Large Scale Central

Durango & Jasper track plan and build

First time poster, been lurking for a while. Am about to get started laying track on a modest size logging/mining 1:20.3 railroad, the Durango & Jasper (sounds more railroady then Donna & Jim :-)).

As part of relandscaping our new house to be more drought tolerant (California before this winter), we decided to add a raised planter surrounding a couple of sitting areas just outside of our dining room/bedroom. The train will be in the raised planter to minimize knee wear and tear and make it easier for all to see.

Here’s the landscape architect’s plan for the backyard, with her vague track plan (not the real one) inside the planter:

Landscape design for planter

The left circular area will have a mine and sawmill, the right a town, the middle will have a logging area with spar tree.

Here’s a view of the finished planter (with rough grading for track):

Planter just after construction

Here’s the track plan:

Durango & Jasper track plan

I’m using code 250 aluminum track and turnouts from Llagas Creek. Strictly battery power using Airwire.

There are a few producers/consumers of traffic here: logging area to sawmill, sawmill to town, mine to stamp mill in town. However this is a pretty small layout and I anticipate a fair bit of traffic to be going around the ~120’ mainline.

I’ll post some pictures of a cardboard mockup of the track on the raw dirt soon. Things are still a bit fungible so any comments are super welcome.


Welcome Jim. You’ll find lots of fine folks here. You have a beautiful location for a layout and the view from the porch will be awesome. I can’t provide any useful feedback on the track plan as I am in the planning stage myself, but there are many experienced modelers around that will give you sound advice. Enjoy the site and don’t be bashful about asking questions. I look forward to watching your layout progress and post lots of pictures. The motto around here is: without pictures, it didn’t happen.(

Very interesting concept. I will be watching as it develops . . . . . (

Here are some pictures after I’ve added a couple of tons of granite rocks and laid down cardboard strips for the track to help get my thoughts in order.

The “left” side of the track plan is the Jasper region that includes a sawmill and a mine. Here’s the sawmill area (which will be between the 2 tracks: logs in on one side, cut boards out on the other):

Sawmill area

Behind the sawmill is the mine. The track will be on a trestle next to the cliff, with another more rickety trestle built above for the mine ore cars to come out to dump into the real train ore cars:


The mine is vaguely inspired by an old HO railroad featured in Model Railroader, designed and built by John Olsen in the 80’s I think:

John Olsen inspiration for the Jasper mine

The access tracks to the sawmill have 2 bridges over them, one for the mainline (on the left in this picture) and one for access to the mine:

Bridges over the sawmill tracks

I’ll post some pictures of the rest of the layout as imagined soon.

Welcome aboard Jim. Great concept with the raised beds, especially for us old guys. I’ll be watching.

Very Nice!

That will make a fantastic kick back and relax RR!

My kind of RR !

Welcome to LSC Jim !

Fresh meat … everyone stand back while the alphas feast. Just kidding, of course. As far as anyone knows, we’re a nice respectable family here. (

You’ve got a great start on what has the makings of a fine layout. As a matter of fact, your cardboard mock-up looks better than some folks’ finished track work. I think you’ll be quite happy with the Llagas Creek code 250 aluminum. I’m using mostly code 215 now, but I have a few hundred feet of code 250 left over from a previous layout that I am also incorporating.

There are lots of really helpful people here on this site so don’t be bashful about asking questions. If they don’t know the answer, they’ll make something up!

Welcome aboard,


Looking gud ! (

That mine with the trackwork on a trestle is fantastic ! (

Thanks all! I’m sure I’ll have tons of questions. So far I’m very much enjoying the build topics here. Looking forward to getting into scratchbuilding.

Here are a few more pix of the rest of the (cardboard) plan. I’m working with Daniel Smith to lay the track and if the wind is with us we’ll have most of it done by next weekend (!). Wish me luck!

Here’s a shot of the logging area. There are 2 tracks here for loads and empties, the spar tree will be on the near side of the logging tracks. The Y will let me turn engines and (very short) trains. A bit hard to see but there’s a curved turnout that leads to the 2 logging tracks. Under the Y is a short tunnel, still haven’t put the top on waiting for track to be there.

Logging area and Y

On the “right” side of the plan is the city of Durango. There’s a curved trestle planned for that crossover.

City of Durango

Another view of Durango

Those PVC pipes (for drip irrigation) have mostly been moved out of the way (after I figured out where the track was going to go).

Minimum mainline diameter is 10’ but most is 12’. The majority of turnouts are #4, manually thrown, with switchstands, again from Llagas Creek.


Looks like a good plan. and will be a very nice layout. I like the idea of the cardboard strips, might use that idea to help me figure out my plan.


Thanks for the photos, going to be a very nice layout. Hope you keep use up dated.

Nice plans and pictures, Jim! I sent a PM your way.

  • Mike

Hey Michael, left you a PM back. Thanks all for the kind words. Daniel Smith and I are starting to lay track tomorrow. Pictures will follow soon!

I have to say it is fun to go into work and say: Sorry guys, I’m taking a few days off to go work on my railroad. :slight_smile:

Ok now that you have been welcomed here , You have to stop with all the instant progress, you are making some of us look really bad by within a few days of posting you have mock trackwork laid and way WAY too much progress. UST KIDDING I wish I could do the same thing but oh well keep the pictures and the progress reports coming looks to be a great RR when its all finished. Welcome to the best RR site around!

edited to say, Devoning is not in this guys blood !!!

Pete I see that. We need to either keep them 2 apart, so Jim doesn’t catch Devon’s affliction, or we need to get them together, so Devon learns to bust things out.

Well, guys, I feel kind of bad to tell you that I just posted about a year of work :-(. I’m sure the pace will slow down.

However, it won’t slow down today, because Daniel Smith was here and work has begun on laying track. Here are a few pix of the redwood roadbed laying loosely in place for the 2 big loops at either end. The track you see near Durango is just sitting there for fun, not attached. So far so good.

This is the loop around the mine and sawmill in the Jasper area.

The loop around Jasper

That’s Daniel taking a picture of the loop around the town of Durango.

The loop around Durango, with Daniel in the background

I couldn’t resist putting a log car on the track (even though the track is just loosely sitting there). That’s my one and only weathered skeleton log car (a Bachmann).

Sorry, had to put a log car on there for fun...

This turnout feeds into the eventual stamp mill at the center of Durango. That trestle you see is something that Daniel had laying around. There will be a trestle there but it will be slightly different.

This turnout feeds into a stamp mill eventually


Look’n just great ! (

Nice progress… (

Jim obviously has all his ducks in a row here.

Coming along quite nicely, Jim.