“If you want something stuck in someone’s head, put it in a sequence of three.”
-Brian Clark-

Previously I had written about how I adapted Iain Rice’s Linked-Up Logger layout concept for the general design of The Hills Line. Since our basement arrangement requires any plan to be divided into three distinct spaces, I had chosen three distinct segments from the prototype to replicate on the model.

At the north end of the layout, we start with the Iowa River to Ralston Creek segment:


Then move south to the Maiden Lane to US Highway 6 portion:


Concluding with the longest wall reserved for the town of Hills, Iowa and the Stutsman Ag Products complex:


Three complete, succinct, and prototypically accurate slices of the real Hills Industrial Spur wrapped around the walls of our basement. It’s a visual adoption of the Rule of Threes, that ever so effective writing technique for creating engaging and memorable sequences.

Except there’s a fourth segment to the layout. The Crandic’s bridge over the Iowa River.


One half mile south of US Highway 6 in Iowa City, the Hills Industrial Spur crosses a motley set of bridges over the Iowa River. Looking at the prototype scene, the line traverses a pair of wooden trestles, a Warren Truss, and a Lattice Truss bridge. It’s almost as if a surveyor, while preparing their recommendations, wrote back “Need to cross river. Send over whatever you’ve got”.

The scene begged to be modeled.

So I still have three segments, but the middle portion is an amalgamation of two sections of the prototype Hills Line, hopefully grafted together in an aesthetically pleasing but visually appropriate manner.

But like many things on The Hills Line, it’s also a tribute to what was there before. The placement of the CIC Iowa River bridge matches where the Hickman Road overpass was located on my former IAIS Grimes Line layout.

hickman1 copy

The ballasted deck-girder bridge is THE signature scene on the Grimes Line, both prototype and model. It was also the one section of the layout that I made a concerted effort to save during the reconstruction of our basement.

Slamming the two separate sections into one slightly-compressed vignette on The Hills Line may turn out to be a visual contradiction, or even a design disaster. Ultimately I believe I can make the sight lines and spatial relationships between the two scenes work with a careful placement of scenic elements so that the two feel connected but distinct.

However, for me the Crandic’s bridge over the Iowa River is not just a portion of the prototype Hills Line. It’s also a reminder of the Grimes Line that was… and always will be.


3 thoughts on “Homage

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