The Utah Colorado Western’s amazing scenery forms a realistic backdrop for the number-one reason the layout exists: model railroad operations! In Part 3 of Allen Keller’s series on the UCW, we follow the action that makes the monthly operations sessions on Lee Nicholas’ HO layout such a fun experience.
Follow a fast freight through Flannigan, past Farmer’s Group Co-op and Wade Chemical Company; a switcher serves Utah Steel, a huge customer on the Flannigan Southwestern shortline railroad. The freight then enters the Flannigan Tunnel into the Salt Lake hidden storage as a way freight led by two GP-35s leaves the Yard bound for various setouts and pickups along the way to Denver.
In Flannigan, the Geeps serve Utah Steel, picking up two cars and proceeding to Watercress.
The 1-½% grade requires helper engines, with an F-unit and RS-11 serving as back-end power.
The power combination works hard as it churns its way up canyons with towering cliff faces protected by slide fences. At Sage Hen, as the terrain levels out, the backend power cuts off as the freight picks up speed and proceeds into Jiggs, the interchange point with the Lone Pine branchline and the old mainline to Cobre. Three empty hoppers are dropped off and four coal-filled hoppers are picked up, headed for East Yard in Denver.
Active operations, combined with outstanding scenic effects, make the UCW an exciting layout to visit as well as emulate. Here are more tips for introducing model railroad operations for your increased railroading enjoyment!