In Part 4 of Allen Keller’s series on the Utah Colorado Western (UCW), learn what was behind modeler Lee Nicholas’ design and inspiration for planning his model railroad layout. Many modelers who operate freelanced railroads have created elaborate fictional stories for why and where their layout is located, and how it operates the way it does…
In the case of the UCW, Lee explains that when coming east from Salt Lake, his railroad had planned to hook up with the Denver and Salt Lake in Craig, Colorado, but the D&RGW had beaten him to the punch. Consequently, he chose a more northerly route around Craig and down into Denver. The rationale and backstory are what enthused Lee and his team when planning the layout.
He continues that the other roads with which he interchanges—the D&RGW, the WP and SP—are all competitors of his and are fighting for their cut of traffic revenue. On the UCW, Denver and Salt Lake City are not modeled, but are represented by hidden storage. And in the age-old tradition of never finishing a layout, just a year and a half ago Lee tore out about 75% of his layout—mainly storage tracks—to create an active staging area to keep his yard operator busier during ops sessions.
It’s a great example of how even mature, complete layouts can undergo major changes to improve processes and practices, as well as introduce new or improved technology. Don’t be afraid to try it! Here are more tips on model railroad layout design.