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!

June 2020

Model Railroader has been the leading model train magazine for the past 75 years.  Each month, we bring you step-by-step modeling projects, fascinating photo tours of model train layouts, unbiased product reviews, new product announcements, tips from the experts and much more!

Subscribers get exclusive online access to hundreds of track plans, product reviews, videos, bonus articles and more.



Conquering the Cascades

When I was kid in the 1960s, I first saw photos of John Allen’s HO scale Gorre & Daphetid in the pages of Model Railroader. Since then, I dreamed of building my own mountain railroad. The journey to achieve that goal started with a Christmas layout, progressed through several more “plywood Pacifics,” and then endured a 20-year hiatus from the hobby.

My interest in mountain railroading and Pacific Northwest scenery was also fueled by participating in mountain sports, which my wife and I immersed ourselves in when we moved to Washington in 1985. Our activities often took us to the Stevens Pass area, where we encountered the Burlington Northern RR main line over the Cascades. My railroad interests resurfaced, and after reading Charles Wood’s Lines West (Superior Publishing Co., 1967), a book that chronicles the Great Northern Ry.’s construction and operation of this main line, I was hooked on building a GN-themed mountain layout.

Model Spring Creek Trestle in N scale

At over a quarter-mile long, Spring Creek Trestle on the Milwaukee Road’s North Montana Line is one of the longest wood pile trestles in the Big Sky State. Located nine miles northwest of Lewistown in the central part of Montana, the full-size bridge was built jointly by the Milwaukee Road (MILW) and Great Northern (GN) in 1912 to cross Big Spring Creek. Since I model the North Montana Line in N scale during the steam-to-diesel locomotive transition era, I needed to model this signature structure.

The full-size bridge is 1,391 feet long. Though largely constructed of wood, there are two steel sections with deck girders. In its early days the bridge had a gantlet track so the MILW and GN could each have its own line between Spring Creek Junction to the west and Hanover to the east. The gantlet track was later removed in favor of a single-track arrangement. The Spring Creek Trestle isn’t used today, but the structure still stands.


Ride the Frisco to St. Louis

From John Peluso's home in suburban St. Louis, you can hear trains passing on BNSF Railway’s line between
St. Louis and Springfield, Mo. Inside his basement, though, the trains are HO scale versions of those that ran over the same line when it belonged to the St. Louis-San Francisco Ry., also known as the Frisco.

John’s layout is a collection of familiar scenes in the St. Louis area and along the line, such as the Arsenal Ave. overpass that cuts through the middle of Lindenwood Yard, the gasworks and McCausland Ave. underpass at the west end of the yard, and the Meramec River bridges and limestone bluffs, which were so much a part of the Frisco that the railway featured them on its timetables.


A winter's project

The rotary snowplow was probably the most important piece of maintenance equipment a railroad needed during winters in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. In 1888, one year after beginning operations, the Colorado Midland Ry. bought a rotary snowplow from the Leslie Brothers Co. of Paterson, N.J. The brass hats in the main office had realized after the first year they couldn’t solely rely upon what would become known as the “Midland Snowbirds” to shovel the snow by hand.

The plow had a 9-foot rotary blade with a shroud extending out an additional foot on each side. At 11 feet across, the machine would clear a path wide enough for any Midland equipment. An interesting aspect of the Leslie design was that the carbody resembled a greenhouse, with large windows along both sides and in the operator’s area just behind the rotary and impeller blades.


Video Plus

See this month's highlights, including free preview videos, from our subscription video channel, Model Railroader Video Plus!

From the editor

What inspires your modeling?

Ask MR

Where can I find scale drawings of the K-27?

Heritage Fleet

The best of all possible worlds?

Step by Step

Modifying an N scale hopper

DCC Corner

ESU's LokSound 5 is here!

On Operation

Called for a Barlow Turn

Trackside Photos

Photos from your fellow model railroaders

Trains of Thought

The all-too-familiar problem of inertia



Freight yard design and operation.

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