Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Horseshoe curves work better in N scale

Read the N Scale Insight column from the May 2017 Model Railroader
"Caliente" is a Spanish word for "hot," and its a hot spot on Jim Kelly's N scale layout. Jim talks about the advantages of N scale in planning a mountain railroad.
Jim Kelly photo

Caliente, Calif., is a little town on the Union Pacific between Bakersfield and Tehachapi. Fans of the railroad’s Tehachapi Pass know Caliente for its horseshoe curve; the rest of the world likely has never heard of it. If you’re modeling Tehachapi Pass, as I am, Caliente will probably be high on your list of places to include, right up there with the famed loop.

The horseshoe curve at Caliente is typical of such curves, often found on mountain railroads. A line will follow a river or creek upstream, then cross the stream, reverse direction, and continue climbing on the opposite bank. Back in the 1870s, the Southern Pacific followed Caliente Creek from the San Joaquin Valley up into the mountains. At Caliente, the railroad crossed the creek, doubled back on itself, eventually wound its way over to the Tehachapi Creek canyon, and topped the mountains at the town of Tehachapi.

The full text of this article is available to registered users of Register now!

Registration is FREE and takes only a few seconds to complete. If you are already registered on, please log in below.
Comment on this article


Two great beginner layouts.

Model Railroader Newsletter See all
Sign up for our FREE e-newsletter and get model railroad news in your inbox!
By signing up you may also receive occasional reader surveys and special offers from Model Railroader magazine. Please view our privacy policy