Sunday, April 7, 2024


The second half of March was a particularly busy time for rail enthusiast events.  The brisk period began with Winterail 2024 in the Corvallis High Auditorium.  That was followed by a mid-March operating session on my SP Cascade Line.  The busy period concluded with the biannual SoundRail in the Puget Sound region.


Winterail is the annual rail photography exposition now held in the Corvallis High Auditorium.  Friend Vic Neves and his wife, Annie, produce the show with the help of a large group of “Roadies.”  The focus is upon excellent rail photography projected onto the auditorium screen and set to music.  Think: “Ken Burns does railroading.” Accompanying the main photography exposition is a railroadianna show with vendors selling railroad items including printed photos, slides, DVDs, railroad timetables, and many other rail-related items.  


Vic and Annie Neves welcome attendees to the 2024 Winterail.


Mike Y. talking with a potential customer at a table featuring both railroad logo clothing and Mike’s extensive collection of historic railroad employee timetables.


Following Winterail, I held a special mid-week operating session for out-of-town visitors plus some of my regular crew.  My regular slot in the monthly area ops rotation had been cancelled due to a schedule conflict with the Willamette Model Railroad Club Swap Meet.  I replaced that with a mid-March session with the intent of capturing several folk from out of town.  I had five visitors from California and Olympia, WA, and augmented with another fifteen of my regular crew.  The result was a lively session with lots of good time and chatter—always a good sign!


A busy time in Springfield and Eugene as both local freight trains and through road-freights work through Springfield.  The Eugene Yard crew is busy on the other side of the aisle.


Action on the mountain grade.  On the upper level a RR-West train works through tunnels 8 and 5.  Down below, another RR-West is working uphill through McCredie Springs.  This train has 89-ft trailer flatcars in it, so the helpers are on the front of the train.


Finally, it was off to the Seattle area for SoundRail 2024.  This biannual event features three days of model railroad operations on layouts ranging from Whidbey Island and the Olympic Peninsula down to Olympia, WA.  The event had a good mix of layouts available and a good crowd of visiting operators (“Boomers”).  I operated on the layouts of Steve Shores, Bill Messecar, and Brian Ferris.


Easton on Steve Shores’ Pacific Shores Railroad.  This represents the southeast end of his railroad, while Westport is on the other side of the backdrop wall and represents the other, northwest, end of the railroad.  I spent much of my time switching this end of the railroad.


North Seward and Zenith (Walters Yard) in the other room occupied by Steve Shores railroad.


My Saturday assignment was on Bill Messecar’s Santa Fe 3rd District LA layout.  The layout represents Santa Fe operations in the eastern portion of the Los Angeles Basin around San Bernardino and Riverside, CA.  Bill is a Master Model Railroader and has been very active in both modeling the Santa Fe and preserving its history.  I have long seen Bill’s by-line on articles and knew of his organizing efforts, so his layout was high on my priority list to see and operate.  I am glad I finally made it.


San Bernardino (right) and Riverside (left) on Bill Messecar’s Santa Fe LA 3rd Division.


Orange packing house at Corona on Bill Messecar’s Santa Fe LA 3rd District railroad.  Steve Shiffman and I teamed up for the Corona Turn.  We were kept busy!


Finally, it was down to Olympia (a good launch point for the return home) to operate on Brian Ferris’ Port Townsend and Southern.  Brian has created a proto-fiction section of the prototype Seattle to Portland joint line built by the Northern Pacific.  Brian has condensed joint line (NP-GN-UP-MLW) operations onto a single-track mainline operated using Timetable and Train Order authority.  The railroad operates between Tacoma and Centralia with a mid-point yard at Chambers Prairie.  I have operated on Brian’s layout previously, but gladly sought another opportunity!


Chambers Prairie on Brian Ferris’ Port Townsend and Southern.


Operations underway on the Port Townsend and Southern.  Rick A. (seated with a blue shirt on the left-center) serves as the system train order operator—a position I held in a previous session.  Craig L. (right) and Jim B. (right-center) run Chambers Prairie yard operations.  Vic N. (center) is switching Plumb—town site with more activity than space. <wink>


Yes, I ended up operating with a lot of my regular crew members as we were all trying to schedule an easy launch for home after our last session in the Puget Sound area.  


It was great to meet with so many fellow model railroad operators from around the West.  I caught up with a number of friends both during the operating sessions and in social time afterwards.  Having great layouts and hosts contributed to a great time.  


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