The Burlington Northern Hi-Line Subdivision mainline through the Rocky Mountains of western Montana is the setting for this mushroom style, multi-deck layout. This area is known as Marias Pass.
Trains traverse 700 feet of single and double track mainline, with helper engines shoving hard to get the tonnage up the grade from Essex, MT east to the summit of Marias Pass. While this area of Montana does not feature much on-line industry, the cities of Whitefish and Columbia Falls provide plenty of switching activity. Additionally, secondary lines to Kalispel, Eureka and Great Falls create additional traffic density. The predominant commodities from local industries is aggregate and forest products, but the layout stretches east to Cutbank, MT with grain elevators with plenty of wheat to be loaded into covered hoppers for movement to customers. Throw in the constant flow of EMD SD40-2’s and GP50’s along with GE LMX B39-8 lease units pulling intermodal traffic from the Pacific Northwest ports to destinations in the Midwest and this railroad is all Burlington Northern of the late 80’s and into the 90’s.
Digitrax DCC Chief is the control system utilizing UT4R radio throttles and BDL-168 and SE8C signaling components and Southbend Signals. Centralized Traffic Control using CATS on computer screen is utilized for traffic management and Shenware car cards and waybills is the car-forwarding method.
The unique feature that this layout provides is a second layout in N Scale of Great Falls, MT to provide additional switching activity for operators as well as satisfy my desire to model in N scale. This second layout is in the office located adjacent to the layout room.
This layout is located in the Wisconsin Dells area (rural Reedsburg).