Whelp, I've done it. I've finally landed on a track plan for my new layout. This plan is the result of months of design and deliberation. It incorporates nearly all of the features I love in model railroading and should provide me many years of enjoyment. I go in-depth into the design of the track plan in the following video:
The plan is simple, but allows an operator or two plenty of operational enjoyment. If I'm not in the mood for operations, I can even sit back with a beer and enjoy running a couple of trains around in circles. I've included a yard, a nice industrial area, and a couple nice, unencumbered areas where I can enjoy my favorite kind of modeling: Scenery.
True to proto-freelance modeling, the towns and industries located on the layout exist in real life. (though I've taken plenty of liberties with the locations and track arrangement to best serve my needs) The town of Usk stands-in for several towns found in the Pend Oreille Valley and just like on the prototype, the yard at Sandpoint is the valley's connection with the rest of the world. I've also included a few key scenic features found on the prototype including the old Great Northern Depot at Sandpoint, the bridges over the Pend Oreille River, Blueslide tunnel near the crossing of Highway 20, and the iconic Box Canyon Bridge.
Let's take a moment to look at the industries represented on the layout and learn about their mostly freelanced (i.e. pretend) histories:
- Lehigh Cement: With operations beginning in 1911, Lehigh Cement is the oldest rail-served industry in the valley, This historic factory once towered over the town of Metaline Falls however, the factory's advanced age along with rail service concerns required the owners to shutter operations at it's original location and build a new, modern plant south at Usk Washington. The factory ships 4-6 2-bay covered hoppers an operating session.
- Ponderay Newsprint Company: Ponderay has been the one of the valley's largest rail customers since it began operations in 1989. The plant ships around 2-3 boxcars loaded with newsprint an operating session and receives boxcars loaded with recycled paper materials as well as tank cars loaded with kaolin and other chemicals on an as-needed basis.
- Bell Lumber and Pole Company: The Bell Lumber and Pole Company has roots in the area dating back to the early 1920's. In 2006 the company decided to expand operations by purchasing the mill in Usk Washington and shifting focus from small diameter lumber to utility pole production. The mill ships around 2 bulkhead flat cars loaded with poles an operating session.
- Riley Creek Lumber: Part of the Idaho Forrest Group, this mill has been supplying America with high quality wood products for decades. Due to a recent lull in the new construction market, the mill only ships 1-2 loads of lumber on center partition cars during most operating sessions.
- Pacific Steel and Recycling: A small employee-owned recycling facility which receives loads of scrap steel and other recyclable products via boxcar and gondola only on occasion.
This plan is sure to change a bit once flextrack meets plywood, but I'm pretty happy with where it stands right now. It was a lot of fun to put together and I can't wait to get started building benchwork!