Phase 1 of the layout started out life as the DC controlled Argentine Central Railway running Atlas Shays of the same roadname. Unfortunately it is too hard to install a DCC decoder in an Atlas Shay so I looked around for an alternative railroad to base phase 1 on. Having purchased two Model Power 2-6-0s and 4-4-0s with DCC and sound in CB&Q with “Burlington Route” logos on the tenders, modeling the Colorado & Southern (C&S) seemed a good idea. My first thought was to switch to the Golden and Ralston Railroad which ran out of Golden from 1877 to 1898. Go to http://denversrailroads.com/GRR.htm for more details of that line. However there was very little information available about that line or its track-age so I decided instead to model the Clear Creek Railroad, a C&S narrow gauge line that ran from Golden to Black Hawk and Idaho Springs until 1941. Thanks to the extensive writing of Harry Brunk in the Narrow Gauge and Short-Line Gazette and others there is a lot of information available about the Clear Creek Railroad, including the Black Hawk track arrangements.
Before I made the change I gave a lot of thought to the Denver’s RailRoads layout and discovered that the D&RGW Aspen Branch continued as a standard gauge line until 1991. However after a lot of track planning I came to the conclusion that the track arrangement did not fit the track that was already planned as part of the original Argentine Central layout. Furthermore I had the four Model Power steam locomotives in the “Burlington Route” roadname and a lot of 1930 era reefers, boxcars, tank cars and stock cars that I really wanted to run.
Consequently I have gone back to the Clear Creek RailRoad (CCRR) layout, running to Black Hawk and Idaho Springs. I have now laid all of the track, including the short branch line from Golden to Idaho Springs and the much longer branch line with a 3-4% grade to Black Hawk. This arrangement will allow me to either run the CCRR as a stand alone C&S 1930s steam only layout or as a branch of the “modern” 1950-60s C&S, ignoring the little fact that the line was removed in 1941. In both cases the Coors Brewery will be a center piece of the railroad, either with billboard Reefers and boxcars or with 40′ piggyback trailers and covered hoppers.