D&RGW • C&S • CB&Q • UP • AT&SF • CRI&P + SP • MP • WP

Welcome to the Denver RailRoads Blog Page covering

N Scale Model Railroading and the prototype Railroads that called Denver home

Phases 1 to 5 July 2018 update

Phase 1 – the Clear Creek RR is progressing very well. All track is laid. All turnout motors are installed. Golden branch is completely wired. Scenery work has started on the canyons west of Golden. Ballasting of Golden yard is about to commence. Golden Station building is complete and two other kits have been painted and are ready for gluing. Two new control panels for Black Hawk and Idaho Springs are ready and awaiting artwork.

Phase II – the Main Line from Grand Jct Loop to D&RGW North Yard. All track laying and BUS wiring is complete, and ready for testing. Main line point motors are yet to be installed. East Denver Belt Line – all track has been laid and most of the turnouts will be controlled by Caboose Industries ground throws.

Phase III – Denver Union Terminal (DUT). Rod continues to lay track. Both of the scissors crossings are installed and most of the main tracks. It is beginning to look very impressive due to the length of station trackage.

The following sections are now part of Phase III:

(1) UP/CB&Q 23rd St Shops & D&RGW/CB&Q Coach Yards – connects with the Denver Union Terminal. Work will be started once the DUT trackage is complete.

(2) C&S Rice Yard – connects with the Denver Union Terminal. Work will be started once the DUT trackage is complete.

(3) UP Wynkoop St Branch – Gary has stated both the cork roadbed and the track laying at the North end of the Denver Union Terminal.

4) D&RGW Burnham Shops – this section will not be started until phase 4 and the rest of Phase 3 has been completed.

Major surgery to Phase 3 & 4 Benchwork modules:

Most of module 5 (the corner section with the passenger Y and loop trackage and industries within the loop) has been bolted onto module 6, which is now a little too heavy for one man to lift. The ends of the D&RGW and C&BQ coach yards, which commenced in module 4 and ends on module 5 have now been cut away and bolted onto modules 2, 3 & 4. This is a two man lift.

Phase IV – is now divided into the following sections:

(1) D&RGW North Yard – most of the North Yard track has been laid. As this module bridges the Phase II and East Denver Belt Line track with the Phase III Denver Union Terminal trackage, special trackwork for bridging the gaps will be required.  Kato extended track pieces are currently favoured as the solution between:

  • Modules 8 & 9 (Phases 1 & 2)
  • Modules 6 & 7 (Phases 2 & 4)
  • Modules 4 & 5 (Phases 3 & 4)
  • Modules 1 & 2 (Phase 3)

(2) D&RGW North Yard Industries and trackside buildings.

(3) UP 36th Yard – adjacent to the D&RGW North Yard.

Phase V – the D&RGW Main Line from Denver to Glenwood Springs and a branch line to Craig.  Peter has laid all of the cork roadbed for this phase and I have almost finished the Gore Canyon scenery (see an earlier blog). Track laying for this phase will begin after phases 1 and 4 are complete.

Phase One Reset !!!

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.

Work in progress update — all phases

Phase 1 – the Aspen Branch is being extended to a foam sub-roadbed up above the 7 track return loop. Peter has laid 50% of the cork roadbed. Turnout wiring for the 7 track return loop is being tested and upgraded and connected to a new control panel. Some tracks on the Coors branch may be removed to simplify operations. It is hoped that this phase will soon be operational – again – and work can begin on painting and ballasting the tracks. Note that when the wiring testing is completed this phase can operate as a stand alone railroad.

Phase II – the Main Line from Grand Jct Loop to Denver Yard. All track laying and wiring is complete, but requires testing, which cannot be done until the wiring upgrade for Phase I is complete.

Phase III – Denver Union Terminal. Rod continues to lay track. Both of the scissors crossings are installed and three of the very long main tracks. It is beginning to look very impressive due to the length of station trackage.

Phase IV –is divided into the following sections:

(1) East Denver Belt Line – John & Bruce have almost completed laying the cork roadbed. Track laying should start soon.

(2) D&RGW North Yard & Industries – all of the North Yard track has been laid except for the industries. As this module bridges the Phase II and East Denver Belt Line track with the Phase III Denver Union Terminal track work on this section will not recommence until Phase III track laying is complete.

(3) UP 36th Yard – adjacent to the D&RGW North Yard. This will probably be the last section to be started.

(4) UP & CB&Q 23rd St Shops – connects with the Denver Union Terminal. Work will be started once phase III is complete.

(5) C&S Rice Yard – connects with the Denver Union Terminal. Work will be started once phase III is complete.

(6) UP Wynkoop St Branch – Gary has stated both the cork roadbed and the track laying at the North end of the Denver Union Terminal.

(7) D&RGW Burnham Shops – this section will not be started until sections 4 & 5 have been completed.

Phase V – the D&RGW Main Line from Denver to Glenwood Springs and a branch line to Craig.  Peter has laid all of the cork roadbed for this phase and I have almost finished the Gore Canyon scenery (see previous blog). Track laying for this phase will begin after phase I is operational.

Gorge Canyon completed

The Gorge Canyon,  which is between Kremmling and Bond Colorado, has been completed to paint detail stage. Constructed over a foam base it includes a large number of rock outcroppings, made from half a dozen Woodland Scenics rock molds, Cripplebush rubber rocks, Mountains-in-Minutes foam rocks and Cooch Flexible Blasted Rock Walls. This diverse group was held together with Gorilla expanding glue and Sculptamold. It was then covered with a thin layer of grey paint which in turn was covered with a black India Ink stain. More work is required before the Gorge Canyon is complete . . .

Phase V Benchwork Completed

All of the benchwork for Phase V is now complete. Below is Gorge Canyon, (between Kremmling and Bond) where the foam scenery supports will be installed ahead of the trackwork, so as to minimise the mess that will be created during construction of the 200-300 (15″ to 22½”) foot mountain side above the Canyon. The actual canyon walls were 1000 feet high. That is 75″ in N Scale which while doable would be out of proportion with the rest of the layout. The Colorado river will be modelled on the lower part of the benchwork.

Below is the baseboard for the town of Craig in Colorado. The Craig branch from Bond is still an active coal branch on the Denver & Rio Grande Western.

Below is the foam base for the Aspen branch line from Glenwood Springs. This branch line was built by the Denver & Rio Grande Western in order to tap silver mines in the area around Aspen and was completed in 1887. The line saw significant business in its first few years, but as the silver boom tapered off, traffic along the line declined. Ultimately, the portion of the line south from Woody Creek to its end at Aspen was abandoned in 1968 and the rest of the line in 1995. As Denver’s Railroads is set in the period 1947-1963 for Passenger traffic and 1968-1969 for freight traffic the Aspen branch was still an active railroad, with passengers, coal, cattle, sheep, poultry, petroleum, perishables and explosives (dynamite) being the main commodities carried.

Track Laying for Phase III has began

Here is Rod laying the first of the Phase III track at the East throat of the Denver Union Terminal. The second of the two Scissors Crossovers (the other is at the Western throat) is installed and testing of the frog juicers to determine correct polarity will commence shortly.

Wiring for Phase II almost complete

The wiring for Phase I was completed sometime ago but now the wiring for Phase II is almost complete. Here is John hard at work soldering feeder wires to module 5, the Denver Yard Wye and return loop for the Phase I/II trackage.

Golden Spike for Phases I & II hammered home

The Golden Spike for Phases I & II was hammered home on Friday night, linking all of the track work into a large oval. Once the wiring is complete we will be able to run trains up to 100 cars in length.

Phase 1 and Phase 2 of Denver’ RailRoads is almost connected!

Rod and John came over on Saturday and we got a lot done. Rod is half way through laying the cork for phase 3 and John got a fair way through wiring the BUS on module 7 of phase 2.

I finished laying the cork for the connection from phases 1 & 2 to the Moffat Tunnel in phase 5. This means that I can now lay the track which connects phases 1 & 2.

Once that is done – and the BUS wiring for modules 6 & 7 is complete – we will be able to run LONG trains all the way from the Grand Junction return loop to the wye/loop at Denver yard.

Phase 2 Trackwork Finished!

At last we have finished laying all of the trackwork for Phase 2 of the Denver’s RailRoads layout. This trackwork comprises mainly of the composite DENVER YARD comprising of the D&RGW North Yard, the CB&Q 38th St Yard, UP’s 36th St Yard and UP’s Pullman Yard & Shops.

In addition to the two mainline tracks there are 3 arrival tracks, for (1) Rio Grande/Rock Island, (2) Burlington/C&S/Santa Fe and (3) Union Pacific, 2 departure tracks and 8 classification tracks. The oval shown in the first photograph below is in fact the right leg of the Wye at Denver Union Station, used to back east/west passenger trains into the station. Only southbound trains could run straight through.

The oval does however have the advantage to providing a continuous run for trains on display. Once the phase 2 tracks have been connected to the phase 1 return loop tracks (and the phase 2 tracks have been wired into the DCC BUS) it will be possible to run quite long trains (even up up to 100 40′ cars) on the layout

Right leg of the Wye

Denver Yard