The Ashley, Dean and Deanstown Railroad 1906 by Cliff South and Mike Hughes

1865, The Civil War was over. The smoke from the cannons has drifted into history.

The Ashley Danville & Deanstown RailroadThe South began to pick up the pieces. Still smarting in defeat one thing that it was reluctant to do was to have any truck with the railroads. Many towns even paid the railroad companies to go round them. This mistake usually cost them dear and they just faded away with out contact with rest of the world. Eventually realizing their mistake many towns corrected this and the South became criss-crossed by a great many short line railroads. Some were perhaps only five miles long; others reached a hundred or so. Names like Sylvania Central, the Dardanelle & Russellville.

The Ashley Danville & Deanstown was one more. The town elders, by 1875 ten years on, could see the winds of change sweeping the Southern States and, not wishing to see their town go the way of many others, raised the capital to build a line some eighty miles long to connect two of the big railroads now crossing the land. Lines like the Southern and Central of Georgia. Ashley was the connection on one end and Deanstown the other. Danville, (after General Danville Leadbetter) is near enough in the middle. Being a bridge road it very soon grew to be of some importance not only to its own communities but others elsewhere and a fair amount of traffic was thus generated to pass over rails of the Ashley Danville and Deanstown. It also connected with other short lines.

Now thirty more years have passed and the A. D. and D. has lived long and prospered greatly by 1906. The roads are still country dirt roads. Automobiles are creeping in, grass is beginning to grow between the ties but steam transport still reigns supreme. In the way of freight, Simon Pushkinskys’ factory still turns out fine old fashioned hand made furniture and is still being shipped on the A D and D. Pumpkins and all types of farm produce leave in cars of all roads. In quiet moments it is still possible to cross the street from the Danville Depot and sip cokes among the grain seed and cultivator blades in Pete and Joe’s General Store. Passenger traffic is not inconsiderable, many roads use the A.D. &. D. to shorten their route to the coast via the main lines, and a connection with the Georgia Gulf. Now and again, and along with ordinary passenger cars, the odd Pullman passes thru. Inbound comes the usual freight and mail services to keep a small town growing into the twentieth century.

The Ashley Danville & Deanstown RailroadThis is the fictional ‘history’ of the Ashley, Danville and Deanstown Railroad. The model has been constructed by Bognor Regis based NMRA, and South Shore, member Cliff South, the name being derived from the names of Cliff’s three great-nephews.

The baseboard uses 9mm plywood over a 3″x 1″ softwood base. The main tracks are Peco code 83 with the fiddle yards at each end a combination of code 83 and code 100 track. Point control is by wire in tube, attached to slide switches which change the polarity on the Electrofrog points.

Cliff has a great attention to artistic detail and from the start decided that the layout would have items which would attract the interest of all spectators, not just enthusiasts. In no particular order, these include cats on the roof, a man playing a banjo, a waterfall, a fisherman, men hauling cooled beer out of the river, Gandy dancers laying track, dogs and much more. In fact there is so much detail that to record it would take up a large amount of space in this article.

Cliff loves his working ‘gizmos’ – his home based Virginia and Truckee layout has a forest fire, a gunfight, a lynch mob hanging an outlaw, a working crane and lots more. The AD&D is no different, the train order boards work, smoke comes out of the factory chimney, the water column raises and lowers to fill loco tenders, and the harp switch stands also move to indicate the position of the switches.

Electrical connections are traditional DC, with section switches for isolation purposes, although the whole thing can be converted to DCC simply by changing power DIN connectors – Cliff has two made up, one for DC and the other for DCC.

The Ashley Danville & Deanstown RailroadAlthough it had been exhibited at Firle, East Sussex, beforehand, the first ‘proper’ showing of the layout was at Seabord Southern’s exhibition on 20th September 2008. It appears to have been a hit with the majority of visitors. One thing that does attract attention is the ‘can you find’ list, suggested by Mike Hughes, of 10 items to find on the layout. This kept interest in the layout even when there was nothing moving as we discovered when 15 minutes was spent trying to find the ‘fault’ after someone accidentally switched off the main switch on the layout! It was quite interesting to see people of all ages trying to find the listed items, many missing the ‘obvious’ and we also discovered that many ‘enthusiasts’ don’t really know what Gandy dancers are!

The AD&D has appeared at various shows including Seaboard Southern, Sompting, Wittering and Firle in 2009 and is proving to be a hit on the exhibition circuit.