Bob Brown’s Tuolumne Forks is a California logging railroad with a tourist line called the Lake Tahoe Railway and Navigation Company. Allen Keller sits down with the narrow gauge modeler to understand his owner inspirations and techniques. Brown chose a logging line because the prototypes normally did not interchange with other railroads and usually the equipment was homemade. This provided many opportunities for him to freelance, which he loves.
The fancy passenger trains running to the hotel and the rundown logging equipment greatly appeals to Brown. The logging line is based on a number of prototypes of the central Sierran including the West Side Lumber Company, the Michigan and California Company (the Diamond and Caldor), and the Swayne Lumber Company. He did not participate in the typical Colorado modeling because the commonness of the equipment didn’t appeal to him.
Brown’s logging layout is an unusual setup but it gave him the greatest opportunity to model narrow gauge railroads. Although Tuolumne Forks is not a real town, there is a Tuolumne River with a north and a south fork which inspired its naming. There is also a Tuolumne City near Sonora California.
Brown uses books and photos he took when he was a child as references for his modeling. As the publisher and editor of The Narrow Gauge and Shortline Gazette, he has devoted his life to narrow gauge modeling. Brown enjoys the quaint atmosphere of vintage rundown railways. The vintageness is owing to the rapid decline in narrow gauge railroading in America. The last narrow gauge common carrier in the United States was built in 1914.