J. Anthony Koester, more commonly known as Tony Koester, is a well-known member of the United States model railroading community. Koester popularized the idea of proto-freelancing with his HO scale model railroad layout, the Allegheny Midland, along with his friend Allen McClelland's Virginian & Ohio. Koester is an alumnus of Purdue University where he studied electrical engineering. While at Purdue, he was also a member of the Model Railroad Club. In 1966, he helped co-found the Nickel Plate Historical & Technical Society to preserve the memory of his favorite railroad.
In 1973, Koester relocated to Stillwater, a town in northern New Jersey to take a position with Carstens Publications as editor of Railroad Model Craftsman. It was during this time that he developed a close friendship with Jim Boyd, the editor of Carstens' Railfan & Railroad. It was Koester's exposure to eastern mountain coal railroading in the Appalachians that led him to develop the concept of the Allegheny Midland. Blending elements of Nickel Plate equipment and operation with Chesapeake & Ohio structures and scenery, the Allegheny Midland became the Nickle Plate's plausible West Virginia coal-hauler. Regular updates in the pages of Railroad Model Craftsman made the Allegheny Midland known to modelers across America.
Koester left Carstens and took a job with Bell Laboratories, editing their publications for many years. In the mid-1980s, he began a regular monthly column called "Trains of Thought" in the pages of Model Railroader, published by Kalmbach. After twenty years editing telecommunication journals, Koester took on more work with Kalmbach, and became the editor of the annual Model Railroad Planning, a contributing editor and the "Trains of Thought" columnist for Model Railroader. He has also written nine books for Kalmbach (one per year since 2003):
- Realistic Model Railroad Operation (2003)
- Realistic Model Railroad Design (2004)
- Realistic Model Railroad Building Blocks (2005)
- The Model Railroader's Guide to Coal Railroading (2006)
- Planning Scenery for your Model Railroad (2007)
- Designing & Building Multi-Deck Model Railroads (2008)
- The Allegheny Midland: Lessons Learned (2009)
- Model Railroading from Prototype to Layout (2010)
- The Model Railroader's Guide to Mountain Railroading (2011)
In 2000, the Allegheny Midland was decommissioned and planning began for a complex multi-deck version of the Nickel Plate's Third District in HO scale. Concentrating on timetable and train order operations, this layout replicated the Nickel Plate Koester grew up with in his hometown in Indiana.
- Video interview with Tony Koester
- List of authors published by Kalmbach
- Biography at The Allegheny Midland Historical Society
- See Allegheny Midland Historical Society for photos, diagrams and other documentation of the layout.
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