Dennis and all
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Although definitely not a "walk around" layout you reminded me
of the Tech Model Railroad Club
at MIT - from their Wikipedia page:
"At the club itself, a semi-automatic control system based
on telephone relays was installed by
the mid-1950s. It was called the ARRC (Automatic Railroad
Running Computer). It could run a train
over the entire set of track, in both directions, without
manual intervention, throwing switches
and powering tracks ahead of the train."
The club is still active, although the layout was relocated sometime
in the last 20 years or so.
I think the Pasadena CA model railroad club layouts (more than one) have
used some form of progressive
cab control as well, which was still in use when I visited in 1993.
Probably DCC, nowadays. The layout
I saw was another of those "walk inside" designs.
Walk around layouts go back much further than that. I was a member
of the Garfield-Clarendon club in Chicago in the late sixties, and the
layout they had been building since 1963 was a large free-standing walk
around design. While the layout was free standing in a large room in the
Clarendon Park field house, it had a multi-lobed shape and the mainline
was designed to follow the fascia so a crewman could follow the train.
Mainline engineers sat at fixed "cabs" on an elevated platform
along one side of the room; power was routed to their train via what was
known as progressive cab control, which made use of telephone Co.
stepping relays to keep the engineer's throttle connected to the block
his train was in. While the engineer's location was fixed, tower
operators were located in the aisles near the track they controlled and
took care of both setting routes through X-overs and also could take
local control of the train to do lineside switching. The layout came down
in 1974 when the Chicago Park District decided to remodel the field
house, and the club's new layout, in different space, adopted some form
of walk around control, but the 1963 layout would have adapted nicely to
more modern control if it would have survived.
- NEB&W and the Midwest Railroad Modelers club in Batavia, started
in 1977, were a couple of the early walk-around shelf type layouts.
Even earlier, when I was a kid in the fifties, the house two doors down
had a rather large 00 (yes, American 00, 1:76) layout that the boys'
grandfather had built. The layout was a hi-bred; there was the typical
dense oval, but then the double track mainline took off along the
basement walls, eventually coming together into a four track mainline on
a shelf along the wall to a loop at the other end of the basement.
Control was the typical fixed location panel, however, but you could see
the entire run from the panel.