These photos represent the original layout during the period 2000-2004. The Lake Town and Shire was expanded to about four times its original size in 2005 and the towns along the route were relocated. Check the Track Plan page to see the new plan, and go to the links for the individual locations for pictures taken after the 2005 expansion.
Here's an overhead shot of the entire Lake Town & Shire in summer of 2002. Hobbiton is on the upper right in front of the bench. The lumber camp in Mirkwood Forest is at the lower right. The two sidings to the left of the pond represent Lake Town. A sawmill and a few other building appeared here by 2004. Inside the right side of the loop in the center of the layout can be seen a few buildings at Dale.
The Bilbo Baggins passes a small farm near the end of Long Lake in 2000. A small bait shop can be spotted across the lake, and Tunnel #1 and the truss bridge are visible in the upper right corner of the picture. Both the farm house and the bait shop were bird houses that have since crumbled into oblivion. After the expansion, this area became Lake Town.
Hobbiton mayor Sam Gamgee chats with Gimli the dwarf in 2001. Gimli is the fireman for LT&S #2. The Climax has been relettered since this photo. These figures were sculpted by son-in-law Chris Burdett who was a special effects make-up artist at Almost Human in Los Angeles, CA, at the time.
Hobbiton depot in early 2002. No. 3 pulls a string of empty log cars, No. 6 heads up a freight train of Hartford four-wheel box cars, and No. 5 is at the head of a passenger train. With the 2005 expansion of the railroad, this location became Dale and Hobbiton was moved to a new location.
Horace takes a breather after loading up No. 3.
A shelter was built for a small sawmill at Lake Town. This structure is patterned after a portable sawmill at Agrirama in Tifton, Georgia. It was later damaged by a falling tree limb and a new, larger sawmill was built near the new location of Dale in 2013.
A storage building was added at the entry to Lake Town yard in 2004. The middle track in the photo is the mainline, and the other two are spurs. During the 2005 expansion, the track at the top became a passing siding and the spur at the bottom was removed. Later all tracks in this area except the main line were abandoned and eventually taken up.
The waterfall near Lonely Mountain was a favorite spot for train-watchers on the original layout. No. 6 pulls a string of four-wheel box cars past the cascading water. Due to plumbing problems, the waterfall was abandoned when the pond representing Long Lake was rebuilt about 2010.
In October, 2002, the LT&S built an engine shed at Hobbiton. It is a scratch-built structure based on an engine house built in 1883 by the Carson & Colorado at Keeler, California (Railroad Model Craftsman, February 2001, pp. 61-65.) That structure was 50' long by 16' wide by about 20' high. The LT&S shed in 1:20.3 is a scale 50' long by 18' wide by 21' 8" high.
Shay #3 waits for a short passenger train pulled by #5, a Forney, to leave the depot. Then it will pull out for water and coal before picking up the caboose waiting on the freight track and heading off to pick up a string of loaded log cars at the lumber camp. This area became the location for Dale in the 2005 expansion when Hobbiton was moved to the new western end of the line. All the structures seen in this photo were moved to the new Hobbiton except for the engine house and the coaling station.
Sam Gamgee moved into Bag End, the former home of Frodo and Bilbo Baggins, in October, 2004. Resin castings for Bag End were created by our daughter Achsa Nute and her husband Chris Burdett. There is a small passenger station at Bagshot Row in front of Bag End. This part of the layout became Lonely Mountain in the 2005 expansion, and Bagshot Row moved with Hobbiton to a new location.
Hobbiton mayor Sam Gamgee was on hand to see the Barnhard log-loader in action a few days before Christmas, 2004.
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