POWDER RIVER AND SHOBON

THE PROTOTYPE

Powder River was founded as a stop on the Wyoming & Northwestern on it's way to Lander. Though it's the biggest town between Casper and Shoshoni, a distance of nearly 100 miles, that's not really saying much - a few years ago it's total population was about 35 people.

Shobon isn't even that big - it's just the spot where the CNW tracks took off from the CB&Q line and headed to Lander. Until 1943, when the CNW abandoned its own line from Casper and began running on the CB&Q's line to near Shoshoni, Shobon didn't even exist, except perhaps as a passing siding out in the middle of nowhere.

POWDER RIVER

We're looking north at the tracks east of Powder River a couple of miles, from inside one of the stock pens. Small animals (relative to cows and horses) were loaded here - since Wyoming never had much in the way of goat herding, it had to be for sheep. 

Here we're looking in the opposite direction from the first photo. All in all, the stretch of countryside between Casper and Shoshoni is 100 miles of not much.

SHOBON

Well, not exactly Shobon, but within a few miles. This also could go on the Wind River Canyon page. This is the first Boysen Dam, apparently built in the early 1900s. It was replaced in the mid-1940s with the current dam, which is slightly upstream (south) of the first one.  

Here's another view of the first Boysen Dam, seen from up the mountain on the highway side. Near the top at the far left, just above the lake, you can see the rail line before it disappears into a tunnel.

WRC - 1st Boysen Dam site - 2003.JPG (115860 bytes)Site of the first Boysen Dam in 2003 - The dam stretched between the rock walls of the canyon just beyond the spit of land that you see in the foreground. On the left side, midway between the top and bottom of the photo, you ca see a set of stairs. The dam stretched from the rocks right there to the right side of the picture where you can see a concrete pier of some sort in a rock ledge about even with the middle of the left-hand staircase. The spit of land, which is now a campground, is part of the silt that accumulated behind the dam and rendered it useless after a relatively short lifetime.

Slightly to the right of the center of the photo you can see a tunnel portal. As I was standing at the end of the spit of land, a BNSF freight popped out of it. I was fumbling to change film in the camera, and missed a great shot of the lead engine, in BNSF Orange (or, as some prefer it, Omaha Orange), as it stood framed in the portal, with its nose just catching the sunlight. AARGH! That still hurts! I hadn't even heard the diesels until just before the first one cleared the tunnel.



THE MODEL RAILROAD

 

This page shows both Powder River and Shobon Junction, separated by about 80 miles in reality, and by maybe six feet on the layout (that's called "selective compression").  

The plan for these spots:

On this diagram, west is towards the left, and east is towards the right. The right end of the mainline is coming from Casper, and at the left it is proceeding west towards Shobon.

Powder River is represented only by some stock pens. The actual town is three or four miles further west. Stock shipping is a very seasonal business, and of course uses stock cars. Since stock has special handling requirements (periodic feeding, watering and exercizing), little if anything else was shipped on a stock train.  So most trains will pass Powder River by without even slowing. There isn't even a team track here. 

Shobon, as I stated earlier, is the junction point where the CB&Q splits from the CNW, with the Burlington going north through Wind River Canyon to Thermopolis, and the CNW heading southwest about 23 miles to the end of track in Riverton. In this diagram, the CNW is the red track that heads off the line from Powder River and into a tunnel at the left end of the central peninsula on the layout.

The scenery in this area of the layout will be semi-arid high plains, with tall, separated clumps of grass mixed in liberally with a lot of sagebrush and tumbleweeds. If one looks closely, one might see a jackrabbit or twenty in amongst the sagebrush, and maybe even a small herd of Antelope. 

Right after passing Shobon, as one approaches the Wind River Canyon, one sees less sagebrush and more grasses and even a few trees, as the Wind River is very close by. The Boysen Reservoir and Dam are prominent scenic features in this area.

Back to Casper

On to Wind River Canyon!

Wyoming Main

Lines

Powder River History

Powder River Industries

Home