Sunday, May 10, 2015

Flash! Tracklayers enter Santa Rosalia!

For a couple of years now, I have been describing my goals for the end of my mythical SP branch line, at the seacoast town of Santa Rosalia. In the fall of 2013, I was building the benchwork and completing the backdrop extension to that corner of the layout (see: ). In the summer of 2014, I was starting on modeling the water’s edge (read about it at: ). More recently, I have been posting about constructing the American Model Builders kit for the SP Common Standard No. 22 depot (for example, recently at: ), and about the trestle to carry the track from Ballard over Oso Flaco Creek into Santa Rosalia (check it out: ). But all these things are preliminaries.
     When the Santa Rosalia name was chosen, I wanted to use one of the typical Spanish saint’s names, as are so common in California as well as throughout Latin America, but did not want to choose one already used in California. There is a real Santa Rosalia (a small place) in Baja California but not in American California, so I chose that. For those unsure of my modeled area, I described some time ago the layout locale that I envision for my mythical branch line, including a map with the location of Santa Rosalia. You can view it at: .
     With operating sessions on my layout coming up at the rapidly approaching convention of Pacific Coast Region (NMRA), I was determined to get some trackage into Santa Rosalia to extend the switching work to that point. Essentially there is a kind of yard throat as a train enters Santa Rosalia, with multiple switches giving access to multiple tracks (the cannery track, house track, main, and siding). In my column for the “Getting Real” series in Model Railroad Hobbyist, for October 2014 (you can download any issue of MRH free at their site, ), I presented schematic maps for some of my towns, but not for Santa Rosalia, mostly because the track plan was in flux. But it is now pretty well set. It’s shown below as it’s being built.

      Here are some views of the new track at Santa Rosalia. First, I show the curving track that has just crossed the creek, and extends into town. And yes, that’s actually a box of Varney spikes on the right (sold as 1/4-pound of spikes, “over 3000 spikes”). I bought this box back in the 1970s for my first layout efforts, and I still have about a third of a box. The water tank is not in its correct location; it will be placed down past the depot.

Looking farther to the right of the above photo, the current extent of track is shown. Obviously I  already have both the “cannery track” buildings in place (see map above). But rather than talk about them now, I will describe their construction in my next post.

At lower right, you see the Xeroxed three-way switch that will be located there.
     It’s fun to be able to operate into Santa Rosalia, something I have waiting a long time to do. And it will give my operating session crews more to do also.
Tony Thompson


  1. It looks like Santa Rosalia will continue the flavor of your other small towns, and the industries all seem very appropriate, again. I do wonder whether a real railroad would have arranged a 3-business siding (your Track 2) with a blind-end entry; although it may contribute to switching fun, it will require a fairly long tail track to make it feasible. Real railroads were not looking to make their lives more complicated...
    - Gerhard Klose

  2. You are entirely right that prototype railroads avoid this kind of thing, but it does happen sometimes. Kind of like the prototype in those situations, I didn't have much choice.
    Tony Thompson

  3. I am also wondering about your decision to not have a turntable at the end of the branch - 3 months ago, in Layout Track Arrangement, you wrote: "The branch, then, is point-to-point, and has no turning facilities along it. At Shumala, however, there is a turntable with the roundhouse."
    I know you have quite limited real estate at Santa Rosalia, but this means that the steam engines will thus spend half their time running backwards, which of course they can do perfectly well, but how common would that have been on the SP?
    - Gerhard again

  4. Some SP branches had engine facilities, including turning capability, at the end of the branch; some did not. There were a number of places on the SP where locals or branch line trains could not turn at the outer end of their run, and had to run one of the directions backward. On the Coast Division, these included the Goleta local out of Santa Barbara, and the Guadalupe local out of San Luis Obispo. That is how my branch runs too.
    Tony Thompson