Morest Forest

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I’ve been working at the west end of the Lynn Valley – adding more trees and adding canopy to some bare tree armatures that have been in place for a while. In all, I’ve finished more than a dozen new trees for this area. It’s making a big difference.

New additions include some smaller trees on a peninsula between the track and river, just west of the trestle:
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The area around the Lynn Valley Tank has filled in nicely…
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… although I still want to add more trees between track and fascia. (Not too many, though – I still want to be able to enjoy the water tank!)

The scene around the steel girder bridge is also filling in nicely…
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… although more trees are needed in the foreground here, too.

Finally, I’ve started adding trees to the transition area between the west end of the Lynn Valley and the east end of Port Rowan:
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With the additional trees, I feel the views are richer and reward more careful observation. There are scenes to “discover” in the Lynn Valley now…
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As noted, I need more trees – particularly in the foreground. I’ll add those as fast as I can twist armatures, add bark texture and create canopies.

16 thoughts on “Morest Forest

  1. Hardwood forest are very interesting, especially to those of us from “flyover” country where the evergreens are surpreme. Looks good

    • Looks great!! I’m building a 2’x18′ “S” scale switching layout. Will all the trees be a problem when it comes to track maintenance?
      Thanks, Chris

      • Hi Chris:
        Thanks for the kind words. I tested this track thoroughly over a two year period before adding the trees. I also spiked the rails here (as elsewhere) every 2nd or 3rd tie. I double checked the gaps between rails to allow for expansion/contraction. And I added two feeders to every length of rail.
        One reason I did this is to – I hope – ensure I never need to mess with this track. It’s single track – no turnouts – so it shouldn’t cause problems. If it does, I’ll have to tear out trees, I suppose. But it’s the armatures that take the time – and I could save and replant those. The canopy is quick and easy to apply.
        Good question – thanks for asking it…

    • Hi Mike:
      Good question – thanks for asking.
      As my recent blog posts suggest, this area has developed rather quickly. It’s gone from a very spare scene dominated by grass to a forest. I’ve had very few operating sessions over the past couple of weeks – not even solo sessions, as my time has been dedicated to building and planting trees. So it’ll probably take a few more sessions with regular operators to form some insights.
      That said, I planned from the beginning that this area would be forest. I felt it would offer me a different modelling challenge than the open areas of Port Rowan and St Williams. And when operating, I’ve always envisioned this area to be full of trees. Therefore, my perception of the area hadn’t undergone much by way of adjustment.
      I hope some of my other regular operators – like Chris Abbott and Hunter Hughson – will wade in on this after they’ve had a few chances to run trains through the woods. I’m interested in their thoughts on this too now that you’ve raised the question, so I’ll be sure to ask.

    • Mike, the new forest makes a huge difference. It’s tough to translate it into words, but I’ll give you the gist of it.

      When I most recently operated on the layout, I felt that there were three distinct locales emerging on the layout – Port Rowan, Lynn Valley, and St. Williams. One very important factor contributing to the realism of the layout is that the entire train is within a single locale while work is being done there. For instance, work at St. Williams involves stopping for waybills and spotting cars on the team track accordingly. The locomotive and train never move into the next scenic space do any of that work. The same is true for the Lynn Valley and Port Rowan locales.

      Each locale is comprised of a number of intimate scenes. The Lynn Valley, where Trevor has most recently planted trees, serves to break up the flat farmland/flatland scenes of St. Williams and Port Rowan. The locale is comprised of a number of engaging and well-planned vignettes. The branch line operating speed affords the crew some time to enjoy the subtle variety. None of this feels forced or rushed because the landforms, river bed, and forest canopy are comprised of natural and familiar lines, colours and textures. The visual effect of all of this is amplified by the soundscape, featuring cicadas and a range of bird species.

      Trevor was still in the process of building and planting trees, but it was clear to me that the Lynn Valley is in the process of being transformed from a transitional space between two locales to a locale with its very own strong sense of place.


    • Hello Mike,

      Port Rowan’s trees, which most properly dwarf the trains, provide an analogue of urban canyons with its silent looming structures – but in bright green & gold instead of drab brick, grimy cinder block, and rust splotched corrugated iron. The semi-transparency of the delicate foliage allows the simulated sunlight to vividly dapple the equipment as it rolls through a lush countryside strongly reminiscent of the rural setting of my boyhood home.

      The effort of accurately capturing the lackadaisical droop of the willow and stark white of the birch trunk (amongst a myriad of other details) instead of the vague and unsatisfying caricature presented by popsicle sticks and garishly dyed reindeer food is a welcome visual treat offering rich texture and depth not present on the vast majority of layouts in this or any other age.

      Currently, the actors enter the stage through an evergreen curtain to trundle along the edge of a hinted-at vast field of tobacco (a crop prominent at my childhood locale), cross the distinct separation provided by a wide public road, and stop under an almost ethereal canopy providing shade to the St. Williams station platform. The arrival of the train greatly entertains wide-eyed children peeking from their impregnable treehouse nestled in the boughs above a tidy row of neighbouring homes.

      Returning once more into the full light of day, the equipment arrives at the St. William’s siding – parenthesised as it is by the grove encompassing the station and the bold edge of the Lynn Valley’s forest. Shunting activity is greatly eased by depicting only gently rolling terrain and a low stand of corn between operator and track.

      Continuing on towards the Lynn Valley, the train plunges headlong into a shadowed tunnel of leaf laden, arched limbs to quietly disappear behind a stand of massive trunks, affording only tantalising glimpses of our lead player as it rounds the broad curve therein. Bursting back into the light only moments later, it coasts over the low trestle spanning the tranquil river.

      Our protagonist drifts along as it approaches the water tank, largely ensconced by a towering backdrop of primeval forest stretching off towards a dark and foreboding distant sky. More winding water under the girders of a characteristic bridge leads the eye to a herd of cattle obtaining refreshment from the flow and respite from the harsh sunlight in the cool shade of the trees edging the river banks.

      Itself replenished, the train surges forward once more, thumping mightily over the aforementioned bridge deck, exiting yet again into the stark brightness of the summer’s day. Wending its way through a reverse curve, it approaches the organised splendour of an orchard of apple trees which, in appropriate contrast to the wilds of the virgin forest and in consideration of the manual gathering operations of the time, is pruned to permit harvest via step ladders and a ubiquitous pickup truck.

      Once through the orchard, wide expanses of low grasses (studded liberally with wildflowers and hiding an array of local fauna) offer excellent and unimpeded access to the (relatively) extensive trackage of the Port Rowan terminus and its associated rural industries.

      While it remains for more trees to be added to this end of the layout, careful placement will retain access to all necessary points of uncoupling while likely creating yet another scenic break between the team & coal track areas, and the station & Co-Op zones proper.

      The addition of the trees to date has already created, to my mind, 7 visually distinct zones on the layout. If the terminal peninsula were to be visually split, (as suggested above) there would then be 8 such zones. Quite an achievement considering the small footprint of the benchwork, all without resorting to the threadbare artifice of diving through backdrops or making mountains out of molehills.

  2. Great looking forest, Trevor. Are you using one specific brand of ground cover/scenery materials, or a mix?

    And, can these tree making methods be used in HO scale as well?

    • Hi Michael:
      Thanks. I’ve used a variety of materials – a mix of commercial and natural. There are too many to list here but you’ll find them mentioned throughout the blog. Try using the categories menu to narrow your search.
      I haven’t used these techniques for HO but I don’t think they would pose any problems.

  3. Tevor since you are so go at aking tree how bout if I just have you make a thousand pine trees and three hundred hard wood trees for my little HO railroad? [Grin] Well it is the state of Maine and known as the Pine Tree State [Grin.

    As you should realize I do very much like the way your forest is developing.. First the trees are more varied than I see on so many model railroads and actually big enough to look like thy have been around a few decades and no just planted. Also there are enough of them to feel like a forest.

  4. Trevor,

    I think the trees are making a big difference in that spot of your layout. I have always liked the look of trains running through trees on a layout. Good job.

    Mike S.

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