Friday, March 23, 2012


An important part of layout planning is research into the railroad to be modeled and the area served.  Such research is needed for a plausible model railroad whether it is based “closely” upon a real railroad or represents a fictional “could have been”.  Allen McClelland showed us the way with his landmark Virginian and Ohio series in Railroad Model Craftsman back in the 1970’s.  More recently, Tony Koester has been pointing the way with books and magazine columns for Model Railroader.  There are many others doing such research and publicizing their results. 

Notable publications for the Southern Pacific have been the series of books on mountain routes by John Signor, covering the Shasta, Donner, Tehachapi, Beaumont, and Coast Line (Cuesta).

Turning to the specifics of “The Southern Pacific in Oregon,” we have two excellent books by that title (the second adds “Pictorial) by Ed Austin and Tom Dill, published by PFM (1987 and 1993).  The first volume covered SP lines in Oregon mile by mile (detailed, but easy reading!), while the second volume added a wealth of photos.  Tom Dill went on to doing a book for Four Ways West:  “Southern Pacific’s Colorful Shasta Route” (1996).  These books have been my constant companions over the past decade as I developed and refined my model railroad layout dreams.

Other books provide additional flavor and detail on the SP in Oregon.  “Southern Pacific Oregon Division,” by Brian Jennison and Victor Neves, Hundman Publishing, 1997, presents beautiful color photography of the post-1964 Oregon Division.  Great inspiration!  “Backwoods Railroads”, by D.C. Jesse Burkhardt, WSU Press, 1994, provides wonderful photos and text, capturing the flavor of the many Oregon branch lines, which fed forest products to the nation.  Dan Rehwalt grew up in Oakridge, the helper station at the base of the Cascade Hill.  Dan has published (Grizzly Press) several volumes of tales from his life around the railroad and growing up in Oakridge.  Of particular note are “The Hill” (2003), “Smoke and Rat Holes” (2008), “ Westsider” (2004), and “The Light at the End and Other Railroad Stories” (2003).   Oso Publishing provided “The Modoc” by Jack Bowden and Tom Dill (2002).  Together with Signor’s “Southern Pacific’s Shasta Division” (Signature Press, 2000) this pair provides perspective on the principle connections to the rest of the SP system.  Each of these contributed inspiration and valuable insight for my modeling efforts.

Though the railroad route books provide good maps, a USGS topographic map provides a more complete representation of the rail route and mountain climb.  The USGS 1:250,000 Roseburg chart, used as the background in the book illustrations encompasses the majority of the Cascade Hill climb in the upper right corner.  The SP rail route is the heavy black line.  The Heather-Wicopee-Fields-Cruzatte giant “S” shows just above the “OC” in the “Modoc” title, above.  That big “S”, with tracks stacked in sight of each other as they climb the mountain is a major feature of the grade.  It presents a useful opportunity for model railroad track planning. 

“Railroad paper” in the form of employee timetables, track diagrams, station plats, SPINS diagrams, and Sanborn insurance maps provide important clues as to how the railroad organized itself for its transportation job. 

Additional, important information on the Cascade Line was found on the internet, in regional meets, museums and from personal connections with railroaders and others.  These sources are sufficiently important that they will be addressed in a future post.

No comments:

Post a Comment