|Having grown up near Lake Erie, I was always fascinated by the car ferries, ore boats, Hulett ore unloaders, and coal dumping machines at Ashtabula (Ohio) Harbor. |
I also liked to watch the heavy Pennsylvania Railroad ore trains, with five
steam engines, slugging their way up hill to Carson Yard, where they were made up into trains headed for Youngstown and the steel mills.
My childhood ended in 1941 when I graduated from high school and enrolled at Ohio University. Then came Pearl Harbor and the Army. I was sent to the University of Idaho and Washington State where I studied engineering in the ASTP program. In 1944, as I was being shipped to Europe with the 11th Armored Division, I called my fiancée, Eleanor, to meet me in New York City, where we were married. I fought through the Battle of the Bulge in Germany and Austria and was being prepared for shipping to the Pacific when the war ended. I was discharged in December 1945.
As we raised our family of three children, two boys and one girl, I worked as a rural mail carrier. I played the saxophone in area bands, and later continued my education at Kent State University, planning on a teaching career. However, the U. S. Post Office then offered an early retirement, so I took that and became a gentleman of leisure.
Needing a hobby, I returned to my childhood interest — trains and shipping. Around 1970 I began model railroading. I belong to a loose-knit club of about 12 regulars who meet every Tuesday to run trains at each other’s layouts. To keep our wives happy, we also formed a “Dining Car Club,” for which we took the wives to dinner once a month. (As we’ve aged, we have not been as regular about dining out as we were.) We also have home parties such as picnics in the summer and a Christmas party in December.
I have given clinics about Hulett ore machines and modeling at conventions and local division events and the Industrial SIG group. My layout is based on the Lake Erie to the Ohio River New York Central System. I have four Huletts, an ore bridge, three operating coal dumpers, and five ships, including a seven-foot scratch-built model of the Edmund Fitzgerald. There are also an operating coal mine, an oil well, blast furnaces, and a steel industry, as well as the usual towns and businesses to be found in real life. I use scratch-building methods, which I prefer to kits.
My railroad has been open to tours for many years, and we have had probably a thousand visitors. Anyone wishing to see it may call me at (440) 998-5176, to set up a time.
Lawson has earned Achievement Certificates for
|Model Railroad Engineer–Civil|
|Model Railroad Engineer–Electrical|
|Model Railroad Author|