The new layout (Part VI) – Track plan and map

IMG_1991The Rails West layout is a proto-free lance layout.  It is free lanced in that it is not based on a particular location rather it is based on a place in my imagination in a generic western setting.  I particularly love  the Burlington Northern, Southern Pacific, Santa Fe, Rio Grande, Frisco and Western Pacific.  Within my layout size, I can’t model them all though and even come close to the “proto” part of the description.

So for now, I have bent reality a little and created a fictitious branch jointly owned by the SP and BN with connections to the parent roads as well as others depending on the scenario I have in mind.  You might think of my layout as a stage that hosts “plays” or better put “operating scenarios” across the American West.   The scenarios can be in Texas, Colorado, California or other locations only limited by my western, arid scenery (to come) and my imagination.

Carrizo Springs Branch (circa, early 1980s)

Map of Asherton Branch Line (joint SP-CB&Q line, now SP-BN) May 1982

The Carrizo Springs Branch (often referred to  as the Asherton branch because it used to venture across a small valley and over to a famous college town) services many shippers mainly clustered around two towns along the line, Mineral Wells and Carrizo Springs.  Big shippers include a mine at the end of the line in Carrizo Springs, Western Minerals, the State University located at the end of the Asherton Branch, and Rocky Mountain Feeds, a beer distributor and a bakery in Mineral Wells.

Occasional traffic sources include team tracks in both towns, an aggregate dealer in Mineral Wells and a piggyback ramp in Carrizo Springs.  The team track action will feature much variety in part inspired and informed by B. Smith’s recent excellent post on the San Fernando Valley Branch. He shared detailed data on team track traffic in along the branch.  The diversity was impressive.

Below is the current track plan.

Track Plan Jan 9 16Being the early 1980s, it permits some nice operations that would not be realistic in the years to come, such as the closing days of a piggyback ramp in Carrizo Springs, first generation diesels, a wide variety of team track traffic and cabooses.  All the great railroads we lost in the 1980s and 90s are on full display, including lots of BN predecessor rolling stock.


Note SL-SF, NP and CB&Q rolling stock

IMG_1943 (1)

Lone piggyback flat in the consist of the local.


Piggyback ramp in Carrizo Springs.

Since the BN-Frisco merger has recently been concluded, Frisco rolling stock will often appear and even SLSF locomotives may appear from time to time.


Delivering coal to the State college at the end of the Asherton branch.  Note the Exactrail hoppers.  This is a stunning product.

Proto freelance is probably not for everyone, but it works well for me since I have too many favorite railroads.  I love the flexibility it gives me, but not so much flexibility that the layout doesn’t ring true in the larger sense.

More to come…



4 thoughts on “The new layout (Part VI) – Track plan and map

  1. I once read where a seasoned modeler said that he didn’t model railroads, but rather he modeled caricatures of railroads. His modeling condensed several features of the prototype (swaybacked cars, rusty freight cars, dilapidated structures) in a way that was a bit cartoonish. However, it forced me to realize that in essence that’s what we’re all doing. Even the “prototype modeler” has to condense features of the prototype to fit his space. You’ve managed to capture MANY facets of railroading in the 1980s into a very reasonable space. That you can use this “stage” to emulate operations on several different railroads ought to provide an incredible amount of enjoyment for your modeling effort. I look forward to seeing your progress!

    Liked by 2 people

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