An Encore Request on the Limpia Canyon Northern

B. Smith and I (C.E. Hunt) have been collaborating on this blog since 2014. My layout, RailsWest, is still very much a work in progress. My writing, art and other things keep me way too busy. B. Smith’s layout, the Limpia Canyon Northern (which now has multiple brands/eras) is almost a finished masterpiece.

I only say “almost” because he is always finding ways to perfect his layout! I often get requests to see his entire layout, so I thought I would post the beginning of a 5 part exploration of his layout from 2017 here. By clicking on the link below, it will take you to Part I of the five part series. B. Smith has continued to perfect the layout so there have been a few minor tweaks here and there and the range of the eras expanded, but the photos in this series are still close to the current layout.

Click here to begin the series. Hope you enjoy the journey! It is an outstanding layout. B. Smith has been a huge inspiration to me!

Click here to learn about the LCN family of “brands.”

WP Eureka Turn, Feb. 28, 1970, part 2

By B. Smith

Lunch was good. Tia’s has an original, carna asada tacos, that keeps the WP crews always coming back for more. (Click here to see Part 1.)

Okay, first thing is to get the three empties coupled together.

And the four car train pulls ahead.  All that’s left to get the caboose and spot that B&O box car.

Don’t couple into the caboose too hard, that’s the conductor standing by it and that caboose is his pride and joy.

Now we can again back down the Drill Tex spur, this time to spot their loaded box car.

All the way to the end of the spur.

The four car train pulls out of the Drill Tex spur, all local work completed.  (You can actually see the angle bars I spent all morning installing on the rails!)

Line the spur switch, do an air test, and head back north to the WP main and on to the Elko, Nevada yard where the train ties up.  Hopefully, mainline trains won’t cause too much of a delay and the crew can get an early quit.  One load, three empties will mean the train can make track speed.

WP Eureka Turn, Feb. 28, 1970, part 1

By B. Smith

Our all morning wait for the WP Eureka Turn is finally rewarded.  Train must of left the Elko yard late.  Only three cars separate the engine, WP GP-7 705, from the caboose.  A loaded SSW covered hopper for Fat Cow animal supplement, a 40’ box car load for Drill Tex, and a tank car full of molasses, also for Fat Cow.

A loaded WP covered hopper at Fat Cow is ready to go and the head end brakeman has the train couple into it.

Meanwhile, the crew in the caboose uncouple the caboose from the train so the tank car can be spotted.  Two tank cars already on the molasses spur are not released and will not be pulled.  Those cars are both private owner cars so no per diem is being charged.  The LPG car has been spotted for a couple of weeks and it appears is being used as storage for the product.

The molasses car is quickly spotted next to the one already there.

The train couples back into the caboose and pulls ahead to clear the switch from the run-around track.  Then the SSW covered hopper is spotted.

The engine and loaded covered hopper are now able to run around the caboose.  Before the B&O box car can be spotted, three cars on the Drill Tex spur, all released, must first be pulled.  Looks like Bob is having a struggle with the switch lock.

When Bob gets the switch thrown, the engine and covered hopper can back down the Drill Tex spur.  An empty bulkhead flat that had delivered some building supplies to the local lumber yard, an empty covered hopper and box car await.

The crew makes sure the grade crossings are clear, and walks over to Tias for a quick lunch. We’ll finish this run in Part 2.


To see a recent blog on CE Hunt’s writing site concerning a building near the railroad tracks in West Texas featured in A Moveable Marfa click here.

Action on the Kerrville Branch in 1968…(Part 2)

By B. Smith

Let’s resume the SP service on the Kerrville Branch in 1968. Click here to see Part 1.

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Spotting the empties.


The outbound train is dragged down the main between switches so the engine can get to the head end.
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But first the car of beer is spotted at the beer distributor (former Safeway warehouse).
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The engine runs around the outbound train and is soon headed back to San Antonio.

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Coasting now out of town. Two trips a week are made to Kerrville.


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Rio Grande, Micolithic and Northern Railway (A Guest Post)

By Chris Adams (Guest contributor)

Let me introduce myself.  I’m Chris Adams, a 54 year-old retired history teacher living in the Dallas/Fort Worth region of Texas.  I’ve always tried to live with some variety in life-in addition to teaching, I’ve served in the Air Force, dispatched trains for the BNSF, and currently have a “retirement” job as a chainsaw and small engine mechanic.  My personal “toy” is a 1962 Mercury Comet. 

But I’ve always loved trains!  When I found the Rails West site, I felt there might be some kindred spirits out there that pursue the hobby similarly to me. 

I love the deserts, mountains, and railroads of West Texas.  Reading about the Presidio and Northern really caught my interest.  My own modeling concept involves the tiny Rio Grande, Micolithic and Northern Railway.  It existed just to the west of the P&N. 

A map of the real Micolithic—-in my history, it will curve around to the East, connecting at Lobo, and become an alternate SP route.

It was built in the mid-1920’s, connecting the SP’s Sunset Route to some mica mines about six miles to the south (see map).  Before the Twenties ended, the line was defunct, and by 1939, the rails were removed.  The line employed a 25-ton gas switcher. 

In my world, however, the line still exists, and actually built eastward from Micolithic to Lobo, thus creating an alternate route for the SP.  A purpose-built layout is still in the planning stages, as I am currently operating on a somewhat generic layout.  However, I’m creating a theme and experimenting with a roster (see pics).  I’ve recreated the 25-tonner using an old Gilbert/American Flyer industrial loco.  Amazingly, I found a photo of the real loco, and this looks fairly close. 

Courtesy of

I’ve also practiced lettering some rolling stock, like the boxcar shown here.  I’ve also experimented with a more modern theme, with an MP-inspired livery.  In fact, the real Micolithic Line once intended to extend to Van Horn and the T&P, but never made it. 

So these are the beginnings of my new project.  Hopefully I can continue to report on its progress. 

Finally, my last photo here shows about all that’s left of the Micolithic Line.  It’s actually a loading ramp of sorts which trucks drove over, dropping their loads into waiting ore cars below.  This was probably built after rail service ended to the mines, with the mica being trucked up to the SP siding.  But talk about mood and feeling!  This pic shows a hint of just how lonely and barren this corner of Texas actually is!

Hopefully, I’ll make a lot of progress in the near future on re-creating this special corner of West Texas railroad history.