Friday, December 31, 2010

UP Guadalupe Sub in 2007 - Photo by Charles Freericks

Happy New Year from Scale West Rails


Here comes the REDWOOD EMPIRE ROUTE. The Northwest Pacific. From San Raphael, CA to Arcata, CA info below from: NWP Historical Society

The Northwestern Pacific Railroad,the 'Redwood Empire Route', played a major role in the growth of Northern California. The line was created in 1907 through the consolidation of six separate picturesque railroad companies held by the Santa Fe and Southern Pacific railroads. At its height, the Northwestern Pacific Railroad was an amalgamation of some sixty different companies. Some of the forerunners built extensive and substantial operating lines. Others, were short lines such as he many logging lines in the Humboldt Bay region. Nearly a third consisted of companies which incorporated but never laid a foot of track. All of them contributed, in some fashion, to the rich heritage of the NWP.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Some Tim Kerkoff today (love this under the bridge shot) RHCP

What happened to Denny?

After a year, Denny has dismantled his exceptional N Scale Coast Lines SP layout in Italy. Here is a link to his videos. We wish him the best. He was a gifted modeler.

Denn'y N Scale Coast Lines

UP-DATE - Enzo checked in with me, Denny's friend. He is fine and well

Visalia Electric - The SP's gateway to the citrus empire of Central California

Visalia Electric pictures abound on Don's website. 

The Visalia Electric Railroad, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Southern Pacific Railroad, began as an electric interurban railroad in Tulare County, in the U.S. State of California.[1] The railroad was incorporated on April 22, 1904.[2] Passenger service was discontinued in 1924, and the electrification was removed in 1944. Subsequent operation was by diesel locomotive. The railroad was closed in 1992. 

The Visalia Electric used the unusual choice of 15 Hz AC at 3,300 Volts carried by overhead wire, with pantographs on the cars for pickup. Parent Southern Pacific intended this as a testbed for main line, long distance electrification of its own lines in the area, a project that never came to fruition. At one time in its life the Visalia Electric briefly interchanged with theATSF. The ATSF was seen by the Southern Pacific as a rival. So for most of the life of the Visalia Electric only interchanged with parent SPFROM WIKIPEDIA

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What happened to the way freight?

The days of the bobbin' along way freight dropping off cars at a bunch of industries, bringing other cars to the next division point or branch for further destinations. Now it's inter modal, units and colorful streaks of containers dashing across the country.

At lease UP Fresno is having fun with their Fresno-Madera local. They have a former SP Bay Window Caboose they painted UP colors and labeled The Madera Flyer. Check it out direct from Fresno, CA

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Wigwags of Fresno

Wigwag in Sanger, CA on old SP (SJVRR)

On Van Ness in downtown Fresno

This line is gone now, ATSF Locans, wigwag is still there

Southern Pacific's Santa Ana Branch

This is a former Pacific Electric branch line, and had PE Red Car service to Santa Ana until 1950, when the service was cut back to Bellflower. Bellflower lost passenger service in 1958 (freight operations continued for several years after, however), but its station still stands, boarded up and unrefurbished.
The branch was abandoned in three sections: The Watts-Paramount section survived into the early 1970s, the middle section from Paramont to Stanton (which included Bellflower) was abandoned in 2003, and the southernmost section from Statnt to Santa Ana survived until 1978. After the Watts-Paramount segment was abandoned, the customers were served from the other direction from a junction with both the Southern Pacific's The Los Alamitos Branch and The Huntington Beach Branch, in Stanton. 

Monday, December 27, 2010

Who Loves The Montana Rail Link?

Montana Rail Link, Inc. (MRL) is an FRA Class II regional railroad that has been partnering with businesses for over twenty years to ship their freight across Montana, the nation and the globe. The MRL system consists of more than 900 miles of track serving over 100 stations in the states of Montana, Idaho and Washington. It is one of Montana’s major employers, providing jobs for approximately 900 people living in towns all along our route. Our dedicated employees serve their home communities through involvement in a wide variety of causes.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

History of the San Ramon Branch Line (1891 - 1978) SP

Information taken from San Ramon Branch Line of the Southern Pacific by Irma M. Dotson.


America's Golden Age of Railroads began in the late nineteenth century. California's first railroad was built in Sacramento in 1856 and the transcontinental line was completed when the "Golden Spike" was driven in 1869. This led to rail lines being constructed throughout the Bay Area.

The San Ramon Branch Line railroad opened in 1891 after much dreaming, lobbying and planning for rail service by local citizens. They knew train service would allow freight and passengers to be transported in winter rainy seasons when County roads were impassable. After Danville Grange No. 85 was organized in 1873, members were involved in several efforts to bring a railroad to the valley.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Santa Fe's Perris Depot

Now the Orange Empire Railway Museum. Santa Fe had some interesting branch lines in Southern California before the BN merger. Perris, Hemet, Fallbrook, Escondido and more to name a few. Check out this great site with more information on these branch lines and their operations in Southern California.

Southern California Railroads

BN along The Columbia River Gorge

Monday, December 20, 2010

Tennessee Pass on The D&RGW

The real line
You gotta love the movie Switchback, filmed partly on the Tennessee Pass. This fabulous line was modeled by Bernie Kempinski. If you get a chance to check out MODEL RAILROAD PLANNING 2006. It includes the layout and a great idea to figure how and what to model with a modeling matrix that Bernie designed. It's called a Decision Matrix. You score from 0-3 the acceptability level of key components of a model railroad and across the top, the lines you want to model and on the left, the scenery, power, staging, etc.

Bernie's Tennessee Pass

The Rio Grande railroad follows the Arkansas River from Salida to Leadville and then over Tennessee Pass. This was the original Native American trail across the mountains.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Heading through the Rockies on The D&RGW

David K Smith's modern track plans

David is an exceptional modeler and has these great track plans posted for free: David K Smith

My Track Plans
Here, consolidated in one place, is a set of links to all of the plans I've done for myself that were committed to paper (real or virtual) and that I still have in my possession. They range from an N scale starter layout to various experimental designs, from expansive plans that barely made it past benchwork to plans for other scales.
Track Plans for Other People
If you're looking for some track planning ideas, here's a collection of plans I did mostly for members of the Railwire. Except where noted, they're all N scale, and range in size from compact door layouts to basement-filling empires. Feel free to use/modify/reproduce any of these plans.
FAQ: I'm often asked what software I use for track planning. Generally I'll start a plan with AnyRail, which verifies that the track geometry will work. From there, I'll export the AnyRail plan as an image into CorelDraw to add buildings and scenery, and from there into Corel PhotoPaint for final rendering.

The SP Lone Pine Branch

The SP Lone Pine Depot sits on the edge of town

This segment was formerly the northern end of the the Lone Pine Branch, or the Jawbone Branch, which was approximately 90 miles long and extended north from Mojave through the Jawbone region and Owens Valley to Owenyo (a few miles north of Lone Pine). The branch line itself was built around 1912 and was used to help build the Los Angeles Aqueduct. It was built as standard gauge, and there was a transfer station to the SP narrow gauge at Owenyo. (The last segment of this narrow gauge line lasted until 1960!)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

What happened to the days of the LHS (Local hobby shop)

I remember growing up in San Diego and visiting Frank The Trainman or the hobby shop on the navy base. It was an exciting Saturday when my dad would take me to buy some more cheap brass snap track out of the bargain bin at Frank's. Up until recently nothing was grander, than to visit the hobby shop with a small shopping list and chatting with the guys about model railroading. I live in Fresno, the 35th largest city in the country and we have no real grand LHS. Sure there's Hobbytown USA and a couple of small stores. Even the ones that serve the model railroader are not fully stocked and are not that friendly. I was in one of the aforementioned a few years ago and the proprietor was complaining about the customers. I miss the local hobby shop.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Layout Thursday: Cajon Pass by Ted York

This is one of the Western themed layouts that really rocks. It captures a spirit and time in our Country where the mighty Santa Fe and Union Pacific converged to enter the massive Los Angeles area from the high desert. Ted has been able to capture the feel of Devore, San Bernardino, Summit, Victorville and more. His design and scenery captures completely how the area looked. Now it's so modern with I-15 and the modern three rail main lines with welded sections on concrete ties. This is one of my favorites.
This is the shot that appeared on the cover of Great Model Railroads 2005. San Bernardino Yard. Wow this kind of looks like David Barrow's Cat Mountain and Santa Fe with the look of the desert, backdrop and shadowbox display style. The layout has been featured in Model Railroader and in Great Model Railroads from Kalmbach. The 2005 Great Model Railroads to be exact.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Everyone has a favorite

In our love for Western railroads, everyone has a favorite line and even a favorite train. Whether it's a passenger train or freight, each of the great Western lines ran very distinct and awesome trains. The Santa Fe Chief, The SP Daylight, Santa Fe's Chicago-LA Piggyback unit train in the 70's and SP's Sugar Beet Specials. The UP City of Los Angeles which streak across the desert and it's DD-40 led freights of says gone by. We had some trains of beauty and speed.

My personal favorites were on The SP, the beet specials:

They would hug the shoreline on The Coast Line and up and down The San Joaquin Valley. You would also see them in The Imperial Valley through El Centro and Palm Springs. They we be bound as unit train BKGUS for The Holly Sugar Plant at Betteravia, CA near Santa Maria for processing.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The San Diegan ( what a grand train)

When I was a kid growing up in Santa Ana, I would have to ride with my mom from Santa Ana to Oceanside (Camp Pendelton) to see the doctor at the Marine base. I had a weird. almost like polio condition in my left leg. It went away as fast as it came. We loved riding this train.

Santa Fe Depot in National City, CA

Built in 1882, the National City Santa Fe Rail Depot is the only original transcontinental railroad terminus in the United States still standing. On November 14, 1885, the first train left from National City to Waterman (renamed Barstow in 1886), 78 miles from its transcontinental link in San Bernadino.

National City Santa Fe Rail Depot appears today much as it did back in the late 1800's and early 1900's. In 1998, National City restored the Santa Fe Rail Depot to its original splendor. Expecially impressive is the woodwork and other interior details.
National City Santa Fe Rail Depot was designed with an Italianate style of architecture - a distinct style in the nineteenth century.
Today, National City Santa Fe Rail Depot functions as is a railroad museum and community meeting place in the main freight room which can hold up to 60 people.

Docents are available to conduct class and group tours. Snacks and drinks available for sale in our Bookstore. A picnic table is available outside the National City Santa Fe Rail Depot if you would like to bring a lunch and enjoy the typically nice San Diego-area weather.

The ATSF Escondido Sub

One of my favorite branch lines of The Santa Fe. Oceanside/Carlsbad, CA to Escondido. The line served the important citrus packing industry in Escondido and various industries along the way. Escondido has become a large city in San Diego Country and the line is still active with future high-speed passenger service planned. Here's a shot to the right from 1987 in San Marcos the second to the last stop on the line from Oceanside to Escondido. Check out this blog that really goes into detail on the sub. Craig's blog

This is Escondido and The Mighty Santa Fe

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Arizona and California Railroad

The Arizona and California Railroad  at one time belonged to the ATSF. It served the heat of the California and Arizona desert from Phoenix to Cadiz, California. It branched off the Transcon in Cadiz . The line went to Blythe, CA and across into Arizona to Phoenix. LA-Phoenix route this way was shorter than Williams to Phoenix through Prescott. Cadiz, CA where the Arizona and California Railroad meet The BNSF Transcon.
  • 190 mile (306 km) mainline from Cadiz, CA (BNSF interchange) - Parker, AZ - Matthie, AZ (BNSF interchange).
  • 57 miles (92 km) of trackage rights over the BNSF Railway from Matthie - Phoenix, AZ.
  • 50 mile (80 km) former branch line from Rice - Blythe - Ripley, CA. Now shortened as a spur for Rice freight car storage.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Working the Fresno UP Yard 12-11-10

A visitor from Montana

Only SP sign in the Fresno Yard that wasn't repainted
for UP

The SW's of 2011

Only short line leases and yard pigs get serviced
these days

Been a SJVRR lease job for a few years.

Days gone by in the UP Yard Fresno

This stub end track just ends before this old school DRGW flat car


This engine service from the SP days takes
care of some yard switchers and the SJVRR motive power

Southern Pacific Mountain Line - Santa Cruz, CA

The Mountain Line  was Southern Pacific's gateway to Santa Cruz and logging camps in the Santa Cruz Mountains. From San Jose to Santa Cruz and Watsonville to Santa Cruz this was one of SP's most picturesque lines. Top photo Geeps driving through the beach parking lot. Right is local heading to Davenport, just North of Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz Railroading History will give you more history and information on the line and it's importance.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Welcome to Frog Rail - Train watching hot spots all over the country

Frog Rail has over 3500 rail watching sites all over the country. Click on and find a place to relax and watch the consists. Bring your camera and have some fun. They want your spots too. Contribute to the foamer zones. This is from the site: Note that this railfan guide is growing nicely, but is still far too incomplete. If you have a good spot to include, e-mail the info to me here  Please give me the following if applicable:
  • Directions to the site 
  • Photographic considerations (e.g., wide open, great for afternoon shots, etc.)
  • Info concerning railroad activity, e.g., what rr's go thru there, frequency, major lines involved, whatever 
  • Pertinent area info, e.g. good restaurants, lodging with view of tracks or superior amenities, local area attractions, etc. 
  • Date site visited 
  • Your name (required) 

Joe Fugate's Siskiyou Lines 2007

Bruce Petty's Los Angeles and San Fernando Valley

Mark Lestico's N UP Cascade Division 2010

Charlie Comstock's Bear Creek and South Jackson 2010

Mike Danneman's D&RGW N 5x7 layout

David Barrows Cat Mountain and Santa Fe 1999

Fremo group in Europe Southern Pacific