Information Sources & Links

Rice Yard Diesel Locomotive Facilities Map, April 1948.  Tracks, buildings, structures, lighting, and more:  plans like this are a gold mine of information for the prototype modeler.    Colorado Railroad Museum

A Foundation of Information

My recreation of the Colorado & Southern Railway in 1958 is based on the historical record built by contemporary railfans.  By the late 1950s, the nationwide replacement of steam locomotives by diesels spurred them to photograph, film, and even sound-record the last days of steam on the C&S — the last of the Class I railroads to complete the transition.  Luckily, many railfans published their treasures for a wider — and future — audience.

The almost simultaneous collapse of narrow gauge railroads in Colorado led to the creation of the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden, a ready repository for old company maps and documents — not to mention a fantastic collection of locomotives and rolling stock!  The museum was joined by historical societies, museums, and libraries throughout the prototype Northern Division's territory in preserving structures and the historical record.

Here is my distilled list of information sources that I used to create the Northern Division.  I hope this inspires other prototype modelers in their industrial archeology

The C&S built a new coaling tower at Rice Yard in 1946.  Pretty bad timing as steam operations ceased less than 14 years later.    Colorado Railroad Museum

Railroad Books

When I began exploring the Colorado & Southern in the late 1980s, books were the only game in town.  Whether in libraries, bookstores, or museum gift shops, photograph-rich railroad books, many with maps, were my ticket into the prototype's past.  This bibliography lists my collection of C&S Railway books.

I've already called out Goin' Railroading for inspiring me to model the C&S.  I also have to spotlight Hol Wagner's The Colorado Road as the authority on C&S locomotives, passenger equipment, cabooses and more.  Hol's tome spent years directly above my modeling bench as I recreated the prototype's roster for the Northern Division.

The core of my C&S book shelf is center-left in this photo, namely The Colorado Road and Goin' Railroading.  Moving right, we slide into local history, featuring railroads and related industries.  To the left, we slip into narrow gauge railroads, including The Switzerland Trail, Boulder's own.  Somehow, a couple of live steam books and Steve King's beautifully photographed Clinchfield Country snuck into the mix.

Railroad Videos

VHS video tapes were the next new thing in our hobby in the 1980s.  You already know the impact Last Steamers of the Colorado & Southern had on me — I eventually wore out the tape and replaced it with a DVD.  My operating crew grew tired of watching Last Steamers in the Crew Lounge every session (what???), and were pleased when I received a second C&S DVD with all new scenes as a gift in 2010.

  • The Last Steamers of the Colorado & Southern.  WB Video Productions, 1986.
  • Colorado & Southern Steam.  Greg Scholl Video Productions, 2010.

Libraries & Museums

More than just books, libraries will often have photos, Sanborn Maps, and even railroad company documents.  That goes double for museums.  You can often peruse their holdings online:

Colorado & Southern Steam features 8mm and 16mm color film shot between 1954 and 1962 with Rice Yard switching, local jobs, and main line action.

Web Sites

Search and you shall find.  Here are some wonderful sites where you will be rewarded.

  • National Model Railroad Association (NMRA) - An organization of model railroaders, advancing the worldwide scale model railroading community through education and standards as well as advocacy and fellowship.
  • Layout Design Special Interest Group - The Layout Design SIG offers design aids, a primer, and much, much more to help you maximize your layout's potential while avoiding common pitfalls.
  • Operations Special Interest Group - The Operations SIG discusses, develops, and disseminates ways of operating model railroads to realistically emulate practices of the prototype railroads.
  • Gateway NRMA Clinics - Access to clinics, articles and forms to assist in setting up model railroad operations, including timetables and schedules, car cards, waybills, train orders, car routing, and operations best practices.
  • NMRA Gateway Division TT&TO Tutorial - A wonderful introduction to Time Table and Train Order operations from the Gateway team.
  • Burlington Route Historical Society - Railroad historical societies are a phenomenal source of prototype information and modeling supplies.  The Burlington Route Historical Society is superb.
  • eBay - You may find something that you want to buy, or perhaps just something to look at and study.  I have found eBay a great source for rulebooks, employee time tables, and many photos that improved my operating and modeling.

The Operations Special Interest Group logo.

YouTube Videos

There are incredibly talented people teaching the world new skills on YouTube.  Here are five of the best for modeling techniques.  Explore their channels — you won't be disappointed.

  • Mural Joe - Joe teaches acrylic landscape painting, from A to Z, on a reallllly big canvas.
  • Clive5Art Easy Clouds - Clive teaches acrylic landscape painting — and he cured my fear of clouds.
  • Boomer Dioramas - A former model maker for the movie industry, Boomer is the most talented styrene modeler I have ever seen.  That goes double for his scenery.
  • Luke Towan - Luke is an innovative scenery modeler from Australia.  His water work is outstanding.
  • Kathy Millatt - Another outstanding and innovative scenery modeler, Kathy is a great teacher.

Storm Front at Burns Jct:  I painted this backdrop after training from Joe and Clive.

Friends' Layouts

Some incredibly talented people are friends of mine.  I think you'll enjoy their websites.

  • John Parker's Fall River Division - a very large prototype-based freelance HO scale representation of today's BNSF Railway operating between the Midwest, and points north through the Pacific Northwest.  John's layout is a YouTube favorite.
  • Don Meeker's Rocky Mountain Line - this very large prototype-freelance HO scale layout is set in 1950s Colorado and features both steam and diesel power, hauling both freight and high-priority passenger trains.  Don's layout appeared in Great Model Railroads 2012 — and you'll enjoy his thematic website.
  • David Stewart's Appalachian & Ohio Railroad - this 3000 sq. ft. O scale freelance coal-hauler has been featured many times in the pages of Model Railroader magazine and Model Railroad Planning.  Be careful if you visit — you may find yourself moving to O scale!
  • Colorado Model Railroad Museum in Greeley, CO - a breathtaking 5500 sq. ft. HO model railroad in an 11,000 sq. ft. railroad museum. The GFSM layout features the 20+ scale mile climb of the Oregon California & Eastern Ry. over Quartz Summit. The OC&E appears as "the ultimate mountain layout" on the cover of the December 2008 Model Railroader.

Today's railroading is on display as a hotshot Z Train charges across a double track road crossing on John Parker's Fall River Division.  Photo courtesy of John Parker.