Saturday, 13 September 2014
This post is a bit 'off topic' but no, I'm not moving away from the NSWGR prototype or away from HO scale.
Currently, my wife and I are on our first major retirement trip to catch up with friends in the US and Canada as well as visiting some places that we haven't seen in our earlier sojourns to this part of the world. So I thought I would post a few images of two of the 1:1 scale US railroads we have encountered to date.
The railroad currently operates a mixed diesel fleet of GE locomotives from the 1950s and Alcos from the 1960s hauling a number of restored passenger coaches. Their literature also states that they run two restored Baldwin steam locomotives but these were not present when we visited. All I saw was this old Mikado looking like it has seen better days and is probably providing spares for the operational locomotives.
However, what sets the WP&YRR apart is its engineering in a very harsh environment. The track hangs on the side of a substantial valley with grades up to 3.9%, numerous bridges and a few tunnels. Perhaps the most dramatic bridge encountered, in the 40 mile round trip that we did, is the one shown in the photo. It is no longer in use with the trestles and probably the steelwork in very poor condition. However, I suspect that it remained operational until the 1990s at least. What sets it apart, in my view, is the apparent lightness of the steel structure. It's a great example of the versatility of the steel truss design.
If one were to attempt to model accurately the mountains dominating the Columbia River in this area in HO scale, the mountains would need to be somewhere between 10 and 30 feet high with the odd peak rising higher still. That's a lot of Styrofoam! The photo opposite, taken just west of the township of Hood River in Oregon, actually shows a BNSF train moving on the northern bank of the river. It appears only as a thin multi-coloured line just above the water line.
I once wrote about the concept of 'modelling the ordinary' but on the Columbia River, the 'ordinary' is spectacular.
Next stop is the Rocky Mountains in Canada.
Obviously, physical work on Philip's Creek has been temporarily suspended while we are away. However, a copy of XTrackCAD loaded on the laptop has allowed me to work on the plan for the upper level of the layout. This may be getting ahead of myself as I haven't yet finished the Halls Creek Bridge scenery or started the transition and helix that will enable an upper level, but hey, there's nothing like thinking ahead!