Friday, December 1, 2006 at 12:58 pm

Gorre and Daphetid

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I’ve wanted to post something about the late John Allen’s late Gorre and Daphetid model railroad for years, but for the longest time I couldn’t find anything on the web to link to. There is, however, a reasonably comprehensive site at, which you should visit immediately.

Gorre & Daphetid John Allen, the so-called “Wizard of Monterey,” was a scenic and photographic genius whose modelling took a frequent turn to the madcap: in addition to the punning names (say “Gorre and Daphetid” out loud; cf. his “Akinbach Mountains”), there was a dinosaur used as a yard freight, a lynched diesel-locomotive salesman (Allen was pro-steam), and a near-microscopic model of a live-steamer’s club. It’s impossible to overstate his impact: lots of layouts bear his scenic cues — if you see four parallel bridges over a single river or scenery that extends to the floor, thank Allen for that. On the other hand, he stands out as a rare whimsical spirit in a hobby that too often seems hell-bent at taking all the fun out of itself in the name of realism.

You’ll want to see photos. The bible of the Gorre and Daphetid was Linn Westcott’s Model Railroading with John Allen: The Story of the Fabulous HO Scale Gorre & Daphetid Railroad, but it’s long out of print. (I reread my father’s copy two years ago.) Fortunately, has a ton of photo galleries, and is even releasing them as slideshows in a boxed set of DVDs. Central Valley Model Works has a set of black-and-white photos as well.

A video is also available, assembled from film footage shot late in the layout’s life. (It burned down shortly after Allen’s death in 1973.)

Finally here are a couple of pages — this one at and this one — about Allen’s Timesaver game: a switching puzzle played with model trains on a limited yard, the purpose being to complete switching operations in the minimum moves possible.

1 Comment

  • I remember Allen’s work from when I was a kid pawing through my dad’s Model Railroaders from the late sixties and early seventies. I was thrilled and amazed back then and still am today by his modeling. His working rail barge was my ultimate fantasy.

    I was a reality-fascinated kid and didn’t find delight in the dinosaur and other whimsical touches like I do today. Youth is indeed wasted on the young!

    (As an aside, I took all the covers off the magazines and hung them on my wall…then I simply gave the two big boxes of them away at some point. Oh, well!)

    Nice blog, keep up the good work–it’s tough to get the word out sometimes.