Burlington Northern – Marias Pass

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Railroad Details Burlington Northern – Marias Pass Scale , Status Superintendent Alan Schroeder Subdivision Hi Line and Kootenai River Interchange Union Pacific, MRL Locale Northwestern Montana Era 1990ish Layout Size 1000 sq ft Control Digitrax Simplex DCC Dispatching CTC-CATS on computer Communication Telephones Forwarding CC/WB by Shenware Crew Size 15 Listed Jobs Dispatcher, Yard master, 2 switchers crew, footboard yardmaster, helper crew, 3 local crews, 7-9 road crew

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).

Photos from the Burlington Northern – Marias Pass

About Alan Schroeder

At the age of 8 I was given my first train....a 4x8 layout built by my brother in law. I must have put a million miles on the ICG loco that came with it. Burlington Northern is now my railroad of choice.....I've been modeling the BN for over 25 years, although my early days of serious modeling was of the Milwaukee Road.