Rio Grande Southern RR - Layout Plans
Well, it was a long time coming, but I finally have an initial version of the plans for my own version of what the Rio Grande Southern might've become had it lasted beyond 1952. Construction has begun, but I'm always open to improvements, suggestions and wise-cracks! Email me at ! Thanks.
Layout construction is finally underway, focusing on basic benchwork at the moment. For details and and progress reports (now with photos!), see my RGS Mutterings / layout construction blog.
. TrainPlayer is lots of fun - you can run trains, switch towns - pretty much everything you'd do on a real layout. It's especially handy for testing your operating schemes and layout planning. You can download a demo copy of the TrainPlayer as well.
Here's the layout design; medium and larger versions are also available. You can see how the design has evolved, based on input from lots of kind folks, by looking at the older version. I used Empire Express to create the drawing, and then used a CAD program on a Mac to add some additional colors and labels.
I hope to add a more complete history later, but essentially what I propose happened is this: at some point the line was standard gauged, as management hoped to capitalize on the std-gauge Farmington branch out of Durango, and also make itself more attractive for through freight heading for Grand Jct and beyond.
The Southern Pacific, around 1910, was looking to find a way into Franklin Jct or Durango for access to the coal fields. Attempting to help them (and of course gain profits), the D&RG built a std-gauge line south from Durango to Farmington.
There's a longish story behind this move - copper mines in Bisbee (Copper Queen Mining Co) and Morenci (Phelps-Dodge) Arizona used huge amounts of coal, and wanted cheap coal locally, from the coal areas near Durango. These folks sent a delegation to Durango in 1905 to explore options with the D&RG and RGS, but nothing came of it. Instead, they purchased coal interests in Dawson, New Mexico, and built two railroads to move their coal to their copper mines. The first line was the El Paso & Northeastern, and the second the El Paso & Southwestern (from El Paso to Benson). These merged under the EP&SW name, by they extended to Tucson. Also in 1924, the merged lines were acquired by the SP in 1924, giving the SP it's first access to the Bisbee area. Today, the old EP&NE is part of the UP line from El Paso to Tucumcarri, while the EP&SW is mostly abandoned.
The Farmington branch was built std-gauge by the D&RGW in a bid to give SP access to these coal areas, but the EP&NE and EP&SW lines put an end to that, and the Farmington branch was eventually narrow-gauged. In my alterate history, however, the SP helped fund the D&RG's branch to Farmington, and purchased a majority stake in the RGS.
The RGS was std-gauged with SP funding, and the SP connected to the southern end of the Farmington branch. The D&RG line from Ridgway to Grand Jct was also std-gauged (by the D&RGW). This, after some negotiation for trackage rights) gave the SP a connection all the way from it's southern main line to it's western connection at Salt Lake (via Grand Jct).
But, the bottom fell out of the economy in 1929, long before the SP had completed all the work it intended on the RGS. The work of std-gauging the line was completed, but not much else. The line remained 'just operable' for many years.
There were benefits, though: mining operations around Ophir, Rico, and Telluride were able to hang on, as shipping to points north and south (beyond the NG empire) were now economical because of the SG connection via the SP. Coal and lumber from the south end was in high demand, and ore operations on the north end, while not overly profitable, were at least able to remain open. Much later, the SP was also able to add passenger runs into Telluride, as that town began it's conversion from mining to ski resorts. All of these factors helped the RGS to survive, essentially as a partially-owned subsidiary of the SP.
Today (about 1958 or so) the line is running, but improvements are still coming and the infrastructure has a long way to go. A couple of diesels have been purchased, but aging steam still rules this roost. The track is passable but could use a lot of new ties and ballasting. Bits and pieces from NG days litter the landscape, w/numerous boxcars and old b&b cars serving as offices, sheds, bunkhouses and even depots. Here and there old bits of abandoned spurs and sidings may be seen. But times are changing - the SP occasionally runs scenic tours using chartered Daylight streamliners into Telluride, where talk is beginning about resorts and skiing. Dolores is still generating healthy amounts of lumber from McPhee (regrettably not able to be modeled), and coal is still in high demand. Thru-traffic from Farmington abounds, and there's still a bit of mining above Rico thanks to some new owners and new uses for the ores available there, and economical shipping to points north via the SP.
Layout SpecsRio Grande Southern
Distances, LengthsMileposts reference the north end of towns, sidings, etc
page. It was an
interesting exercise... All the sq footages and lengths are approximate.
Note - Number of cars is based on 40' cars.
Note - Ridgway arrival / departure each count as
passing sidings, and Vance Jct's siding counts as
Note - Cars moved is number of
cars moved in a typical operating
Note - Avg train size is measured
in 'cars' but w/loco and caboose is
really about 15 40' cars or approx 7
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