Sunday, January 7, 2024


I built my SP Cascade Line as an operating model railroad.  I am happy to report that it has fulfilled that dream.  Each month I host a group of up to twenty fellow model railroaders to help bring my vision alive.  Well, it is not quite monthly, as my beginning-of-the-month slot in the local operations rotation produces a number of schedule conflicts.  Still, I catch as many of those slots as I can.  


The “70s” in this post’s title refers to the number of formal operating sessions, beginning with Session One in June, 2015.  The fourth formal operating session on the railroad was accomplished in late August, 2015, as part of the Operations SIG operating sessions affiliated with the NMRA National Convention held in Portland.  


Just prior to the most recent session, I reviewed photos from that event as I sought images of my Oakridge-based friend, Bob Sanchez, who just passed away.


From the August 2015 operating session for the NMRA PDX2015 Convention, Bob Sanchez (right) explains operations at Oakridge to Scott C.  Don M. and Dennis D. are working the Oakridge Turn in the distance.


Bob was an avid rail-buff and a great help and host to many of us seeking more information at Oakridge.  Bob owned the former Lane Electric warehouse near the former SP depot site in Oakridge.  He went on to fill much of that warehouse with a marvelous N-scale layout.  In August, 2015, Bob was an invaluable companion and helper for me with a range of NMRA National Convention duties.  Rest In Peace, Bob.


That photo trip down memory lane reminded me just how far my railroad has come since then.  Those early operating sessions were quite raw and performed on a railroad that was even rawer.  I was helped along the way by a number of folk, several of whom passed away in the past few years.  I miss the input from railroaders Tom Dill and Rick Kang, and the cheerful support and advice from Chuck Clark.  


Fortunately, I have a large crew of people who have stayed with me through the development of my railroad and have been joined by still more.  Many of those regulars were present at the just-completed 71st operating session.  The long term regulars have been joined by newer acquaintances—so many that I routinely must cap the crew size and place late responders to the crew call on the reserve list.


Photos from this recent operating session focus on the people—something I have learned to concentrate upon as the real treasure of these events.


At the core of every successful operation is the Dispatcher.  Dave H. held this position as he often does.


The Eugene Arrival-Departure Yard was managed by Craig L. (left) and assisted by his Switcher, Pat L.  Pat just joined us in Oregon, but is no stranger to me or to operations.


At the RR-East end of the Eugene depot area, East Switcher Joe B. works with a car in the foreground, while Eugene City Switcher Mike L. works the industrial trackage now found between the main lines and the wall for this pass-through area.


The full Eugene Yard crew consists of (left to right) West Switcher John B, East Switcher Joe B, Yardmaster Rick A, and Eugene City Switcher Mike L.


The “B” Springfield Turn started the session with its work half completed.  “Dog-catching” this job were Brigg F. and Jeroen G.


After Brigg and Jeroen completed work with the Springfield-B, they returned to Eugene Yard and picked up the Marcola Turn which they are working here.


The other local freight was the Oakridge Turn, with Mike B. and Keith K. as crew.  They are working the RR-East end of Oakridge, having just run around a covered hopper that they will soon set-out at the sand house location (paper plan-view attached to the yard surface).


Bill M. and Bob L. formed a road crew, seen here at the upper staging at Crescent Lake.


Mike W. (left) has left his helper, piloted by Mark K. (right) at Cascade Summit.  He is getting track authority to proceed to Crescent Lake and the end of his run.


With other trains at Wicopee, Mike L. (center) is copying track authority after meeting a train crewed by Mike W. (right).  Rodger C. (left) controls the helper locomotive entrained in the RR-West train on the siding.


Having helped a train from Oakridge up to Cascade Summit, Rodger C. returns “light” to Oakridge.  He is seen here at Wicopee.


Bill M. (left) and Bob L. (center) work uphill at McCredie Springs, assisted by the mid-train helper run by Mark K. (right).


Emerik S. is Engineer for the LABRF—a hot train from Los Angeles to Portland (Brooklyn Yard for the SP)—seen here at Westfir.  Jim M. is his Conductor.  Later on, we needed to send Emerik and Jim out solo on separate trains to keep the traffic rolling.


An important feature of my standard operations is the mid-session lunch break.  Keeping the lunch break local to my basement maintains continuity while providing important rest and social interaction.  Yes, we have to squeeze tables into various spaces around the layout, but it is clear that a good time takes place.


Although there is much yet to be done on my railroad, it has settled into a comfortable pattern of operations.  This 71stoperating session presented quite a contrast to the initial efforts back in the summer of 2015.  Those early sessions set a solid foundation upon which we built a regular operating group.

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