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Making sure to see what's really there

Read the N Scale Insight column from the May 2018 Model Railroader
Jim spread the tracks farther apart at his cement plant to give the structures room to breathe and look more prototypical. More work remains, but the scene is progressing.
Roen Kelly photo
Does this ever happen to you? You’re driving down a street you’ve gone down a hundred times before and you notice a particular house for the first time. “Where the heck did that come from?” you’re wondering. My point is we can look right at things and not really see them. The photo on this page is an “after” shot. I wish I had a “before” to better make my point.

The photo shows my N scale version of the Monolith Cement Co., which in 1985 stood 4 miles south of Tehachapi, Calif., along the Southern Pacific. There’s a cement plant there today, but it replaced the one I modeled and is far different. There’s been a cement plant at this site since 1908, and it produced much of the material used in the Los Angeles freeway and aqueduct systems. The plant receives limestone from a quarry about a mile away, crushes it, and bakes it to about 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit in a rotary kiln. The result is baked-out chunks of rock, called clinker, that are then ground to the powder that we know as cement, the essential ingredient in concrete.My structure is based on photos I took, general information on the internet, and photos posted online of a model of the plant built by Dan Kamakubo of the Belmont Shore N scale club in San Pedro, Calif.

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