Wednesday, October 30, 2013

2006 - Defining some Layout Design Elements

In late 2006 with the information I had gathered so far I began to make drawings using Microsoft Visio of particular areas that could be built as scenes on a layout.  These are popularly know in our hobby as Layout Design Elements.  Not knowing when or where I would be building this layout, drawings of individual scenes made sense as they would define features that I would desire to have in the layout.  I realized that some of these might not fit in to whatever space I would have and that I would have to pick and choose from these as I developed the plan.

This is an example of the kind of drawings I was using at this point.  I felt that the west end of the paired track would make for an interesting operation.  This would be intended to be the west end of the modeled area.

I did drawings like this for each of the elements that I wanted to include in the layout and ended up with 9.  Besides the drawing shown above, some of the others included:
  • North Valmay power plant - This coal burning power plant receives unit coal trains.  The two tracks are separated by more than a mile here and a return loop from west to east connects those two tracks.
  • Shoshone - The location mentioned in the first post where both tracks go under the I-80 freeway and continue south following the Humboldt River to Palisade canyon.
  • Carlin - At the eastern end of Palisade canyon.  This was a division point for the Southern Pacific and they maintained some maintenance facilities here.  They also originated a local in Carlin that covered the mining industries to the west.  There is a also double crossover here and a few industry sidings on the SP line.
  • Flyover - I don't know if it's really called this but it's the point in the canyon where the WP line crosses over the SP line.  Interesting group of bridges.
  • Harny - When the City of San Francisco derailed here in 1937 due to sabotage, a bridge on the SP line that crossed the Humboldt River was also destroyed.  The river was diverted to eliminate the need for a bridge.  
  • Palisade - Tracks cross a pair of bridges on the west side before entering tunnels.  On the east side the SP line crosses a bridge that was destroyed in a 2008 derailment.  This is one of the more photographed areas on the paired track.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

2005 - Defining the modeled era(s)

As I learned more about the railroad operations through the Palisade Canyon, it occurred to me that a layout could have more than one era.  Around 2005 I figured out that it would be interesting to have the layout be set in three different eras.  These eras follow the mergers that took place in the railroad industry during the last 25 years of the 20th century and would allow for sets of locomotives and rolling stock for each era.

So, based on the merger history of the railroads that operated the paired track, these are the eras:

The SP / WP era: 1976 - 1982

In this era, the Southern Pacific and Western Pacific were the operators of the paired track arrangement across Nevada as they had been for many years.  A few of Western Pacific's locomotives are still in the silver and orange paint scheme but most are in one of the green and orange schemes.

The SP / UP era: 1983 - 1988

During these years, the Western Pacific has been merged into the Union Pacific.  UP's paint shops were fairly quick to assemlate most of the aquired WP locomotives as well as those aquired from other railroads such as the MKT (Missouri, Kansas, and Texas) and Rock Island.

The UP / DRGW era: 1989 - 1996
In this era the Southern Pacific Railroad has been purchased by Rio Grande Industries which also owned the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad.  They merged the two railroads and kept the Southern Pacific name and the scarlet and gray paint scheme but changed the locomotive lettering to a style similar to what the Rio Grande had used.

In the Midwest, the UP has taken over the Chicago & Northwestern and the Missouri Pacific and by now UP's paint shops are only patching the UP emblem and new road numbers on the the acquired locomotives.  As those locomotives find their way into the western reaches of the UP system, it means even more variety of paint schemes.

Besides using different railroad equipment that would be appropriate for each era, vehicles, structures, and other details could be exchanged to show the layout in different periods of time.  At this point I began to expand my locomotive roster to cover these 3 eras.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

2002 to 2005 - Researching the area

Over the next few years after that trip to Denver in 2001 I would occasionally do some internet research of the Southern Pacific and Western Pacific operations through the Palisade canyon.  I would follow the tracks on Google Maps satellite view and note the tunnels, bridges, sidings, and other features.  Then I started to collect photos of the line from the internet and figure out on the map were those locations were.

As I studied these things, I began to think that this would be a good prototype for a new layout I could build in the future, possibly when I had more room for one than I had at that time.

During this period of time I had dismantled a 12 ft x 3 ft layout that had been along a long wall in my spare bedroom / office space.  That layout consisted of my two 4 foot Ntrak modules, two end sections, and a staging yard.  This layout was replaced by a 12 ft shelf layout at a 51 inch height in the same location and that was loosely based on the Southern Pacific's Northwestern Pacific branch in Northern California.   Also during this time I was continuing to operate and further finish the two Ntrak modules.

It was images like this one that I found on the internet that inspired me to think about the Palisade Canyon as a subject for a model railroad.

One of the things I noticed was that there did not seem to have been much modeling the Palisade Canyon area going on in any scale.

Friday, October 4, 2013


With a new story and a new layout, I have started this new blog.  I already have two other blogs going that address different aspects of my model railroading hobby and those will continue but perhaps at a somewhat slower pace than in the past.

My interest in modeling the paired track through the Palisade Canyon in central Nevada can be traced back to a spring day in 2001.  John Claudino of Aztec Manufacturing and I were driving across Nevada on Interstate 80 on our way to the Rocky Mountain N Scale convention in Denver.

While I had driven this route myself before, my attention during those drives was more on the driving and not so much the railroad tracks that were visible in varying degrees from the freeway.  I had a general idea of the route that they followed as this was part of the route of the original transcontinental line.  I also understood that now in 2001 all of it was owned by the Union Pacific as they had taken over the Southern Pacific in 1996 and before that in 1982 had taken over the Western Pacific.  This time John and I were splitting the driving between us and I could be a passenger some of the time and take in more of the surrounding scenery.

John had a scanner in his truck and we were listening to the Union Pacific Railroad's radio traffic, and seeing a lot of trains on the nearby tracks.  As we headed east and were somewhere just east of Battle Mountain, the tracks that were on our left or the north side of I-80 curved to the right and under the highway to continue off to the south, following a river that at that time I did not know the name of.  I asked John where these tracks went and he replied that they went through Palisade Canyon and would re-join Interstate 80 further east.

Present Day

Many of the layout blogs I read have quite a few "catch up" posts as they are following a project that has been in progress for some time before the blog started.  In this case the layout construction is just about to begin in the fall of 2013 as I work to put the finishing touches on a new 200 square foot layout space in my garage.

These first several posts will cover how the idea and plan for this layout has developed over the 12 years prior to now.  I've gone back through my notes and drawings and will try to present these in a chronological order. After that I'll be posting regular updates on the layout construction progress.

So if this sounds interesting to you, please feel free to subscribe.  It is my hope that this will be a long story.