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A Model Railroad of Southern Pacific's Cascade Line

W L Rogers, Fort Collins, CO

This model railroad is based on SP's Cascade line in the 1950s. While the layout doesn't model specific locations on the prototype line, it attempts to capture the spirit of the railroad. About two thirds of the scenery is finished and about one fourth of the trees are made and planted. A great many more trees must be planted before the layout evokes an impression of the western slopes of the Oregon Cascades.

The layout has two levels built around two walls. The lower and upper levels are connected by a track that winds back and forth along a long peninsula. This grade has about 90 feet of 2 1/2 percent track with one 16 foot siding. There is a Y at the top so that helpers can be turned and return light to the lower level yard. There is also a hidden helix that provides a return path to the lower level. Entire trains can also be turned with reversing loops on both levels.

I deliberately chose a 2 1/2 percent grade so that helper operations would be mandatory for trains with steam locomotives and more than about ten cars. Since nearly all of the layout diesels are powered and I generally operate three or four of them together, diesel powered trains usually don't require helpers.

Most of the operations both on this layout and on the prototype are through trains. The passenger trains on the prototype included the Shasta Daylight, the Cascade and various heavy-wieght passenger trains such as the Klamath and Oregonian.

Freight operatons included 4-8-8-2 cab forwards both as road power and as helpers. Helpers were added at Oakridge, removed at Cascade summit and returned light to Oakridge. Two helpers were usually added to a typical freight, one mid-train, and one just in front of the caboose or with a few cars between the rear helper and the caboose. During the transition from steam to diesel EMD F-Units gradually displaced the cab forwards (aka mallets).

In addition to the through freights, local traffic came from lumber mills.

My layout motive power roster includes Cab Forward 4-8-8-2 Mallets (Intermountain, Broadway Limited, Rivarossi), 4-8-4 GS-4s, (Sunset brass, Bachman), 2-10-2 steam, 4-8-2 steam, EMD F-Units, Alco PAs, and various diesel hood units.

Please click on the links below to see some layout photos and read some articles about various aspects of the layout. Click the brochures to see them full size.

Layout Photos
Name: Southern Pacific in the Cascades
Scale: HO (1:87.1)
Size: 30 x 11 feet with a roughly 26 x 2 foot extension for staging. See Track Plan.
Prototype: freelanced, based on the Southern Pacific
Locale: Oregon Cascades
Era: 1950s
Style: Walk-in/around the walls combination
Mainline run: 190 feet with scenery, 320 feet including helix and lower level reverse loop
Minimum radius: 30 inches (one hidden 28 inch radius curve)
Minimum turnout: No. 6 in yard, No. 8 on mainline
Benchwork: 2 x 4 frame with 1 x 4 risers
Height: 41 to 68 inches
Roadbed: cork on 1/2 inch plywood
Track: code 83 flex track with some hand laid
Scenery: Hydrocal and fabric screen over cardboard mesh
Control: Digitrax DCC, CMRI, and custom software
Layout Construction Photos
Bridge Construction Photos
Track Plan
Control System
Lift Bridge
Swing Bridge
Helix Notes
Rockwork Tips
InterMountain AC-12 Notes, Updated June, 2011
InterMountain AC-12 Album
BLI AC-5 Notes, Updated Dec, 2011
Brian Moore Adds Snow Effects November, 2010

Latest video - BLI Mornng Daylight in the Cascades

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