The Mississippi Level
The second level represents the mainline run between the fictional town of Wharton, Mississippi and Slidell, Louisiana. The Gulf Mobile & Ohio and Southern have shared trackage rights with the Mississippi Alabama & Gulf on this level, although only MA&G passenger trains make station stops. Wharton is the largest town on the second level and is presumably the county seat with its courthouse and town square. The structures in this town are primarily made from Design Preservation and American Model Builders kits. Leaving town, the mainline crosses the Wolf River over a Central Valley truss bridge. It parallels the State Highway 53 bridge which is a kitbash of an Atlas Pony Truss bridge and several Rix highway overpass kits. The Hines Lumber Company represents the timber industry that dominated this area of the state. The mainline crosses the log pond on a low pile trestle, then passes the sawmill, lumber yard, planning mills and engine house. These backwoods structures are a mix of modified kits from B.T.S., Keystone, and Walthers. An isolated track controlled by a Circuitron AR-2 auto reversing timer allows a Bachmann Shay and string of Rivarossi log cars to shuttle from the mill to a hidden track independent of the mainline. The small town of Kiln, MS is represented by a small church and local farm before crossing the Jourdan River over a kitbash of two Walthers double track truss bridges with Central Valley deck girder bridge approaches. The other major Mississippi town is Edna which boasts four Fine Scale Miniature models. Other kits are representative of such manufacturers as Campbell, Bar Mills, Branchline, and American Model Builders. The largest industry (and one of my favorites) is the Graves Pulp Mill which was built from an impressive Master Creations kit. The railroad leaves Mississippi and crosses the Pearl River over a Walthers swing bridge. From there it enters Slidell, LA which is represented by two small businesses. The mainline continues through the helix up to the third level. This “dead” area represents the miles of un-modeled swamp land and Lake Pontchartrain. It also softens the otherwise abrupt transition between rural Slidell and urban New Orleans.