These photos represent the original layout during the period 2000-2004. The Lake Town and Shire was expanded to about four times its original size in 2005 and the towns along the route were relocated. Check the Track Plan page to see the new plan, and go to Later Photos for pictures taken after the 2005 expansion.
Here's an overhead shot of the entire Lake Town & Shire in summer of 2002. Hobbiton is on the upper right in front of the bench. The lumber camp in the lower right provides logs for a sawmill that was first built beside the lake after this photo was taken In the expansion of 2005, this part of the layout became the area of Middle Earth around Long Lake and the Lonely Mountain. Lake Town is beside the pond on the left and the rebuilt town of Dale occupies the area in front of the bench, the former site of Hobbiton. The ridge with two tunnels through it is Lonely Mountain, and the small building mid-photo marks the future site of the Lonely Mountain Resort. The sawmill now sits in the lower right where the lumber camp is in this picture, and the lumber camp is moved to a new Mirkwood Forest. The expansion extends off the top of the photo from the area in front of the bench.
The Bilbo Baggins passes a small farm near the end of Long Lake in 2000. A small bait shop can be spotted across the lake, and Tunnel #1 and the truss bridge are visible in the upper right corner of the picture. Both the farm house and the bait shop were bird houses that have since crumbled into oblivion.
Hobbiton mayor Sam Gamgee chats with Gimli the dwarf in 2001. Gimli is the fireman for LT&S #2. The Climax has been relettered since this photo. These figures were sculpted by son-in-law Chris Burdett who was a special effects make-up artist at Almost Human in Los Angeles, CA, at the time.
Hobbiton depot in early 2002. No. 3 pulls a string of empty log cars, No. 6 heads up a freight train of Hartford four-wheel box cars, and No. 5 is at the head of a passenger train. With the 2005 expansion of the railroad, this location became Dale and Hobbiton was moved to a new location.
Horace takes a breather after loading up No. 3.
A shelter has been built for a small sawmill. This structure is patterned after a portable sawmill at Agrirama in Tifton, Georgia.
A storage building was added at the entry to Longbottom yard in 2004. The middle track in the photo is the mainline, and the other two are spurs. During the 2005 expansion, the track at the top became a passing siding and the spur at the bottom was removed. This location became Lake Town and the Shire was moved to a new location. Longbottom is no longer on the LT&S route, but Longbottom Leaf, a pipeweed warehouse, is planned for the new Hobbiton.
The waterfall is a favorite spot for train-watchers in the Shire. No. 6 pulls a string of four-wheel box cars past the cascading water.
In October, 2002, the LT&S built an engine shed at Hobbiton. It is a scratch-built structure based on an engine house built in 1883 by the Carson & Colorado at Keeler, California (Railroad Model Craftsman, February 2001, pp. 61-65.) That structure was 50' long by 16' wide by about 20' high. The LT&S shed in 1:20.3 is 30" long by 9" wide by 13" high.
Shay #3 waits for a short passenger train pulled by #5, a Forney, to leave the depot. Then it will pull out for water and coal before picking up the caboose waiting on the freight track and heading off to pick up a string of loaded log cars at the lumber camp. This area became the location for Dale in the 2005 expansion when Hobbiton was moved to the new "western" end of the line. All the structures seen in this photo were moved to the new Hobbiton except for the engine house and the coaling station.
Sam Gamgee moved into Bag End, the former home of Frodo and Bilbo Baggins, in October, 2004. Resin castings for Bag End were created by our daughter Achsa Nute and her husband Chris Burdett. There is a small passenger station at Bagshot Row in front of Bag End. This part of the layout became Lonely Mountain in the 2005 expansion, and Bagshot Row moved with Hobbiton to a new location. The Row now consists of three hobbit holes in a row and Bag End is not in the initial plans for the new Hobbiton.
Hobbiton mayor Sam Gamgee was on hand to see the Barnhard log-loader in action a few days before Christmas, 2004.
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