Welcome to the Rocky Mountain Line!

Thank you for visiting the website of the Rocky Mountain Line, a mountain-themed HO Scale (1:87) model railroad running through the rugged Rocky Mountains of Colorado. The concept and the layout are set in the 1950s and feature both steam and diesel power, hauling both freight and high-priority passenger trains. Feel free to look through our folders, see pictures of the layout, view the double-decker track plan, and read about our connecting railroad partners. Click the file folder tabs at the top of the page to navigate this website.

- Along the line-

Burlington ZephyrWhen you do freelance modeling you always have to have an “alternate history.”   I have two major revisions to the way things are.  First, the major Colorado Front Range city is Centennial City.  Denver and Colorado Springs are still there but they never developed into importance as Centennial City did.  Second, the Denver and Rio Grande Western never materialized as a major player in Colorado--the Rocky Mountain Line fills the void. 

Centennial City is served by the Colorado Joint Line, a cooperative venture forged between the D&RGW, the C&S and the ATSF by the United States Railroad Administration during WW1.  The Rocky Mountain Line heads west from Centennial City across the central Rockies.  It pierces the Continental Divide through the Muppet Tunnel and continues down the western slope of the Rockies.  Finally it connects to the Southern Pacific and Western Pacific in Ogden, Utah.  The modeled portion stops at Punston Yard just west of Grand Springs where staging represents the lines to the west. 

The Joint Line
Two railroads built into Centennial City from the east, the Colorado and Southern and the Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe.  Their tracks are now used by five railroads under the Joint Line agreement imposed by the United States Railroad Administration. The ATSF, CB&Q, C&S, Rock Island and Missouri Pacific all use the Joint Line to send both freight and passenger trains to Centennial City.  East Yard represents the connection to these five railroads and the eastern United States.  This staging yard was built with 12 tracks, but an additional 11 staging tracks, dedicated to passenger trains, have been recently added.  (I guess this verifies Tony Koester’s staging yard theory.   The number of staging tracks you think you need, times two, plus one is what you should build--except mine has minus one).   The two Joint Line tracks enter the layout from East Yard staging under a highway overpass at the Arapahoe Power Plant.  They pass through the town of Buffalo Rock, where an interesting variety of industries are served and enter Centennial City via JL Tower.  The JL Tower operator routes freight trains terminating at Centennial City into 9th Street Yard and Passenger trains to Centennial City’s Union Station.  There are also a few freights that pass through Centennial City with no change.  These do not enter 9th Street Yard, but have a crew change on the main track at Union Station. 

Burlington Zephyr TimetableCentennial City
Located on the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains, Centennial City is a thriving metropolis.   The Union Station is operated by the Centennial City Union Terminal Railway (CCUT).  The CCUT and Union Station are owned by the 6 railroads using the facility, the ATSF, CB&Q, C&S, MP, RI and RML.  The station, large Post Office and Railway Express Agency are all switched by a fleet of CCUT Alco switchers.  Tower A on the east, and Tower B on the west control the movement of trains and switchers through the puzzle of approach tracks to the station.  Passenger trains arriving from the east pass through the station on the main track, turn at the loop and enter the station platforms from the west throat.  The only exception is the California Zephyr which continues west on the RML.  The station is a scratch built full scale replica of Denver’s Union Station as are Towers A & B.  The 9th Street yard has 4 arrival/departure tracks and 10 classification tracks.  Trains arriving here are broken down and classified for the 6 Centennial City railroads by the busy yard switchers.  Centennial Bottoms is a major industrial area switched by the RML as is the produce district and the large Gold Brick Mining Corp.’s smelter at West Centennial.  Rocky Mountain Line CTC begins at the west edge of Centennial City with the dispatcher controlling all the train movements between Centennial City and Punston Yard.

Goldpin Junction
Goldpin Junction is a busy place since it is the beginning of the Dragerton Branch and also the helper station at the bottom of Svenska Hill—the long climb to the Centennial Divide.  In addition to the transfer yard where cars are exchanged for delivery to the branch line and the servicing facilities for the helper locomotives, there is a saw mill whose main products are polls and mining timbers.

Svenska Hill
The name given by the railroaders to the long steady 2% grade up the front range of the Rockies is Svenska Hill.  The 2% climb extends from Goldpin Jct. to Svenska with another short 1% grade from Svenska to the east portal of the Muppet Tunnel.  It is single track with only a short helper pocket at Midway.  Helper locomotives are added to the rear of freight and sometimes the front of heavy mail trains at Goldpin Jct.  Helpers can be removed at either Svenska or Alpine Summit and return light to Goldpin Jct.  As you can imagine this section of track is a real challenge for the Dispatcher.  One of the notable scenic attractions on the climb is the large horseshoe curve around Lake Francis.  It is in this area where there are reported sightings of the “Svenyetti,” a blond colored version of Sasquatch.  

The village of Svenska is a growing ski resort with many of the buildings having a European flavor to enhance the image for the tourists.  Situated near the Centennial Divide there is abundant snow for skiers in the winter months and delightfully cool days for the summer tourists.  The RML operates the Svenska Swift to bring skiers and tourists from Centennial City to Svenska in the morning and back home in the evening.  It is usually operated by a pair of RDC cars.  The Oscar & Alma Swedish Meatball Factory and Viking Ski Manufacturers provide additional revenue for the RML.

California ZephyrMuppet Tunnel & Alpine Summit
When a train enters the east portal of the Muppet Tunnel it travels across the top of the wall that forms the backdrop for the Lake Francis area.  It then emerges through the west portal on the other side of the Continental Divide at Alpine Summit.  It has traveled a distance of more than 28 feet giving the engineer the feeling  that he has truly gone through a long tunnel.  At Alpine Summit there are two passing tracks, a wye, small depot and section house.  From here west bound trains begin their decent of the western slope of the Rockies.  The grade from here to Grand Springs is 1%, thus helpers are not usually needed for east bound trains.

Coal Gate and the Columbine Coal Company
The Columbine Coal Company (CCC) operates coal mines and a dedicated coal railroad in northwestern Colorado.  At Coal Gate the CCC tracks join the RML and there is an interchange track where cars, other than coal cars, are exchanged.    The Carbon Creek Coal Mine is also located here.  CCC tracks parallel the RML on the opposite side of Carbon Creek until they veer north to the Columbine Coal Fields represented by the 4 track staging at Columbine Yard.
Obviously named for the large Shell Oil Company refinery located here, Shell is a major shipper.   There is also a large stock yard complex which is a seasonal source of livestock traffic.   East and west bound peddler freights will pick-up and drop-off cars here, but the switching is done by the Shell Turn which originates at Punston Yard.

EMD AdvertisementHanging Lake and Grand Springs
Heading west from Shell the tracks of the RML follow the Grand River all the way to Utah.  Hanging Lake is located deep in a magnificent canyon which is said to have inspired the first dome car.  At Grand Springs the canyon widens out affording space for a modest town site including resorts and a world renowned hot springs pool.  This area is obviously inspired by the Colorado River, Glenwood Canyon and Glenwood Springs, CO.  (The Colorado River in this area was originally called the Grand River.  Its name was officially changed in 1921—but, as you remember, we have an alternate history so it’s still the Grand River on the RML)

Punston Yard
Located across the Grand River from Grand Springs is Punston Yard which serves as the RML’s west staging.  The tracks cross the river on a massive skewed through truss bridge which is patterned after the bridge the D&RGW had at Glenwood Springs.   That bridge has since been removed and the tracks realigned as the result of the construction of I-70.

Goldpin Tramway
The mining branch that serves the mines and mills of the Blue Valley Mining District is operated by the Goldpin Tramway. It is very loosely patterned after the two foot gauge Gilpin Tramway which served the same purpose around Blackhawk and Central City in Colorado. I choose to make my Goldpin Tramway standard gauge to allow interchange of cars and it has proven to be a favorite with operators. Shortly after the branch leaves the mainline at Goldpin Jct., it crosses Gopher Gulch on a long delicate through truss bridge (scratch built from plans in June 1978 Model Railroader magazine). Because of this bridge, only light locomotives are allowed to operate on the branch. The Gold Brick Mining Corporation has consolidated all the mines and mills in the district and operates them as efficiently as possible. This, along with a secret proprietary extraction process, has allowed continued successful gold and silver mining even into the 1950s. There are seven mines and three mills served by the Tramway which keeps its shay and climax locomotives working hard.

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