Does your layout have a backstory?

bremner Jan 24, 2020

  1. bremner

    bremner Staff Member

    Three attorneys, Dewey, Cheatem & Howe, acquired a rocky, worthless plot of land on the Pacific Coast just west of Los Angeles in 1897. Trying to figure out how to get tourists to go there, they quickly named it Playa Desnuda. Roads were bad, and it took a day to get there on horse. The Three Amigos won a court case and got a used Central Pacific 4-4-0, a combine, 2 coaches and three boxcars. They then built a steam railroad between Playa Desnuda and Culver City. Oil was discovered and the law firm Hungadunga, Hungadunga, Hungadunga & McCormack took over with the help of J. Cheever Loophole. When they realized they the railroad was a money loser, they sold it to the Southern Pacific after cooking the books with help from H & R Blockhead. The Southern Pacific quickly rolled the Playa Desnuda and Culver City into the Pacific Electric during the Great Merger of 1911.
  2. bremner

    bremner Staff Member

    Your turn...
  3. Shortround

    Shortround TrainBoard Member

  4. Metro Red Line

    Metro Red Line TrainBoard Member

    Here's my layout's fictional backstory:

    In 1940, the Southern Pacific Railroad explored a possible connection from California’s San Joaquin Valley to the central coast via a 100-mile line over the Temblor Range and Coast Range to connect with the Coast Line at San Luis Obispo. The Right-Of-Way was explored, property was acquired and engineering studies were done. But the plan was put on the shelf. In 1966, the idea to build the line was revived, with a double-track line built from Bakersfield going west to the town of Cortes, at the foot of the Temblor Range. But construction was suspended due to financial and legal challenges.

    After the Southern Pacific merged with the Union Pacific Railroad in 1996, the idea to complete the line was revived yet again, this time taking to account the heavy amount of rail traffic through the Tehachapi Loop, which is shared with the BNSF Railway. The sheer amount of intermodal and manifest traffic through the loop into Southern California would create a rail traffic bottleneck, so the route from Bakersfield to San Luis Obispo would allow trains to use the lesser-used Coast Line into the Los Angeles area.


    In 2006, the Union Pacific picked up where the SP left off and the line was named the Vallealmar Subdivision (Valle al Mar, meaning “Valley to the Sea” in Spanish, as the California geography is filled with names of Spanish origin, owing its historical ties to Mexico and Spain). In 2010, the first revenue trains rolled through the tracks for the first time. It was the realization of a 70 year-old dream of a railroad, finally fulfilled in the 21st century.

    The line is also served by the CalTrans-owned, Amtrak-run trial passenger line, Golden Poppy which links the Pacific Surfliner and San Joaquins trains. If successful, the former would either terminate in Bakersfield or the latter would terminate in San Luis Obispo, or both lines could possibly run as a through service from San Diego to Sacramento, providing coastal and regional linkages to the under-construction California High Speed Rail project.
  5. gjslsffan

    gjslsffan Staff Member

    As a matter of "opinion" yes. While there were 3 Lawyers involved with the underdevelopment of the Acme Red River & Northern (ARRN), many, many more Lawyers were responsible for it's demise. Ikan was a lawyer responsible for western continental development, Bhee, was another that tried to guide the fledgling ARRN past its first 10 miles of current development. Lawyer Bouht, represented the Acme plant serviced solely by the ARRN, in relation to the hundreds of law suites filed by Wile E. Coyote
    The Acme plant west of Quanah, was nevertheless most unfortunately, systematically involved in hundreds of mus-representation cases. These cases ultimately resulted in the common carrier known as the Acme Red River & Northern (ARRN) being absorbed into the new Quanah Acme & Pacific (QA&P). That charter endeavored to persevere in a South Westwardly expansion, to rid themselves of the limitations from the a fore mentioned Acme debacles. The crowning achievement has, here to fore never been realized, but the saga continues.
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  6. porkypine52

    porkypine52 TrainBoard Member

    The INDIANA RAILWAY started in the late part of the 1800's. First lines were westward from Cincinnati towards St. Louis, and northwards thru Indianapolis towards Chicago. Along the way coalfields were opened up in Indiana and Illinois. There was interchange with N & W, Southern, and C & O in Cincinnati. The L & N interchanged with The INRY at Louisville. Most of all this interchange was coal. At Jeffersonville, IN [across the Ohio River from Louisville] a huge barge loading operation was operated by an INRY subsidiary. This was mainly [at first] for L & N eastern Ky mined coal. The INRY has two PRIORITY/HOTSHOT trains, each day in each direction. West from Cincinnati to St Louis and north to Chicago. And east and south back from St Louis and Chicago. They WILL NOT be delayed.
    There have been rumors the diesel Salesmen have INRY in their sights, but NOTHING has come of it. Try as they may, little or NO interest has been shown by the motive power department or the whole INRY for that matter. STEAM is still KING and will remain that way for a long time.
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  7. Tomkat

    Tomkat TrainBoard Member

    I model a freelance bridge RR the Missouri & Arkansas Railway used by the CB&Q & MKT. The location is in Eastern Missouri. The line starts out at Old Monroe Mo. On the CB&Q next to the Cuivre River at MO. State Highway 79, then goes west to Ethlyn then Moscow Mills on to Hawk Point Mo. From Hawk Point the main line splits with one branch goes West trough Truxton then Wellsville on to Mexico Mo to meet up with the Wabash / Norfolk & Western line. The other branch swings south along MO. State Highway 47 where it crosses the old Wabash / Norfolk & Western RR line near Warrenton Mo. This line continues south thru Missouri Wine Country to connect with MKT near Marthasville Mo. by State Highway 94. Since this is "My" railroad most places will have the "flavor" of this area but may not be perfect to the prototype. Time is pre Burlington Northern (1970). The location & time frame gives me a lot of room of the type of motive power I can use plus pre-merger freight cars from so many different Railroads from all over the country. As with many railroads built in the late1800’s they never reached all the way as planned. So they never made it all the way to Arkansas.

    #1 This will be a point to point RR built on Hollow-core doors (about $24 ea) along two walls, so it will be in sections.

    #2 It's going to be less track, no large yards, no switch machines, open staging, & simple engine service area.

    #3 Just a few small towns with one or two sidings.

    #4 More open scenery between towns.

    #5 Interchange with the Norfolk & Western on the West end, MKT on the South end & the CB&Q on the East end.
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  8. jpwisc

    jpwisc TrainBoard Member

    Entirely prototype based:
    My layout was the Northern Pacific’s Skally Line. It was the NP’s line from St. Paul to Duluth, MN. It crosses the GN’s competing line (the Hinckley Subdivision) in Hinckley, MN.

    When the BN merger came about they called the line the Amber Subdivision for the largest customer, Amber Milling. BN didn’t need two parallel routes, so they diced up the Amber Sub and later sold it off. KBN bought the portion I model. It became the St. Croix Valley Railroad. About 12 years ago the main bridge on the line suffered a catastrophic failure. While the repairs were being done, the Skally crews took the liberty of painting the lines main engine back into NP colors. The paint scheme was applied to 4 engines total. Other engines on the line are supplied by ILSX (who also has a share in KBN).

    Today BNSF still operates the Hinckley Subdivision and interchanges with the Skally in Hinckley.
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  9. rhensley_anderson

    rhensley_anderson TrainBoard Supporter

    East Central Indiana
    HO Scale Railroad

    The ECI has been built and rebuilt several times (see Timeline). There have also been times when there has been no movement at all. Now the railroad has begun to move back in time to be able to run NYC, PRR and PC locomotives and cars.

    The ECI is a 1970s short line operating out of Anderson in North Central Indiana southward over the ex-New York Central (CCC&StL) Michigan Division /PC North Vernon Secondary purchased from Penn Central. The ECI runs through Emporia, Rushville, Greensburg and terminates in the Southern Indiana town of Westport.

    Connections are made with the CIW (Central Indiana & Western) at Anderson, and the N&W at Rushville, with a secondary connection with PC Greensburg. The ECI has rights between Anderson and Westport under control of the ECI Dispatcher working out of the South Anderson Yards.

    The majority of customers are small industrial companies (pipes, plastics, autoparts, etc.) as well as several heavy grain operations and one small stone quarry sending occasional shipments off line to dealers nationwide from their quarry near Westport.

    Although the line is not truly prosperous, it does make money and has an outstanding Service Facilities with a maintenance crew devoted to rebuild and maintenance with tender loving care. This is attested to by the Ex-NYC E7 that has been placed into service pulling an Excursion Train consisting of four refurbished passenger cars from Anderson to Westport monthly during summer months and the NYC GP7, and RS3 that have been put into service on the railroad. Also, thee is the 0-8-0 that does some freight work on the ECI. The ECI GP 38-2 is now handling the grain operation at Westport.
    ECI 3829
    With its small but dedicated staff of employees, the ECI tends to reflect the sense of optimism found in its headquarters city of Anderson as to a solid future in providing high quality service to its clients as well as presenting rail service in a favorable light to more people.
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  10. RailMix

    RailMix TrainBoard Member

    Interesting variety of histories ranging from hilarious tongue in cheek accounts to totally prototypical might have beens. Mine is sort of midway between. It weaves its way in and out of a factual history of the area's railroads with a fair sprinkling of jokes I couldn't resist along the way.

    In 1878, the 3 foot gauge Port Huron and North Western began building north from Port Huron, Michigan to Sand Beach (now Harbor Beach), followed by a second line that pushed west from Port Huron. At the same time, a second crew was building east from Saginaw. The two lines met at Marlette, and shortly after completion, the railroad was sold to the Flint and Pere Marquette, which, along with the Chicago and West Michigan and Detroit, Grand Rapids and Western, became the Pere Marquette on January 1st, 1900.

    Meanwhile, the citizens of Hicksville, a farm town that was bypassed by the PH&NW, raised money and began construction of their own narrow gauge railroad, the Pigeon Creek, Nutbush and Hicksville. While neither Nutbush or Pigeon Creek was rebuilt after the thumb fire of 1881. Hicksville survived and the railroad connected with the Green River Eastern at Erehwon.
    on the other hand, Otis and Morris Van Swearingman, the owners of the GRE, more forward thinking, had planned a standard gauge railroad from the outset, which required that a transload facility be built at Erehwon.

    Shortly after the sale of the PH&NW to the Flint and Pere Marquette, work began on conversion to standard gauge, leaving the PCN&H as the only narrow gauge line in the thumb. By 1900, the Van Swearingman brothers had bought the cash strapped three footer and begun standard gauging it. Both railroads were merged into a new company, the Huron Central. In 1905, the Van Swearingmans took over yet another railroad, the Yale, Omard, Kingston and Lakeport (reporting marks YOKL, slogan "Everywhere That's Nowhere"), which has become a wholly owned subsidiary of the HC.

    Unlike the Detroit, Bay City and Western and the Pontiac, Oxford and Northern, other railroads built in the thumb, the Huron Central has survived.
    In the 2000's, Huron Central management made an agreement with Huron and Eastern to operate its freight business, while the Huron Central now concentrates on its steam and vintage diesel passenger business, which has its roots in the railroad's failure to dieselize in the 50's and 60's.
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2020
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  11. r_i_straw

    r_i_straw Staff Member

    The Oyster Creek and Western was incorporated in 1934 by a group of mislead investors hoping to become successful rail barons by buying up used equipment cast off from the struggling railroads during the great depression. They bought an abandoned Missouri Pacific line that ran from Sugar Land west to a connection with the Santa Fe at Orchard, Texas. They intended to keep building west to somewhere along the Pacific coast, probably crossing the boarder with Mexico to a deep water port on the Gulf of California. Of course they failed miserably and the property was put on the auction block. A family of dust bowl Oklahoma residents heading for Matagorda on the Gulf of Mexico to try their luck at becoming salt water fisherman stumbled upon the auction and made the only bid, wining with whatever pocket change they could scrounge together. Cletus and Buford Scurlocht became the proud owners of a real shortline railroad. With the extended family doing all the staffing for little or no pay while living in the parked passenger cars, they actually were able to make a profit during WWII and kept the concern running. When traffic dried up after the war they switched to running a tourist railroad and pioneered dinner trains and rolling party events.





  12. Grey One

    Grey One TrainBoard Supporter

    The Grey and Grandure started as a short line / connecting road in the Grandure Valley located somewhere near the 'Great Northern' and 'Canadian Pacific' railroads. In my 'world the GN took over the UP.
    The main industry has 'evolved' over the years. 'Mystrium' which comes in several forms and spellings was 'discovered' in the region with specialized properties. This allows for a variety of freight cars and industrial spurs on the layout.
    Passenger Traffic - Or, how I justify Shinkansen
    What are they doing on the layout? The GN having acquired UP looked around to see what else they could do. So, with the excess revenue now generated by their better and more nicely run trackage they realized they needed better transport for people.
    At one point the GandG was also going to be moving wine and beer but since I no longer drink I have decided to explore the world of coffee. I will have a special interchange yard to accommodate incoming and outgoing coffee related cars. Maybe with 3D printers I can even make a coffee moving shinkansen car.

    Background to the Back Story
    I have significant visual limitations and have alway sknown I could never match the detail and accuracy of most model railroaders so I came up with a fictitious product to mine / drill / quarry / process.
    Also due to my vision the layout is more about appearance than any level of historical / realistic accuracy. It can't be. I don't have the capacity. So, most of the scenery including structures will be based on positive / negative space and the 'Eagle Eye View'.
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  13. Kitbash

    Kitbash TrainBoard Supporter

    As a modeler that grew up exposed to and loving the Chesapeake and Ohio, it was a natural for me to model when I took up the hobby. After years of arm-chair reading and advice, I decided to focus on authenticity of rolling stock and steam era. Being a "lone-wolf" modeler I knew I would be constrained with time and would have to pick/choose my battles. So, in lieu of spending an inordinate amount of time researching and getting picky and trying to replicate a certain prototype stretch of geography and railroad, I decided to use my own fictitious division of the C&O that ran due west/northwest away from Charlottesville, to "Albemarle City". The name "Albemarle" is taken from Albemarle County, VA where Charlottesville is located. I spent quite a bit of time there in my teens and young adulthood and always loved the country. That's the admiral's summary of how the Albemarle Division came into being.

    For the current edition (version 3) of the "Albemarle Division", I have used some track arrangements I scarfed from the C&O Historical Society's data base of valuation maps showing all divisions and general track layouts of the C&O. The "Albemarle Division" receives trains from Charlottesville to the east (not modeled) and the modeled portion sends them to central West Virginia with interchange with the Virginian and NYC. Those interchanges did take place in the C&O in various coal fields of WV.

    Good thread.
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