Build Log: Building The CR&N, a first timer's layout.

     Well, first let me say thanks for taking this journey with me. It is with great appreciation I share this with the fine people here on Large Scale Central. This layout will be much more than it would have been without the advice I have received here. It is with the suggestions, advice, input, and constructive criticism I have received here that will guide the construction and shape this railroad. Maybe by starting this article/blog/log I will be motivated to make this a reality.


     The theme for the railroad is based loosely on a real prototype. The Coeur d'Alene Railway and Navigation Company was a small narrow gauge line that started construction in 1886 and was in full operation by 1887. It was the dream child of Daniel C. Corbin and Samuel T. Hauser. They wanted to tap the market for moving and refining silver and lead bearing galena ore from the newly discovered Coeur d'Alene Mining district. The road was leased in 1888 and eventually purchased by Northern Pacific. The narrow gauge locomotives made their last trips down the tracks in the fall of 1897. It's main purpose was to haul ore from the mines to a steamboat connection on Lake Coeur d'Alene. It hauled supplies back up the canyon. It did also have two coaches and provided passenger traffic, usually in mixed trains.


     My railroad is 1:20.3 narrow gauge with a theme of the same nature. This is not a mining railroad in the strictest sense in that it is not owned by a mine and is not used for moving ore from a mine to a mill. It is a general purpose railroad that serves a mining district. The layout will be focused on operations and is primarily point to point, although two reversing loops will allow for continuous running. The area I have to work with is small, 55' X 12.5'.


     My givens for this road are simple. I want a focus on operations. My first priority in design is to have a yard and a wye for operations. I  will have one option for continuous running. I have to have some grade separated crossings. I have to have a terminal mining operation on the opposite end of the line from the yard. Other sidings will have to be present. I will have 8' minimum diameter curves and max 2% grade on any section that must be run uphill. One section maybe steeper, about 3%, but its on one of the loops and can always be run downhill. Thats about it.


    My druthers are to have a station that is a replica of the real CR&N Depot. I would like to include a small water feature. I would also like to have a water tank that catches roof rain water that feeds a drip irrigation system. The yard area will have some sort of car storage and ideally an ontrack engine shed for charging and storing locomotives.


     I will be using mostly a ladder system except the yard which will be bench work. I want a minimum height above ground to be 12". I am using LLagas Creek code 250 aluminum track and turnouts or turnout components. The landscaping will be a combination of rock and composite decking made raised beds. The majority will be natural landscaping, though I might incorporate some artificial rock to make dramatic scene breaks.


     I have an almost blank slate. Besides just cutting down some weeds, I have to remove an old wooden play apparatus and a tire. I will likely do a bit of ground filling in a few spots. Then I can start construction. The goal: have a fully functioning, if not done, layout by July 2017. As suggested by Korm, I will be building it in two stages; first stage will be the yard/wye and upper loop. Then the  balance will make up the second phase.


Looking East


Looking West


The Tonka bulldozer in the first picture is the corner of my deeded property (land given to me by my wife) and in the lower picture the grass area is former front lawn. We moved the fence to match the front of the house giving me an extra 25 feet.


Here is the most current rendition of the layout plan. The grey band at the top represents the house. In the lower left more than likely I will have a mining stamp mill with several sidings. It will serve as the terminus for this end of the operation. Click on the Layout picture to see it all.


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