|Mike Mowery, Sr.|
The first Public Viewing of a replicated model of Westby in 1910, constructed by Mike Mowery Sr., was on display at the Logan Mill Lodge, May 17, 2014.
Mowery, a history buff, moved to Westby area 21 years ago. He retired in December 2013, from Vernon Electric Cooperative after 20 years as a technician and recently completed the scale model railroad diorama depicting Westby from 1908-1910, when the population of the city was 902.
“I enjoy model railroad layouts and I am a history buff. After finding out that Westby had two separate railroad lines, it seemed to be the perfect project for me to undertake,” Mowery said.
Mowery spent eight years on the project, three years of research and five years constructing the scale model down to the very last detail. He researched the city through photographs and history provided by Westby Times historian Eric Leum.
According to Leum, the first railroad came to Westby in 1879. The Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul railroad started in Sparta, traveled through Leon, Melvina, Cashton, Westby ending its run in Viroqua.
The second railroad, the La Crosse and Southeastern railroad came to Westby in 1905. It traveled from La Crosse through Stoddard, Chaseburg, Coon Valley, Westby and ended in Viroqua.
In Mowery’s scale model, trains are parked by each companies railroad depot.
|Replicated model of Westby in 1910|
Leum added that the only place the two railroad track were in proximity to each other was on Trygve Thompson farm, two miles south of Westby. There the railway tracks were side by side for a short distance. He said each railway had their own set of tracks and to use each other's tracks they had to pay to a fee. The Rupp's building on Bekkadal and Polly Rude Way was the only structure in the city where access to both railroads was possible.
“The Southeastern was on the west side and the Milwaukee was on the east side of the building,” Leum said.
The scale model layout is 3 foot x 6 foot and stands approximately four feet tall. All buildings were scratch-built by Mowery, using many different types of styrene sheets, polystyrene and basswood.
The project was designed as an N-scale model (160:1), meaning that one actual foot, equals 160 feet of the layout scale. All the pieces are painted or stained, a task he completed all by himself.
“It has been a great hobby, but after eight years, it is very rewarding to have it completed,’ Mowery said.