Kalmbach Publishing…

We had planned on stopping at Kalmbach Publishing on our way home as Waukesha is outside of Milwaukee on the way to Minneapolis. I thought it was farther than it was and it could have been a day trip. I would have preferred to have called ahead, but was unsure when we would get there. I’m sure they would have liked a call, but the guys at Walther’s had said that you didn’t really need to.

Kalmbach Publishing, home of Model Railroader and some other magazines.
Kalmbach Publishing, home of Model Railroader and some other magazines.

We walked in and over to the receptionist, who asked if she could help us. Trying to sound intelligent and knowledgeable, I just kind of babbled. It took just a second and my wife stepped forward and told the receptionist that I was a model railroader and was wondering if we could possibly have a tour. She looked at me and smiled at my wife, said sure and called upstairs.

About 5 minutes later Associate Editor Eric White came downstairs. We exchanged the usual pleasantries, where were we from, what scale and road and such. Then hi smiled and said lets get started.

Again like Walther’s and their employees, everyone at Model Railroader were exceptional. Even though you are interrupting their work day, they all take time to stop and talk.

First stop was their history case. A couple of things that caught my eye.

The only surviving engine from John Allen's "Gorre & Dephetid". It was out at a friends house for repairs when a fire destroyed John's layout.
The only surviving engine from John Allen’s “Gorre & Dephetid”. It was out at a friends house for repairs when a fire destroyed John’s layout.
3-D mockup by Gordon Odegard for the Clinchfield project layout.
3-D mockup by Gordon Odegard for the Clinchfield project layout.

Then a swing around the Editorial offices, where the only one in his office was Steven Otte. The senior editors were all in a meeting. Then as you swing around you come to the area where the magazine and page layouts are taken care of. After that was a large hallway where all the older project layouts that Model Railroader still has are parked.

The "Beer Line" layout.
The “Beer Line” layout.
Scene from the Beer Line layout, Al Kalmbach and crew with the complete first run of model railroader magazine. This is from a picture from 1934.
Scene from the Beer Line layout, Al Kalmbach and crew with the complete first run of model railroader magazine. This is from a picture from 1934.
The Virginian project layout.
The Virginian project layout.

Then it into the Magazine’s workshop. This is where they build the layouts that you watch on the webcam. Eric even offered me 15 seconds of fame by asking if I wanted to step out in front of the camera so I could go live on the web. Sorry, I declined. However, Cody Grivno was in the shop working at getting an engine cleaned.

Cody in the workshop cleaning an engine.
Cody in the workshop cleaning an engine.

Although he kept working on his project he stepped around and we had a very nice chat. Turns out he’s from northern Minnesota and would come down to the cities to hit the local hobby shops. Again, it amazes me that they are so willing to take the time to talk and make you feel at home.

After some time talking we moved on. Next up, the MR&T. I wasn’t disappointed, however after seeing it in the magazine so many times, it’s not how I imaged it. I can’t explain it, it just falls into place different then I expected.

Below are some shots of areas that I remember as articles.

Harbor scene from the MR&T layout with the associated magazine project page.
Harbor scene from the MR&T layout with the associated magazine project page.
Another magazine project on the MR&T.
Another magazine project on the MR&T.
And another...
And another…

And then we were done, back down to the lobby where I thanked Eric profusely.

Two side notes:

First, out of curiosity I asked Eric how they decided who would give tours, he sheepishly admitted that everyone else was busy and he was texting his wife. He got picked.

Second, if you think your workbench is cluttered, below is a shot of the editor’s office for “Classic Trains”:

The "Classic Trains" editor's office, and I thought my workbench was bad.
The “Classic Trains” editor’s office, and I thought my workbench was bad.

Lastly some shots from the lobby.

Tribute to Al Kalmbach, fifth still from the bottom on the left is the picture recreated on the Beer Line of the first publication.
Tribute to Al Kalmbach, fifth still from the bottom on the left is the picture recreated on the Beer Line of the first publication.
More history, the first printing press, Al's first homemade train and stories and awards for Kalmbach Publishing.
More history, the first printing press, Al’s first homemade train and stories and awards for Kalmbach Publishing.
Another photo of Al and the first run, with his philosophy.
Another photo of Al and the first run, with his philosophy.

I cannot not tell how much I appreciated how welcoming everyone we met were. I would highly recommend a visit to Kalmbach Publishing and Walther’s if you are in the area. They would probably appreciate a call if you know when you can stop by, but they seem happy to accommodate you if you don’t. Kudos to them all.

Next time, what has been accomplished downstairs.

Happy Railroading…

 

 

 

 

 

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