Thursday, August 3, 2017


Each year near the anniversary of the start of construction of my SP Cascade Line, I conduct a photo survey of the railroad.  This helps me and others to see the progress made over the preceding year by comparing to previous surveys.  The official start of construction of my railroad was August 1, 2012.  August 1, satisfies my partial Swiss heritage—Swiss National Day, dating back to the original canton confederacy in 1291.  Cue William Tell! 

Last year’s railroad survey can be found at:

You can work back through previous annual surveys via that link.

Last year’s survey followed a RR-West train from Eugene to Crescent Lake.  This year, I chose to work RR-Eastbound from Crescent Lake to Eugene.  In the process of re-staging the railroad for an operating session at the end of the week, I needed to move one train down from Crescent Lake to Eugene, so that became the “lucky” one to be featured this year.  Follow along in photos and captions as I move SP7474E down the mountain grade and into Eugene.

SP7474E starts out at Crescent Lake.  Although this scene appears similar to one at the end of last year’s survey, a major change is that I am standing on the permanent operator platform for Crescent Lake instead of the step ladder that served for four and a half years.  Evidence of the platform is seen in the foreground where a shelf, car card slots and the corner of the switch control panel for Crescent Lake appear along the layout edge.

SP7474E crosses through the throat switch for the Crescent Lake reverse loop staging.  The bright blue LED indicator below the third boxcar was a recent addition to help train crews know which way the switch is set for.

SP7474E passes through Cascade Summit. RR-West (uphill) trains remove their helpers here.  Lighting is uneven this close to the ceiling. The operator platform height to the ceiling is seven feet, with the railroad five feet above the platform (two feet below the ceiling).

SP7474E works down from the summit, dynamic brakes screaming (at least in my head).  The lead locomotive has started out onto the future site of Shady Creek Trestle, one of three large steel trestles on the line.  Tunnel portal mock-ups have been planted to get me inspired to pursue scenery—soon.  My railroad will feature ten of the prototype line’s twenty tunnels.

SP7474E meets SP9232W, the BRLAT, helped by SSW9066 at West Cruzatte.  Today’s Dispatcher will catch some “flak” for delaying that pig train.  The Brooklyn (SP’s Portland, OR, Yard) to Los Angeles Trailer is a “hot” train.  This past year, I have added signature elements to the priority freight trains on the railroad—the Forwarder and Trailer trains.  This usually means auto racks and trailer-on-flat-car (TOFC) at the head end.  With those 89 ft. cars in train, SP rules call for placing the helper on the “point” (ahead of the lead locomotive). 

SP7474E swings around and over Salt Creek Trestle and into Wicopee.  The future trestle here should become a signature scene on my railroad, just as it is for the public on the prototype Cascade Line.  Oregon Highway 58, the Willamette Pass Highway, passes underneath the trestle.

SP7474E crosses Salmon Creek Trestle as it approaches Oakridge.

SP7474E rolles through the RR-East end of Oakridge.  Lots of work awaits this weekend’s operating crew!  Another RR-East is on the Oakridge siding, to the left of SP7474.  A pair of helper units is on Yard Track 1, ready to cut into the RR-West train on Yard Track 2.  The yard cross-overs were added this past year.  With these switches, helpers can be cut-in within the yard.  Previously, RR-West trains had to occupy the mainline over Salmon Creek, as their helpers were cut in at the RR-West end of the yard. 
     The crossover switches also help the Oakridge Turn (the local freight that serves Oakridge area industries) work without tying up the mainline.  The Oakridge Turn is waiting on Yard Track 3.  The Oakridge Turn comes up to Oakridge from Eugene on one day.  It switches the Pope and Talbot mill at the RR-West end of town and does most of the rest of the Oakridge switching.  It then goes off duty (prototype crews took their eight-hour rest) and returns to duty to return to Eugene.  With mainline authority through Westfir, the Oakridge Turn serves Western Lumber at Westfir—the other major lumber mill around Oakridge.

SP7474E rounds the curve at Westfir.  Sharp eyes might see the beginning of the railroad bridge over the North Fork of the Willamette River underneath the temporary road bed beyond the lumber mill.  The lumber mill structures also are new and will be the subject of future blog posts.

SP7474E rolls through Springfield.  Two new industry structure sets appear here between the railroad and the backdrop.  The green complex is Tilbury Cement, on long-term loan from modeler Harry Bonham.  Harry wrote a two-part article in Railroad Model Craftsman around 1990, featuring plans and the construction of this model.  I am grateful to be the recipient of Harry’s work!  Tilbury Cement has long been on my “must model” list.  Further back is the site of Timber Products/Clear Fir, featured in the previous blog post.

SP7474E rolls through the mainline at the Eugene Depot.  Several new structures can be seen here, including Rubenstein’s Furniture immediately on the left, Oregon Supply beyond the depot, and Pierce Freight further back.  These have been featured in recent blog posts.  The concrete grain elevator (large white silos) for Albers is still under construction.

Journey’s end for SP7474E as it comes to a halt in the Eugene Arrival-Departure Yard.  Trains are staged for the next operating session, awaiting power and cabooses.  SP7474E’s train will become the next 01-EUKFY, a “junk” train headed to Klamath Falls with traffic headed to connections at Ogden, UT, via the Modoc Line and other traffic headed down the Shasta Route mainline toward Dunsmuir and on to the California Central Valley. 

As I look back at the previous year’s photo survey, I see most of the changes in the past year have supported operations.  Recent additions have been structures being changed from taped together kit walls to fleshed-out three dimensional buildings.

Oh yes, one more item is just peeking above the railroad in the background of the last photo—the new Dispatcher’s Panel—the black rectangle.  The panel is mounted to the Dispatcher’s desk which is on wheels.  The desk is wheeled into our exercise room for formal operating sessions.  My railroad was built for operations.  It is staged and ready for the next formal session—this weekend!

1 comment:

  1. Bill,

    Great update! I'm absolutely amazed at how much you have accomplished in five years. And it's always fun to look back and see the changes that have taken place on the railroad.

    The portable dispatcher's panel is a nice touch!