01 April 2024

7th Street Shops - Rails Flanges & Gears Post 18

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Doug Heitkamp

Doug on the Tick-Tock & Some Day train trip

 "Moderation, Derrell. Moderation" - Doug Heitkamp; after Vicki posted a photo of Derrell with a 1lb Snickers bar.




Doug Heitkamp was my friend. He passed away  much too soon on 3 Nov. 2023. In reflecting upon our friendship I realize I just didn't get to know him well enough. I don't know anyone who would not agree that he was the kind of person you naturally liked. He had a goodness about him; he was fair-minded with a steadfast quality.

Doug Michelle (the Pearsons too) Doing Mexican

Nicholas, Andrew and Emily, Boreas Pass, CO - Heitkamp




Doug was a good husband and devoted father of 3 children. Tragically, he and Cindy lost their youngest son, Nicholas, to an accident many years ago. Doug never stopped missing his son, but he was an optimist and found solace in his private beliefs and memories. I never saw him fall into despair or depression and I believe he was certain one day he would see his child again.

Doug was an excellent cook especially in his mother's Latina cuisine. He was always a great host and the last time we saw Doug was when Vicki and I visited Colorado in 2018. He and Michelle picked us up at the airport and offered a stay at their home for a few days. Doug and Cindy had divorced several years earlier and he married Michelle who was a very gracious and intelligent hostess. Their generosity was one of the highlights of our visit. Especially delightful was the gathering in their back yard one evening with several friends for a great dinner and time of fellowship. Both Darel Leedy and Patrick Tillery joined us; it was very reminiscent of days when we met regularly.

Doug was a big fan of Colorado standard gauge (3' rail to rail). He was a devotee of the C&Sng but he never divested of his love and collection of A.T. & S. F. stuff. He grew up in Los Angeles and was a fan of the Pacific Electric and other railroads of his childhood. He also maintained his collection of American Flyer trains. 

On the other hand, Doug's vast interest in all things railroading tended to overwhelm the specific focus needed to build an operating layout. He regularly rotated between a range of scales and gauges. We all joked about this and I finally suggested he just build a layout of everything. Joking like that just rolled off of him with a smile.

"The Tick-Tock and Someday RR Trip was a spin-off from the “Come to Michelle” talk about building the layout or she would take the complete basement for her Woodworking Shop. She said to him the “Clock is Ticking” - that is how I came up with the Tick-Tock label. So we named a number of events and layout designs of the”Future” Dougie‘s layout(s) that he would generate and keep him aimed in the correct direction. Or, tried to keep him focused. Not sure it worked but it was great fun, and he played along"  - Monte Pearson

The T-T&SD gang; Monte, Keith & Lynn, Michelle, Miller (Connie Pearson), Darel. Barry & Doug
Monte added that when Doug would finally come up with a track plan he and Darel would head to the lumber store. But on the way the dynamics of the two brainstormers would present new ideas that just had to be incorporated or even required a completely new plan. No lumber was purchased and it was back to the drawing board - again.

In the course of things he and Darel would sell the rights of "custody" of models - particularly brass locomotives - to each other with the stated admission that they would likely buy it back one day. To some degree I also participated in this activity. 

Both Doug and Darel had lived in the Denver area a very long time and had known each other almost as long. They did a great deal together that included camping, exploring and visiting various historical sites across the State. They spent time helping each other with model building and they had a common interest in all things vintage Volkswagen; bugs, buses, and even a Porsche or two. They regularly talked and met at various eating places; Darel was easily Doug's best friend.

Doug applying a template to the BOCHICA Mining RR  Feb 2022
Those of us who lived outside of the metro area continued to be in contact by other means (blog, email, phone and at opportune visits). Convention times, especially in Colorado, were always reunion times. Also among his best friends were Jerry Kitts of Foothills Models and Monte Pearson. Many of the Pearson photos shared here were taken by Monte during those events. Doug also visited both Monte and Jerry on a regular basis. On his visit to Brandon, MS in 2022 he helped Monte rebuild his layout in a matter of 3 or 4 days. 
Miller and Michelle in "The Land of the Giants"

Oh, Doug could build layouts and Monte was impressed with his computer generated templates for the track and roadbed.


In the photo below most of the Tick-Tock and Some Day (TT&SD) gang are gathered on a mission in Sept. 2022. Present were Keith Pashina, Miller (Connie Pearson), Michelle, Monte, Doug and Barrie Barrett. Only Darel was missing. And the mission?  Collect dirt for the BOHICA Mining Railroad Monte's tongue in cheek layout, of course. This was the layout he and Doug had built in February. They were at the Grand Central Mine in Gilpin County, CO. The photo was taken by a passing stranger.

Doug and Jerry go back to about 1989. Doug certainly contributed to Jerry's layout as well. The view of Jerry's layout was taken by Doug on a visit in March of 2003. He did quite a bit of mastering for the O scale narrow gauge cars offered by Foothills Models. He also contributed  to artwork for the Decals the company marketed. Doug was a talented and friendly guy who was always ready to help  his friends. 

Jerry Kitts On3 layout  - Heitkamp March 2003
After Vicki and I moved to Montana in Sept 2010 7th Street Shops boomed and I was hard pressed to do any personal modeling at all. I was also hard pressed to make any of the national events. The last one I attended was the 32nd National Narrow Gauge Convention in Seattle Sept. 2012. Doug did not attend that event. 

Yet we did stay in contact. Darel started the C&Sng Blog and that stimulated a lot more conversation. Most of my participation outside of  the blog was by email as I do not text.

I'm sure Doug and I talked on the phone prior but we first met in 1994. That was the year Doug and Cindy moved to Colorado from California  A friendship was formed that day that has lasted until this day. They visited for a few hours at our home in Black Forest, CO. While the women talked and our children played Doug and I had a broad ranging discussion - as we always did ever since. He told me that he had built Malcolm Furlow's San Juan Central RR in HOn3 but apparently he could not get the layout to work as published in the 1980 Model Railroader series. I don't remember what the issue was but it was clear Doug, who was a few years younger than I, also ventured into the hobby at an early age. Sadly, Malcolm passed away in March of this year.

We found a lot in common between us. He had read several articles I'd published and was enthralled with the "South Park" C&S narrow gauge as I was. We both had already started and were operating successful model railroad businesses. Building awards winning models was another commonality that manifested over the years. We are both published authors in various magazines (one of his articles appeared on page 42, April / May 1995 Outdoor Railroader). We both collected railroad memorabilia and old photos and studied history in general. We were both professional Technical Drafters as well as vintage car restorers. We often sounded historical theory off of each other as well as modeling technique and we traded a lot of information over the years. As I recall the purpose of his visit that day was to investigate some of  the C&S Connection's production techniques.

Darel, Doug and Michelle enjoying pizza with Monte and Miller

Not long after our first meeting my life changed and I decided to get out of the hobby. Doug offered to buy the C&S Connection, much of my collection of On3 models and my library of documents, books and photos as well as a large collection of drawings. At the time this was financially helpful but many years later it proved fortuitous when Doug offered to sell the photos and historical archives back to me. Along with the collection came much of the old the C&S Connection product that included all of the drawings. (Unfortunately, I've never recovered any of the models that Doug had sold over the years. I came across a few of them here and there but the ones I would have tried to purchase back were the 3 non-revenue cars.) I am grateful that my friend held the core of the collection until I was able to buy it back.

When I returned to the hobby several years later, I joined the small group that included Doug, Darel Leedy, Joe Crea and a few other irregulars. We would get together on a Friday evening once a month, go to one of the nice restaurants in the Denver area to enjoy fine dining and great discussions. Then we returned to one of our homes where the discussions often continued. When I began the Trout Creek Pass layout in 2007 we occasionally had a work night at my place. 

Doug and Monte ready to feast in Brandon MS

In fact, eating was a big part of our fellowship. recall our primary restaurant was a good Mexican place in Englewood, CO. We also occasionally got together at each others homes and with our wives we would all sit down to a tasty home cooked meal. Note the deliberately comical anticipation in Doug's eyes in the photo. Yes, this was the general sentiment the hungry models of our group who definitely enjoyed feasting together. Yum!. Vicki and I had the gang over one Saturday afternoon for just such a time together.

One evening we visited Joe Crea's wonderful Jefferson layout still in progress. Joe is well known for his fabulous 1/2" scale modeling. We met at Darel's home a few times and enjoyed his layout as well. Darel lived next door to Joe and on one of those occasions Joe brought Lane Stewart as our guest. Someone pointed out that we had 3 Gazette authors in the same room. That was interesting but when ever we met there was always something interesting. Today, thoughts of those times bring home what real lasting friendships are about.

Doug Junda & Darel at work on the Trout Creek Pass - Poole

One evening we visited Joe Crea's wonderful Jefferson layout still in progress. Joe is well known for his fabulous 1/2" scale modeling. We met at Darel's home a few times and enjoyed his layout as well. Darel lived next door to Joe and on one of those occasions Joe brought Lane Stewart as our guest. Someone pointed out that we had 3 Gazette authors in the same room. That was interesting but when ever we met there was always something interesting. Today, thoughts of those times bring home what real lasting friendships are about.

One of Lanes Stewart's wonderfully gritty structures - Heitkamp


As I remember my friend Doug Heitkamp, I realize what a loss he is to all of us. We love him and will miss him. His active contributions to our lives are no longer possible. What we have are wonderful memories. Let us cherish remembering him until we ourselves run out of track. 

All photos taken by Monte L. Pearson PhD and supplied to the author except as noted. My thanks to Darel Leedy and Monte Pearson for their contributions and memories.

Doug operating Bill White's On3 layout during the 37th NNGC in Denver 2017

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