John Gray’s Union Pacific Cheyenne Division runs around Cheyenne, Wyoming, during the 1930s through the 1960s. Allen Keller asks why he chose that era and area to model. Growing up in Boise, Idaho, John states that the Union Pacific was the only game in town. When he went to school in the Midwest, he would always take the streamliners from Boise to Chicago. The route would go through Cheyenne, where all the big locomotives were. Cheyenne still had most of the roundhouses, a big boy, and a challenger sitting inside the roundhouse. To him it was magic because everything was so big.
Even in a modeling space as big as 46′ by 26′, John had to shoehorn in the town of Cheyenne and had to compromise severely. Fitting in anything else would have been practically impossible. Because it was John’s railroad, he had the freedom to choose any time period he wanted to model. The timeless era he chose had many unique locomotives and equipment types. Since that time, they have become more generic, though Cheyenne hasn’t changed as much when compared to old photos. The dilemma they had when designing the layout was trying to figure out how to get the maximum radius possible. Peninsulas create tight radiuses that are not ideal, since John runs passenger trains and big boys with a standard length of 18 to 20 cars. John is principally a collector and he uses the layout as a display for the brass locomotives and cars he has collected.