Friday, March 29, 2019


The primary means of train control (dispatching) I plan to use on my SP Cascade Line will be Centralized Traffic Control (CTC)--once I install the required electronics and create a CTC panel.  CTC was installed on the climb up over the Cascades in 1955.  Prior to that, Timetable and Train Orders (TT&TO) ruled traffic movements.  I retain the objective to use TT&TO for at least some sessions at a future date. A physical reminder of TT&TO operation will be the Train Order Offices placed roughly every other siding up the hill.  Indeed, my selection of which siding/stations to model on my railroad featured T.O. Offices. In spite of building my railroad with the intent of using CTC for traffic control, I still have an active interest in the infrastructure that supported its predecessor (TT&TO), including the Train Order Offices.

Cascade Line modelers are blessed by a full set of company structure kits to represent the remote "villages" that supported Train Order stations.  A typical station had a Train Order Office, three houses for the shift Train Order operators, and housing for the track maintenance section gang and their foreman. Many of the T.O. Office stations also had a signal maintainer.  All of these structures plus miscellaneous support structures are available as kits from ALW Lines:  With such a rich resource available, I just "had to" model these villages, even though they were mostly gone by the 1960s.  Treat this one as modelers license.  

ALW Line kits serve to model Cascade Summit, Cruzatte and Wicopee.  I will need to model the McCredie Springs T.O. Office separately, as it followed a different plan.  The three offices I did model started the same when built for the SP in 1926, but a freight section was added to the Cascade Summit station soon after the line was opened.  Fortunately, ALW Lines can supply a structure kit for this extension as well.  

As with the tool sheds, I prepared for construction by priming the laser-cut wood pieces.  For the T.O. Offices, I found it convenient to apply the peel and stick trim pieces to the sides before painting and subsequent assembly.  I applied a coat of white primer to both sides of the structure pieces.  The interior surfaces were painted with an off-white paint, while the floor received a basic brown paint.  The exterior was painted with my dwindling supply of PolyScale PRR Buff-- a good match to SP's Colonial Yellow structure color.  

Cascade Summit Train Order Office sides painted "Colonial Yellow."

Once painted, I began assembling the walls, using the floor as a core.  I glued one or two sides to the assembly at a time, letting the joints set before moving on to another wall.  I held walls square with weights.  The final set of walls were held to in place with rubber bands.

Train Order Offices under construction.  Cascade Summit, on the right, has all wall sections in place, with the final sections held with rubber bands.

The original ALW Lines kits used laser-cut peel-and-stick shingles. Later production, exemplified by my Cascade Summit kit, feature laser-cut shingle roof panels.  These are much easier to install--certainly much faster. They also look quite good.  Kudos to Bruce Barney for improving upon an already good kit!  

Train Order Office roofing.  The "standard" office in the foreground uses the old peel-and-stick shingles.  The roof panels have guide lines etched on them to help locate the shingle rows. The Cascade Summit office in the background has the more recent full roof panel shingles.  One side has been applied with contact cement and the other side is upside down on the left, ready to be installed.  

As I completed each T.O. Office structure, I placed it on the layout where it will be planted.  Most sites will require additional footings or even a full set of walls below the station. This is particularly the case for Wicopee, which literally was hanging on the edge of the mountainside.

Wicopee Train Order Office on site.  I need to build support walls to raise the office to railhead height.

Cruzatte Train Order Office.  

Cascade Summit Train Order Office.  

Whether I leave the Train Order Offices in place on the railroad for more modern year operations is yet to be determined.  Meanwhile, I can prepare their sites on the railroad.  Even if I remove them, the T.O. Offices still leave footprints of where they once stood.

Sunday, March 17, 2019


The annual rail photography exposition known as Winterail was held at the Corvallis High School Performance Arts theater on Saturday, March 17.  This was the 41st edition of this late-winter classic, now held here in Oregon after decades in Stockton, California. Winterail spawned a number of similar events around the country, but it will forever be known as the first such exposition.

Without having the emphasis of a major anniversary year such as last year's celebration (, I would rate this year's edition as "average."  It had highs and lows.  Fortunately, the highs were more than sufficient to keep one coming back.

Winterail began with a large railroadiana show in the morning.  Lots of books, photos and other materials were offered for sale.  This always has been an important part of the event.  My library and reference material collection grew over the years from items obtained during this part of the event.

Railroadiana sales held in the Corvallis High cafeteria.  Author Dave Houston is in the foreground selling his new book.

As noted, friend Dave Houston just had a new book published by Four Ways West Publications:  "Southern Pacific--1960s to 1990s, Volume One - Sacramento to Sparks, The Story Behind The Picture."  Dave's extensive captions describe much more of the tale illustrated by the pictures selected from his collection (most shot by him).  

Book Cover for Dave Houston's new book.

As with so much of Winterail for me and others, the event provided a focus for us to see and catch up with old friends from past railroad events and associations.  Indeed, I spent part of the late afternoon catching up more with Dave Houston.

Vic and Annie Neves introduce Winterail 2019 in the Corvallis High Auditorium.

The "main event" of Winterail is a series of photo shows set to music and narration.  Afternoon highlights included the lead-off show on Tehachapi by Scott Allen Sparks. That was followed by a twenty minute excerpt from a video produced this past year by Catenary Video Productions: "Southern Pacific's San Francisco Peninsula Route."  This video produced from movie footage of the mid 1950s features lots of late steam-era action in what had been my old "stomping grounds" from my (paid) working life.  A Cascade Line note on the Catenary Video Productions SP DVDs:  the first two volumes in this five-volume series feature the Southern Pacific Shasta Route.  The second volume concentrates on Oregon and the modern mainline climb over the Cascades.  I just replaced my VHS tape copies with the more useable DVD format.

SP San Francisco Peninsula Route DVD.

Other afternoon programs included a look at railroading in North Dakota, including the depths of winter, a "Missouri Scrapbook," and "Steam on the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad."  The Oregon Coast Scenic program featured photography from a pair of steam excursions on the railroad, including extensive use of a photo drone. This is a developing art form, distinct from more conventional fixed photography.  This show, as with several others could benefit from editing--a reminder to all that "less is more."  Just because one has the photos or footage does not mean all should be shown. Keep the audience wanting more. Repetitive shots and angles get tired very quickly, no matter how beautiful the subject matter.  

The evening program (after the dinner break) led off with friends Charles and David Lange's look at "Three Generations of Railroad Photography," which featured their and Charles' father's railroad photography. The Lange's well-earned their evening lead-off spot with three distinct looks at rail photography.  A Jim Boyd photo tribute remembered Jim's work and impact on the railfan community.  Thank you to Mike Schafer and Craig Willett for putting this show together.  

The highlight of Winterail 2019 for me was Ted Benson and Tom Taylor's "Feather River Roots -- Discovering the Western Pacific, 1965--1970."  I have been a fan of Ted's work for some time and was quite familiar with a number of the photos used from their use in various publications.  Still, it was great to see these images again in the context of Ted and Tom's development as railroad photographers.  Yes, I want to see more!

A show on wintertime operations by the Union Pacific over the Blue Mountains in northeastern Oregon completed the good to great shows for me.

Winterail remains a great rail photography event.  It is clear a new generation of photographers with access to wonderful new technology (digital cameras, video, photo-drones) is expanding the art.  Meanwhile, there remains a place for more classical presentations.  Winterail attempts to feature both.