BNSF Kootenai River Sub

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Railroad Details BNSF Kootenai River Sub Scale Status Superintendent David R. Waraxa Subdivision Kootenai River Sub Interchange MRL, UP Locale Idaho, Washington Era 2000 Layout Size 48X60 in an "L" shaped walkout basement Control Digitrax wireless Dispatching Modern CRT (Computer Screen CTC) Communication FRS Radios Clock Speed 1:1 Forwarding JMRI computer car movements using custom Excel paperwork. Crew Size 13 Listed Jobs Dispatcher, Hauser and Troy footboard yardmasters and yes you are the master of your yard as the paperwork tells you where the cars are going and not what track to place them on. Hauser yard crew, Potlatch Mill switch crew, UP Kootenai River turn, MRL jobs and road pool.

This creation was set in the western part of the United States. It was a freelanced, fully signaled early 2000’s BNSF layout and the CTC was controlled by a dispatcher using a modern style CRT panel. The Kootenai (pronounced Koot-nee) River sub is what the BNSF calls the location running between Spokane Washington and Whitefish Montana. The area allowed me to have some MRL trains exercising trackage rights on the BNSF with a local turn that works Clark Fork.  It also had a UP turn that switched out Kootenai River.  Most trains had work to do along the way with a few running straight through.  Amtrak trains #7 and #8 were also present.  The Amtrak trains were very close to a full length Empire Builder.

Crews communicated with the dispatcher, when they needed to, by using the two way radios. The DCC system was “Digitrax Super Chief” with wireless hand held UT4R’s and some UT4 throttles for the yard crews. Car movements were created by a computer program called JMRI Operations, which creates switch lists for the yard crews as well as manifests for the road crews. Think of the computer as the station agent, telling the crews what industry needs which car. Because of this, the car movements were by need, meaning the same car usually will not go to the same place every 4th time.  It is open source and the paperwork it prints out is close to prototypical.

The layout, was accessible through a walkout, no stairs, basement door on one level, point to point, running through the entire basement. It occupied up to 13 operators with the following jobs. Dispatcher (dispatches trains using a CTC panel on a computer screen. CATS was used for this traffic control) This person also had control over most mainline turnouts. Other jobs available, Hauser Yard master and yard crew, Troy switch crew, Potlatch Mill switch crew, UP Kootenai River turn, MRL jobs, and the rest for various road crew assignments.

I started it back around 2005 and I loved creating things for the layout. But all good things do come to an end and the last session was in September of 2023. I had phun as did countless others. If you operated here in the past, thank you.

Photos from the BNSF Kootenai River Sub

About Dave Waraxa

Freelancing the BNSF out west in the Kootenai River sub. First train, a Lionel, had to be put away when I was done playing with it. I remember the orange handle made the whistle blow. Pins on one end, holes on the other for assembling the track. I even hooked up the wires. It had powered turnouts and a powered uncoupler. Ma and dad didn't have a lot of money, but they bought me that Lionel. I got my first H.O. train set when I turned 8. I remember riding to North Main Hobbies in Racine that day, 60 years ago. If I can remember all that how come I cannot remember what did I did yesterday?