Friday, September 30, 2016


Wrapping up my trip back to the Salt Lake region for Great Basin Getaway, I had an opportunity to take in some “12 inches to the foot” (full-sized) rail equipment.  On Friday afternoon after we had completed operation on Rob Spangler’s excellent WP 8th Sub layout, we did some railfanning around Ogden.  We caught the Utah Central Railway switching a mill and then doing some street running.

Utah Central Railway is a shortline that has the switching contract with BNSF to service industries along the Wasatch Front.  BNSF gained the right to serve these industries as part of the UP purchase of the SP-DRGW in 1996.

That truck running along the street beside the track is driven by the roving conductor.  That is the way it is done these days.

Later that Friday afternoon and then again on Sunday, after the conclusion of major Great Basin Getaway activities, several of us visited the Ogden Depot Museum.  The museum has quite a collection of rail equipment.

UP 833 is one of the feature attractions.

Alongside is a UP “Centennial.”  These big diesel locomotives were delivered to UP in 1969—the Centennial of the Golden Spike.

SP is represented by a rebuilt SD45.  Ogden was the exchange point between the SP and UP—the Transcontinental Railroad partners.

A Cargill SW1 represents the many other rail activities in the region.

The museum has quite a collection of railroad cranes.

This former UP steam switcher likely served the Ogden Depot once upon a time.

Finally, my four-person carpool on Sunday decided to cap our experience by going out to Promontory—the Golden Spike site.  We got there just in time for the “1 pm show,” wherein the National Park Service reenacts the meeting of the steam locomotives featured in the famous photograph of the joining of the rails.

The Golden Spike site at Promontory, Utah.

The National Park Service has functioning steam-powered replicas of the two locomotives—the Central Pacific Jupiter and the Union Pacific 119—that they use for daily reenactments.

I look forward to returning to Utah for future model railroad operating events.  I also look forward to the joint Southern Pacific Historical and Technical Society and Union Pacific Historical Society convention at Ogden in May 2019—the sesquicentennial of the Golden Spike!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016


Continuing coverage of the major model railroad operations event known as Great Basin Getaway (GBG), the first three posts described the three layouts I operated on three separate days.

In addition to those operations, most of the layouts featured by GBG were open for touring in the evening.  Several other layouts were available for tour, as well.  The car pools I fell into (it was easy to gather in the hotel lobby and form a carpool) chose to tour the nearby layouts just south of Ogden. 

The first layout a group of us visited represented DRGW operations over Soldier Summit by  James G.  James’ layout was one of several seen in still-abuilding mode (aren’t all model railroads so?).  Nonetheless, recognizable scenes along the DRGW were evident.  We met up with quite a few other carpools visiting this layout.

James is talking with a couple of the many visitors as a UP freight rolls by.

Castle Gate was very recognizable!

Our carpool then visited Allen M, an expert structure modeler.

Allen’s city downtown and nearby refinery were all lit up.  That mill complex along the wall deserves a closer look.

The feed mill on the left was inspired by a mill in Ogden.  I saw the prototype mill the next day while touring Ogden.

The proud builder stands besdie his work when I went back the next evening.  Excellent modeling by Allen!

The next day I carpooled with Bill S, a Great Northern modeler.  Our first stop was with Tim M, another GN modeler and excellent craftsman.  Tim had an interesting collection of models including subsidiary SP&S, a road I follow closely.   I could appreciate the models and the craftsmanship of all.

Tim demonstrates his rolling lift bridge for Bill S. and me.

The covered hopper serving as part of a grain complex was just featured in the GNRHS quarterly “Goat” and modeling notes.

My final layout tour was with Mickey B.  Mickey’s empire is another one still developing, but good bones were evident in both the layout and structure models.

Mickey B. running trains around his layout.  Large industries with multiple car spots are featured.

Friday, September 23, 2016


The three-day model railroad operation event in Utah known as Great Basin Getaway (GBG) was a wonderful experience for me and about 75 other guest operators.  It was a great opportunity to operate on some wonderful layouts and to renew friendships and acquaintances from all over the country.  Guest operators came from both East and West Coasts and points in between.  We had a sizeable group of Oregonians as well as a similar group of my friends from the San Francisco Bay Area.  Many of the others I met last year during the NMRA National Convention in Portland.  GBG was a great chance for me to meet and talk with folk in a far more relaxed mode than last summer! 

My prior two posts documented my first two days of operation.

For my third day, I drew the layout of Pat B.  Pat served as a conductor for the SP out of Southern California and then went on to training other train crewmembers.  I have met Pat at a number of SP related events.  On one of those occasions, a decade ago, Pat took note of the flat car “XMUG” (empty freight cars to Eugene) that left Los Angeles every night.  This was a solid train of flat cars headed to Eugene.  That was the first I heard of that particular operation.  It immediately impacted the design of my SP Cascade Line, as I knew I needed to plan for that very distinctive train as one of my RR-East trains.  I looked forward to operating on Pat’s condensed version of switching in the Los Angeles Basin.

As we arrived, Pat and his local crew were cleaning locomotive wheels.  This is a necessary task for such intensive switching operations.  Our operating crew was very glad he took the time to do so!

A local crewmember cleans track at the SP Bull Ring Yard.  Though condensed, landmark features of this yard have been captured including the S-curve layout and concrete viaduct.

The harbor district.  Both SP and ATSF switch the piers.  I drew the SP job and had a great time.  The lift bridge on the right was an impressive bit of engineering and modeling.  It was lowered when trains needed to cross.  Noted fellow SP modeler Tony Thompson is inspecting the port area, as “Daylight Dave” of Daylight Sales passes behind him.  Dave H. did a special polo shirt for the event.

The foundry alongside the harbor district.  My SP harbor job switched here, as well.

SP’s Taylor Yard—greatly condensed.  Eric D. works in the foreground, while Seth N. works the other end of the yard and Ray D. works the ATSF Hobart Yard behind him.

Pat models four yards in the Los Angeles Basin:  SP’s Taylor and Bull Ring yards, ATSF’s Hobart Yard, and UP’s East Yard.  The industry jobs take cars to and from at least one of those yards while yard transfers work among the yards.  My SP harbor job took its cars through Taylor Yard and around to the Bull Ring Yard where I picked up a new cut of cars to take back and spot at the harbor.

Pat D. works a Santa Fe job.  His moves could conflict with SP harbor district tracks in this very congested area.  Coordination was crucial!

Dave S. works the citrus groves with a Santa Fe job.

We wrapped up on Pat’s layout by mid-afternoon.  This gave us time to go back to the hotel and clean up for dinner.  Dinner was a marvelous catered prime rib affair.  It was a great chance to meet with our hosts and all of the visiting operators, many of whom were off operating on the other four layouts supporting the 2016 edition of Great Basin Getaway.  I returned home “happy-tired” after an intense three days of model railroad operation and additional rail fanning (more on that later).