Friday, February 27, 2015

E. L. Moore’s Legacy in the 21st Century: Bart Crosby and Fred Kelley

[The handwritten annotation on the back of this photo reads, Fred Kelley's layout - 600 feet of track -50 switches, etc. This is a photo of E. L. Moore's courthouse build whose photo appeared in the Feb '80 Model Railroader E. L. Moore tribute article; however, a full build article was never published. Photo courtesy of Paul Zimmerman.]

A little while ago I wrote two posts about the E. L. Moore collections of his longtime friends, Bart Crosby and Fred Kelley. After subsequent discussion and investigation with E. L. Moore researcher Paul Zimmerman, we concluded that some of the statements made in those posts were wrong. So, instead of updating the posts, they were deleted. Hopefully this post will set things straight :-)

In Jim Kelly’s tribute to E. L. Moore that appeared in the February 1980 issue of Model Railroader he mentioned that Bart Crosby and Fred Kelley had inherited many of Mr. Moore’s model buildings. A few weeks ago Paul Zimmerman contacted me to say that in the early 1990s he had exchanged letters with Mr. Crosby and Mr. Kelley, and they sent him a number of photos of E. L. Moore buildings that they had in their collections. The current thinking is that the colour photos in this post came from Bart Crosby, and the black-and-white ones shown later were from Fred Kelley.

Bart Crosby was for a time an assistant editor at Model Trains magazine, and published a number of articles in the model railroading press. He was a longtime friend and staunch advocate of E. L. Moore.

Mr. Crosby was associated with the The Black Diamond Society of Model Engineers in Pennsylvania. According to this Morning Call article from 16 May 1988, his was one of the model railroads on the layout tour associated with the Mid-Eastern Region National Model Railroad Association convention in Hanover, Pennsylvania in 1988. A gentleman who has been a member of the club for 50+ years informed me he recalled that Mr. Crosby's layout "... had a lot of Moore's models. Bart's layout was modest in size, with one side American and the other side German. It was divided by a mountain ridge." 

[New Castle and Frenchtown Railroad letterhead courtesy of Paul Zimmerman.]

Mr. Crosby described his layout, the New Castle and Frenchtown, in a newsletter he had typed up to give to visitors. Below are both pages of that document
[Page 1 of Bart Crosby's New Castle and Frenchtown newsletter describing his layout. He makes note that it includes 20 E. L. Moore built buildings. Scan courtesy of Paul Zimmerman.]
[Page 2 of Bart Crosby's New Castle and Frenchtown newsletter. Scan courtesy of Paul Zimmerman.]

According to Mr. Crosby’s description of his layout he had 20 E. L. Moore buildings on it. Take a look at the bandstand in the centre of this photo.

[The handwritten annotation on the back of this photo reads, Historical Park & Bldgs by E.L.M. on Fred Kelley's layout. E. L. Moore notes in his article, Crosby's Bandstand, that appeared in the Nov '72 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman, that he had made 4 bandstand models, and Bart Crosby's was his first. The one in the centre of this photo apparently was made for Fred Kelley. Photo courtesy of Paul Zimmerman]

Mr. Crosby refers to the bandstand as E. L. Moore’s “masterpiece”, and notes that "the delicate spindles were turned on a dremel tool mounted in a bench vise!". The full story about the bandstand's construction can be found in E. L. Moore's Crosby's Bandstand that appeared in the Nov. '72 Railroad Model Craftsman. Just to the right of the bandstand in the above photo is what looks like the blacksmith's barn that appeared in the June '64 issue of Model Railroader and was later turned into a plastic kit.

[The handwritten annotation on the back of this photo reads, Full view of the N. Conway station by E.L.M. The North Conway Station is labeled 'E', and appears way at the back of the picture. This is also likely a scene n Fred Kelley's layout. Photo courtesy of Paul Zimmerman]

I was pleasantly surprised to see in the above photo three of my favourite E. L. Moore projects that I tried to build way back in the '70s were right there all lined up in a row. Given that the E. L. Moore tribute article in the Feb '80 Model Railroader noted that the North Conway Station, the Courthouse, Bunn's Feed and Seed, and Jones' Chemical Co. were owned by Fred Kelley, I infer the above photo is of Mr. Kelley's model railroad. I’ve added the letters to the photo, and made an attempt to identify some of the buildings with the considerable help of Paul Zimmerman,

A. Bunn's Feed and Seed Plant, Model Railroader, August 1973.
B. Novelty Factory, Railroad Model Craftsman, July 1970.
C. The RMC Paper Company, Railroad Model Craftsman, April 1974.
D. Jones' Chemical Co., Model Railroader, March 1974.
E. North Conway Station, Model Railroader, February 1980.
F. Courthouse, Model Railroader, February 1980.
G. E. L. Moore's Village Store, Model Railroader, January 1978.
H. Three Storefronts and a Shop, Railroad Model Craftsman, December 1969.
J. The Button Works, Model Railroader, September 1979.
K. Stuckem Glue Works, Model Railroader, October 1977.
L. Home for Small Locos, Railroad Modeler, March 1973.

[The handwritten annotation on the back of this photo reads, In this corner is a compressed model of the station N. Conway N.H. built in 1903.This is the opposite view of the photo annotated with letters. Photo courtesy of Paul Zimmerman]
The buildings in Mr. Kelley's layout appear to have been spread around the track a little haphazardly, but I suspect it was a temporary arrangement while the layout was under construction. One thing about these pictures that jumped out at me was that there doesn’t appear to be anything special about the buildings, their arrangement or that section of the layout if one wasn’t versed in E. L. Moore's projects. 
[This is a snippet of E. L. Moore's selectively compressed Conway Station. The Dec '88 issue of Model Railroader had a 'railroad you can model' feature on the Boston & Maine's Conway Branch, a detailed set of drawings of the Conway Station by Harold Russell, and a construction article on how to build the station in HO - and in styrene - by George Drury (no mention is made of E. L. Moore photo from back in the Feb. 1980 issue), and a photo of the station model is on the cover. It's one of those old 200+ page issues from long, long ago.]

I’m used to seeing these builds via their published glamour shots, or my own builds staged on my layout. A lot of the charm is lost when they’re clustered on a relatively barren section of a layout. This speaks to the power of E. L. Moore’s ability to build a narrative and stage photos of his projects. That skill was nearly as important as the projects themselves in terms of making them attractive.

[The Elizabethton station on the Elizabeth Valley Railroad; photo by E. L. Moore; posted courtesy of Paul Zimmerman]

Of the black-and-white photos, the one shown above is similar to the one that appeared in the photo spread called the Elizabeth Valley RR that appeared in the March 1955 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman and introduced E. L. Moore's model railroad to the public. The back of the photo didn't have annotation, but it did have this stamp,
This next photo is also of E. L. Moore's Elizabeth Valley Railroad, but with a couple of its buildings in different locations. This photo may not have seen publication before.
[A photo from across the lake, looking toward the main bridge on the Elizabeth Valley Railroad. This photo was also stamped on the back with the EVRR logophoto by E. L. Moore; posted courtesy of Paul Zimmerman]

I should note that from other research it's clear that the Elizabeth Valley Railroad is named after Mr. Moore's daughter. And lastly, this third photo shown above may have been staged on the Elizabeth Valley Railroad
[A photo of the Village Grist Mill that appeared in the April 1967 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman; There was a handwritten annotation on the back of this one: R.M.C. 4/67 Grist Mill ELM; photo by E. L. Moore; posted courtesy of Paul Zimmerman.]

Paul Zimmerman contacted me several weeks ago and generously forwarded many scans of E. L. Moore related materials. I hope to feature more in future posts of the Legacy series
[Paul used half of E. L. Moore's Bunn's Feed and Seed Plant to built his N-scale Messina's Mill. Photo shot by Jack Roe and posted courtesy of Paul Zimmerman.]

As well, Paul has built many high-quality models of E. L. Moore's published projects in N-scale, and a 2 by 3 foot rendition of Mr. Moore's Elizabeth Valley Railroad. A Facebook video of some scenes from the layout can be found here.


  1. Yet more fascinating stuff and first class research. I wonder if there is mileage in a magazine series here, or are we who love studying the doyens of the hobby too few in number? It certainly seems to me that the more you find, the more interesting it all becomes. Thanks so much for this series.

    1. I've been enjoying writing this and I'm glad that you and other readers are finding it interesting. Debra has applied her expert sleuthing skills to this project, and without her work much would still be hidden. We've met many interesting people along the way who are helping out, not too mention old friends too! There's still a lot more material to be posted - I suspect it'll be near the end of this year before it's finished. I'll have to see if there is any interest from the world of print. I suspect the number of people with an interest is small for a magazine, but from blog stats, there seem to be many people across the world with some interest.