and customers to serve.

Like most layouts, Marty’s LA&S is a work in progress. You have to use a little imagination to visualize the LA&S because unlike the real thing Marty’s LA&S moves in curves and circles and not linear lines.

Aside from a few snapshots that I took in the early 1960s with a Kodak Brownie camera, I never photographed the New York Central. So, I couldn’t resist getting my camera out and capturing the LA&S Division of the Mighty Oval. It was kinda fun going back to the 1960s to photograph with a digital camera.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Of course there is a caboose on this train and of course its owned by the Central.

Of course there is a caboose on this train and of course its owned by the Central.

It was the weekend and switcher won't be going back on duty in the Lorain Yard until Monday morning. So I didn't get to see it in action.

It was the weekend and switcher won’t be going back on duty in the Lorain Yard until Monday morning. So I didn’t get to see it in action.

I can rember seeing Deep Rock tank cars such as these many years ago and Deep Rock service stations.

I can rember seeing Deep Rock tank cars such as these many years ago and Deep Rock service stations.

You really didn't think that Marty would create a model railroad layout without a grain elevator did you?

You really didn’t think that Marty would create a model railroad layout without a grain elevator did you?

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7 Responses to “What Might Have Been Is in HO Scale”

  1. John W Surdyk Says:

    Wow, It only took Marty 30 years to get the scenery

  2. Marty Surdyk Says:

    Actually it was only 29 1/2 years… but who’s counting

  3. John e. eles Says:

    Did not know you were an LA&S fan . I have a long interest in this RR. Am in Snyder’s book too. Good friend. You will have to see my LA&S material sometime. Regards, JEE. RR Entheusiasts.

  4. justin d. minnich Says:

    Marty

    My name is justin and I’m a HUGE fan of the RAMSEY. I’m in lorain and I’m in the early early stages of my HO scale LA&S .”the rattlesnake route”

    My era will be 1930-1935and In my world the B&O jointly owns it with NKP.. I hate the prr with all my heart..ha.. I would love to email back n forth talking about the THE RAMSEY

  5. John Thompson Says:

    My name is John Thompson of Elyria, Ohio. I have also had a long fascination with the L, A, & S, also helped in research for the publication of Mr. Bill Snyders publication ” The Rattlesnake and Ramsey”, history of the L A & S. There are lots of traces off the old railroad here in Lorain County, including some rail still in city streets, as well as a couple of old bridge abutments that supported a overpass over a New York Central, now Norfolk Southern, main line west of Elyria. Happy to know some one else interested in the old railroad. jtrails642649@!yahoo.com

  6. Bill Snyder Says:

    Happy to hear of continued interest in the old LA&S. It was a fascinating journey to research and write about the Rattlesnake and Ramsey line. My own model railroad covers the LA&S in the Ashland area after its official demise in 1925. The Pennsy has taken over the original tracks and the Erie operates its main line and shares traffic in town. The Custaloga area is now a large coal mine and the former gravel pit siding north of town is a large Erie shop area. Yes, some historical manipulation, but it is fun to imagine what may have happened if abandonment had not occurred in 1925. Best wishes to all who honor the memory of the R&R lines.

  7. Dale Parsons Says:

    I’ve been a model railroader for fifty-two years. Still love it as much as I did the first year. Thanks for the great photos, and you’re right, freelancing is a great way to go. Imagination fuels creativity.

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