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Basement Switchmaster

Model Train Layout from 1929

The first comment to this photo from the Shorpy Historic Photo Archive:

I can only wonder what Mr.Swartzell would have thought if he was told his model railroad would be admired by thousands of people all over the world in the next century.

Yes, indeed.

As is often the case with Shorpy photos, the subject is not the only interesting element in the photo.

I love the dogs barking at the wagon team at the bottom of the shot. God lives in detail like that.

These men are wearing ties to run their model railroad. The current President has trouble putting on a tie to run the United States government.

The duct along the top edge of the frame is sized for a gravity furnace, probably coal-fired just like the locomotives of the day. And the joint tape on it is most likely made durable by asbestos fibers. In today’s world, this would be a hazmat scene.

We wouldn’t want to live in the crude and dirty times of Mr. Swartzell (1929). But would he want to live in our era?

When would he have time to run his railroad?