Go behind the scenes of the Utah Colorado Western railroad and see how Lee Nicholas has blended an amazing mix of realistic model railroad backdrops and structures into a truly believable HO Scale rendition of railroading through the rugged mountainous region between Denver and Salt Lake City.
In Part 2 of Allen Keller’s series on the UCW, we follow a hot freight headed up by a GP-35 and twin GP-7s as it exits the hidden yard of Denver’s East Yard and accelerates past the ice dock past the once-popular, now run-down Britton Hotel and into the countryside full of rivers, cliffs, mountains, and gulches. Periodically, short haul trains and transfer runs pass beneath, in front or above the mainline action. There’s no shortage of activity when operating on this 1960s-inspired major bridgeline layout fictionally named the Utah Colorado Western.
The mixed freight of reefers, boxcars, tankers and TOFCs winds its way through small industrial areas, grain elevators and coal mines on its climb through the mountain tunnels and eventual descent into Salt Lake. The area is crisscrossed by country dirt roads, bridging over churning mountain rivers. Coal mines cling to cliff edges. A cowboy herding cattle up a dry gulch adds an authentic Western touch, as do scratchbuilt slide fences to prevent rockslides from blocking the line. At Watercress, two RS-1s head up a cut of cars on the Flannigan & Southwestern short line.
Model railroad structures built by Lee and his team add to the realism of operating on the Utah Colorado Western. Here are some more tips on creating realistic structures on your layout.