The Blissfield Model Railroad Club (BMRC) is a group of model railroaders from all over the southeast Michigan and Northwest Ohio area. Together, the club is actively working on building and operating a large HO scale model based on many historic railroads, including all of Clinchfield Railroad’s tracks in Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, and Tennessee.
Representing over 20 of America’s historic railroad cities and towns, each
piece of the model contains unique, detailed scenery and serves as a one-of-a-kind depiction of what this once-major form of transport looked like in the 1950s and 60s. When COVID-19 made it so that the club could no longer welcome visitors, they rolled up their sleeves and got to work, bringing the railroad to its fans.
To find out more about the process behind capturing all 2,500 sq. ft. of detailed scenery and rails, we spoke to Mark Deseck at BMRC.
What inspired the 3D capture of this space?
The inspiration was based on the desire to provide anyone in the world an opportunity to virtually experience a large and detailed model railroad, especially if they live too far away to afford a visit in person. Our Matterport digital twin was also created during the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak, which allowed us to provide an avenue for people to explore our highly detailed layout without risk of exposure.
What are the “must-sees” you want visitors to explore and why?
There are two main attractions of the BMRC. One is the steel mill, which is modeled after the Armco Steel Mill near Ashland, KY. We had two retired steelworker members who advised us on all the needed details and we were able to work out a track plan that allows the mill to be operated independently, with coal, ore, and other raw materials arriving and coil steel shipping out. The other “must-see” is the Mountain part of the layout, which represents the Big Sandy Subdivision where the interchange of the C&O and Clinchfield railroads took place. The Mountain contains quite a bit of hidden track and allows the model trains to transition from any one of the five levels to another.
What’s the one thing you want visitors to take away after exploring your 3D tour?
The virtual experience is meant to provide visitors with a unique and informed way of seeing a model railroad, especially with the ability to view the miniature details of the scenery and way of life of the 1950s and 60s.
What are the benefits of Matterport digital twins?
The advantages of the Matterport world we created is that it’s not only a virtual representation of a model railroad; it also provides points of interest with embedded photos, diagrams, and informative descriptions for many areas of the layout, including links to our website for further explanation of how the railroad works and operates. This makes Matterport digital twins a fantastic, interactive storytelling tool.
Do you have any plans to capture more 3D experiences?
Our next plan is to capture each level of the model railroad independent from one another (like levels in a house) to allow our Matterport visitors to experience the full breadth of the details of every level of the layout.