The above photo taken in Three Forks, MT in 1980s captures much of what the Rails West layout is all about–short trains in lonely, beautiful country evoking many of my favorite places and scenes across the American West.
To somehow give a larger narrative to the layout and give it context, I have developed a fictitious map of the region.
Only a small portion of this map is modeled on the layout. (See yellow box.) Two of my favorite western roads come together in Trinidad and have a shared line out to Carrizo Springs. I think of it as sort of a “Camas Prairie” arrangement like the BN and UP had in Idaho. For a detailed history of the lines see my earlier post. For the most part, the map of above tracks pretty closely with that history with a few tweaks.
Most notable on this map is the richer detail of the short line that goes to Carson State University. The Carson & Carrizo Railroad operates a line that the SP sold before the 1970 BN merger. Carson State University bought the line to ensure continued service to the campus. Coal and food shipments predominate the traffic to the university, but the line also hosts a fair amount of sawmill-related traffic since one of the old sawmills on the line reopened after the C&C RR took over.
Carson State University’s football team, the Cougars, draws a big crowd during the season and the Unversity has thought about running passenger specials to Trinidad so perhaps a little passenger action may take place in the future. The scenery of Carson National Forest could be a draw as well in the future. The line traverses numerous picturesque gorges and creeks on the way to Carson.
The map above portrays the modeled portion. At this time only the track and a few of the structures are in place. However, it is enough to permit me to have interesting operation sessions and there are enough structures to give my operations a sense of purpose.
In the next post, I will provide details on some of the structures in place and those to come.