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Note from Editor: "Papa" Ted Althof, who loved all things Christmas and created the internet's largest and most authoritative site about cardboard Christmas "putz" houses, also dabbled in O gauge trains.
Like me, Ted was no math genius, so as he worked his way through the puzzle that the track plan represented, he kept going back and rethinking parameters and possiblities that a more mathematically-oriented person would probably see from the start. Ted also had most or all of the Lionel hardware he needed to try the whole thing out for himself on the living room floor. If you want to try this railroad plan yourself, or if you just like looking at the photos, I'm sure you'll enjoy taking a look. Donna sent me these precious black and white prints - tiny little scallope-edged things from 1941 - that she says were taken by relatives of hers in Scranton, PA. Here's a down-front lower-left closeup on the Lionel #137 Station with liberal use of Lionel and Barclay figures. The old "High-Rail" 0-31 track and type 0-22 switches, with their "non-derailing" feature,which when connected by wires to other switches - actually form logic cells comparable to those in modern computers.
When the train comes out of the tunnel and reaches Switch B, it turns down the central track toward Switch C.
Meantime, the train is passing over Switch C, over X1 and down around the left lower front toward Switch A and the tunnel again. So the train goes through the tunnel and comes to Switch B again, but this time goes straight and into Switch D, which was previously set to the "3" (straight) position by Switch C and continues straight at Switch D. Already set to "2" (straight), Switch A sends the train into the tunnel, and no change is made at Switch B.
It goes straight through at "B," and into Switch D again, which was previously to the "4" position by Switch C.

Now it turns at "D" and goes down through X2 into the lower curve, and left into our ORIGINAL STARTING POINT!
The train goes through Switch A straight, comes down around again and through X1 into Switch C - but this time Switch C has been set to turn out so that the train now passes through the other leg of X2 and out around the coal elevator and into Switch D again. We welcome your questions as indicators of what we should be working on next (also, we always try to answer reader questions quickly). To read more, or to look at recommended Indoor or Garden Railroading products, you may click on the index pages below. While it's an enormous hassle to deal with paper prints, you know how I LOVE old photos and these were exceptional ( from the year of my birth ) - and so I wheedled my savy good friend, Mike,who knows how - into bringing these to size and life.
A lionel #184 Bungalo on the right and a Lionel #191 Villa behind the plaster "Store." I wonder what these little figures are.
It's made of brown paper grocery store bags all crumped up and accented with paint - the same way an American Flyer collector friend of mine still makes his mountains to this day.
I never seen anything like it in any of the old Lionel catalogs and publications of "suggested track plans" anywhere. The train would have taken three different routes over the layout before repeating - with no human intervention. Each pair operates together to set and reset each other always to the same position at the same time.
If Switch A is set straight, the train will continue down and around front and up thru through X1 and into switch C.
The train now turns at Switch A and goes thru the other leg of X1 and up into X2 and into Switch D.

It came later, showing the "northeast" corner of the layout, so I was "educated-guessing" about the "Switch D" - "X2" configuration.
Without that missing view, we'll never know for sure, but they certainly did manage to reach down over 60 years and spark another mind! In addition, if you have any photos, tips, or articles you'd like to share with your fellow hobbyists, please let us know. All information, data, text, and illustrations on this web site are Copyright (c) 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 by Paul D. If You Buy From A Non Authorized Dealer Your Warranty Will Not Be Honored By Most Manufacturers. The text below represent his last attempt to sort it out, without all the false leads he followed during his research. They're half the height of the Barclays I remember, and the Lionel Train Figures were bigger, too.
Theoretically, if another pair of switches could be worked in - you could multiply that number before repeating, but so far I can't even visualize a third pair.

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