John Allen's Gorre & Daphetid

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John Allen and the Gorre & Daphetid

John Allen took up model railroading in 1944 and pioneered many aspects of

the hobby. He built floor to ceiling scenery, used carefully hidden mirrors to

expand vistas, and smaller-than-scale items to force perspective thereby

making objects look distant. He used ultraviolet light and fluorescent

painted signs and windows to create night scenes,  designed and weathered

his models to make them look old and more realistic, and created scale

people out of wire and beeswax to populate humorous vignettes on life. He

even built super-detailed structures so that he could destroy them with fire

to create realistic tragedies. Taking up the hobby when few supplies or kits

were available he pioneered and always preferred to scratch build rolling

stock, structures and scenery.

Over the years John Allen build

three layouts all known as the

Gorre & Daphetid (pronounced

Gory & Defeated). Unique to

the third layout, started in

1954, was the fact that it

incorporated not only previously

constructed structures and

rolling stock, but the entire first

layout almost unaltered (Right:

Plan for first layout).

John Allen’s interested extended beyond the artistic. His layouts were

designed for realistic operation. The third Gorre & Daphetid filled a good

portion of his basement in Monterey California and required a crew of 8 to

fully operate. John Allen used a "tab-on-car" system to achieve a realistic

ebb and flow of rolling stock and "smiles" (scale miles) to facilitated

operating trains according to schedules.

A professional photographer by

trade, John Allen enjoyed

meticulously arranging rolling

stock, models and people to

creating amusing, entertaining,

even hilarious, scenes. (Has the

policeman really arrested the

model T driver for speeding? Is

the man wearing the sombrero,

sitting on the rail and leaning on

his shovel showing his laziness? Is the tram conductor arguing with the

construction foreman because he wont let the tram pass?).

John Allen suffered a fatal heart attack in 1973 and the Gorre & Daphetid

was destroyed by fire 10 days later. Nevertheless, the memory of the Gorre

& Daphetid lives on. The few surviving photographs reveal his skill and

talent as an artist and his love and dedication to the hobby. To many, the

Gorre & Daphetid is a three-dimensional sculpture symbolizing the

impressive and spectacular degree to which model railroading can become

an art form.


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)