Gorre and Daphetid a model railroad

Gorre and Daphetid

a model railroad


Model Railroader
 Welcome to Railroad Model Craftsman!

Under Construction July 1956
Under Construction July 1956




John Whitby Allen

gorre-04-340(July 2, 1913 – January 6, 1973) was an American model railroader who created the famous HO scale in Monterey, California and authored numerous magazine articles on the subject starting in the 1940s. Allen was renowned for his skill at scratch building and creating scenery, and he pioneered the technique of weathering his models to make them look old and more realistic. Besides his superdetailing of rolling stock, structures, and scenery, Allen also filled his model world with scale people who provided humorous vignettes on life. Other techniques Allen promoted were train operation and forced perspective–the use of smaller-than-scale items to make them look distant, and create the illusion of a larger layout.



allen147In 1946, John sold his business, invested the money, and decided to retire.

He would say that he got into model railroading just before the end of the war, and due to a limited supply of hobby materials, began building things from scratch. He spent a lot of time studying and observing railroads in operation, and how the prototype is put together. During this time John built models, then meticulously arranged and photographed them. In July 1946 the first of many photographs by John Allen appeared in Model Railroader.


Gorre and Daphetid

a model railroad

allen7He would move into a house in 1946 and begin construction of his railroad‘s first version. In 1953, he decided he needed more room and, decided to move. He offered a railroad for sale, with free house. When no one was interested in buying the house with the railroad, he dismantled it. The original 3.5 by 6.5-foot (2.0 m) G.D. was saved and incorporated into the final version, while other parts where given away to friends.

gdlogoJohn would move to his final house, chosen because it had an unfinished basement. He would dig out the basement, put concrete on the floor, and prepare it for construction of the final layout. He allocated about half the 1,200 square feet (110 m2) to the layout, the rest for a workshop and storage.


gorre_daphetidJohn would build a scale model of the house to aid in planning, in addition to models of the layout he planned to build. His planning was very thorough. Construction began in January 1954. One feature of the layout was Devil’s Gulch, a part of the basement not excavated, but shaped and then concrete was poured over it. John would construct the layout almost completely by himself. He would spend the next 20 years on that project.

imagepo1During this time John would revolutionize model railroading with realistic operations, lighting, including night lighting, and weathering of models. He would use forced perspective to enhance the illusion, and only allowed photography under his condtions.

John Allen would suffer a fatal heart attack on the evening of January 6, 1973. He previously suffered at least one heart attack during the 1960s. He wasn’t feeling well, yet worked at completing the Gorre and Daphetid. In a telephone conversation with Linn Westcott, he suggested that he would drive the last spike in the spring of 1973, and that Linn should come for a visit then. In 1972 he was already suggesting that things may not go well, and wondering “what to do with the railroad” in letters to a friend.


John Allen’s Gorre & Daphetid

John Allen’s Gorre and Daphetid Railroad – A Reminiscence

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About dummidumbwit

"I live in a trailer at the edge of town!" Neil Young=Revolution Blues
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5 Responses to Gorre and Daphetid a model railroad

  1. Please take notice that several of the pictures on this page are copyrighted by me and are used without permission.

    In addition, the “GD Line diamond” is trademarked by the National Model Railroad Association. Its use also requires permission.

    The John Allen photograph is xopyrighted by Kalmbach Publishing. Its use also requires permission.

    You may obtain permission to use my copyrighted material by requesting the same in writing to the above address. Details will be furnished by return mail.

    Your immediate attention to this matter is required.

  2. dummidumbwit says:

    I reworked the post, I removed what may have been Peter’s Picture and used smaller less detailed shots off the web, often bookseller’s icons. John Allen material is hard to find, I put links to 2 sites at the bottom (including Peter’s). I kept the John Allen picture as a “Public Figure” in the Media (and he was all over the Model Railroading media). And finally, I replaced the GD lines logo with a lesser quality logo from the GD lines Yahoo group. Thanks Peter for the heds up!

  3. Tina says:

    I like what you are doing here. Keep up the good work!


  4. Greg Warth says:

    Great article about one of the masters! Amazing creativity and artistry in 3 dimensions.

  5. Pingback: Model Railroads in the former East Bloc | Dummidumbwit's Weblog

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