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Slim & Stumpy at Grant's
Slim & Stumpy Visit the Squirrel Valley Railway
© George C. Thomas 1999
(Photos taken by my good friend Phil Creer)

It happened the other evening, just as it had happened before. When the old gibbous moon was high in the sky and someone in Circleville, Ohio was playing “The City of New Orleans” on the radio, Slim and Stumpy entered the plastic-plasma phase and began to “connect.” This may already seem strange, but there is more. You see, Slim is a 1:20 figure on “Engineer” Jeff Saxton’s Winona & Thorny Mountain RR in St. Louis, Missouri, and Stumpy is a short 1:20 figure on George Thomas’ Lazy Acre Lumber Company RR in Delran, New Jersey. Just why the old gibbous moon and “The City of New Orleans” are important is unclear, but Circleville, Ohio, is about halfway between St. Louis and Delran. Perhaps that is explanation enough.

When Slim and Stumpy “connect” they plan to visit a great model railroad. In addition to visiting each others railroads they had already enjoyed four others. But one can never visit too many railroads; this goes without saying in the hobby.

“Let’s go see Grant Alexander’s Squirrel Valley in Wellington,” suggested Slim.

“What? We just saw Warren Stirling’s Hungry Creek & Long Pass in North Auckland. Let’s not visit New Zealand again so soon,” answered Stumpy.

“But Grant just moved and has a brand new garden railroad. If we hurry we can make the first run.”

“Well in that case . . . Let’s go,” said Stumpy, and they hurried off to Wellington, New Zealand. In fact, they were in such a rush that they landed on a steam locomotive. (They usually are more careful.)

“Something isn’t right here,” said Slim. “This locomotive is far too large. Kind of the opposite of what happened when we visited Doc Patti’s On3 layout in Audubon, New Jersey.” (See their first adventure.)

Just then Stumpy looked up and saw a large "being" (for want of a better word) that appeared to be reaching down to them. “Oh n-no...” stammered Stumpy. “A b-big hand is r-reaching for us. I t-think it’s God.....are we d-dead?”

Just as Stumpy was falling to his knees, Slim pushed him off the locomotive and jumped after him. “You dummy,” laughed Slim. “That’s just some guy with his 1:8 live steamer. We need to find Grant's smaller, large scale layout.” After Stumpy recovered from his frightful, religious experience and the subsequent fall, they headed for Grant's garden railroad. It wasn't too far away; Slim had spotted several squirrels running that way from his former, high vantage point.

Slim was correct. The squirrels were indeed heading for Squirrel Valley, which was naturally the location of the Squirrel Valley Railway. When they arrived a worker pointed to a white ribbon that stretched across the track. The grand ceremony for the inaugural run would happen right there.

“But first,” said Stumpy, “Let’s order some pizza.” He had spotted a nearby, outdoor cafe. “I’ll have a pepperoni, please,” he called to the waiter.

“Hey, what about me? I want to have green peppers and onions,” said Slim.

They argued back and forth, and then compromised on a large sausage and mushrooms. (I know, it doesn’t make sense to me, either.)

They had just finished when they heard the approach of the train. What a beautiful sight to see the sleek passenger train rush toward, and then “cut,” the ribbon. They thought that Grant must be very proud of his work. Slim and Stumpy waved as the train rolled by. Perhaps the engineer recognized the two American celebrities, or maybe he just had a soft spot in his heart for railfans. At any rate, he stopped the train and Slim and Stumpy were invited to ride on the observation car’s rear platform. “Bindle Jim,” a former miner, was their host. He made sure they saw all the points of interest; the scenery was absolutely beautiful.

Just then they saw a logging train on a siding. “Can we get off and check that out now?” asked Slim. He and Stumpy loved logging railroads.

“I’ll see what I can do,” said “Bindle Jim.” He signaled for their train to stop. They got off, ran back, and climbed the steps of the caboose. When they went inside they were greeted by Clark and Merv. It turned out they had been loggers in the Pacific Northwest, until they came to New Zealand after hearing about her extensive forests. They had logged down here for several years, but now, in their retirement, they ride the rails and share tall tales with anyone who will listen. “Bindle Jim” (apparently he once forgot his bedroll) was a willing listener and thus worth his weight, slight as it was, in gold. A whisky jug appeared, which enhanced the height of their tall tales. Slim and Stumpy reciprocated with stories about their own Winona & Thorny Mountain and the Lazy Acre railroads.

And then the jug was empty, and Slim and Stumpy realized it was time to depart for their respective homes. They bid adieu to Clark, Merv, and “Bindle Jim,” and climbed down from the caboose.

They sauntered down the track a bit, not wanting to leave, but knowing they must. Saying good-bye was always difficult for these two railroad buddies.

“When and where will I see you next?” asked Slim.

“Who knows," answered Stumpy. "It’s up to the moon and a beautiful railroad song. There are plenty of other fine layouts to visit.”

“You got that right, little buddy,” said Slim. “Until next time.”

And so they both vanished into the cool, thin air of New Zealand, heading back to Missouri and New Jersey. But rest assured, Slim and Stumpy will meet again to make another layout visit. So load your logcars, web site readers, it could be yours!

Enjoy the next Slim & Stumpy adventure
Visit the Squirrel Valley Railway
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