Camp 5 could represent any number of historical logging camps that were once prevalent in Oregon and along the West Coast. Ed Glenn prefers to think of it nestled in the White Pine District of the Sumpter Valley, where he spent a summer laying track for the local railroad.
The model is still a work in progress, but Glenn, 75, knows the story he wants to tell. Logging camps were once the centerpiece of the American timber industry, only to be phased out as relics of the past. Most camps were portable, moving from place to place by train as the wood was cut.
As a model railroad hobbyist, Glenn said he gets to build miniature worlds over which he has total control. He envisions Camp 5, his latest project, as the re-creation of a bygone era with 10 rail cars hauling bunks and cabins for lumberjacks deep within the forest.
“Not many people remember or know about the logging industry around the turn of the century,” Glenn said. “Camp 5 has been a real place in a lot of different places.”
The camp is partially inspired by Glenn’s own eclectic career, which has included stints in both the railroad and timber business. Glenn has been building model trains for 70 years, and last year he took an interest in garden railroads, which led to the idea for Camp 5.
Glenn’s living room in Boardman is a craftsman’s paradise with rulers, plywood, paint and tools splayed out on his work tables. He has another paint shop and wood shop around back of his home, where he brings his creations to life.
On his kitchen table rests a short stretch of track made out of recycled tomato cages, where he shows off the first few model cars that will carry the bright red cabins for Camp 5.
“They move in with the camp and set up operations for maybe two or three years,” said Glenn, describing his fictional world. “In that time, the railroad extends farther and farther out. Then it’s time to move again.”
It was Glenn’s father, Harold, who introduced him to model railroads when Ed was only 5. Harold was a machinist helper for Union Pacific during World War II, and later he and Ed would work together logging trees from the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest in Baker County.
Glenn was born on a family farm south of Lostine and moved to Boardman in the early 1970s. Earlier this year, he and his wife Francis were given the Pioneer Award at the Boardman Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet, recognizing their 40-plus year in the community.
In that time, Glenn has been an attorney, winemaker, newspaper editor, duck call guru, city councilor and mayor from 2005-08. Model railroads remain a constant in life.
“They all have a story to tell,” he said.
Glenn said most of his earlier models were built on the HO scale, where one foot translates to roughly 87 feet for the model. The scale for garden railroads is quite a bit larger, with one foot equal to about 22.5 feet, and 45 millimeters of space between the tracks.
Working on a larger scale has its benefits for Glenn, who was diagnosed with a familial tremor six or seven years ago. The symptoms cause his hands to involuntarily shake, though he underwent brain stimulation surgery — implanting electrodes directly into his brain — to keep it under control. Glenn said when he does shake, it doesn’t show up as much on garden scale projects.
In addition, Glenn’s arthritis makes it difficult for him to get down on his knees to build tracks on the ground. For Camp 5, he has placed the tracks up on stilts that allow him to work while standing. This, he admits, does limit the amount of trackside vegetation he can include.
Glenn eventually hopes to have more than 100 feet of track looping around his yard, but he scoffs at the idea of ever truly “finishing” the model.
“A model railroad is never finished,” he said. “It may look pretty neat, but there’s always something to be done.”
Glenn is selling limited numbers of his Camp 5 models, which are available on his website at www.fn3inc.com.
Contact George Plaven at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-966-0825.