Lines – the northern pacific mainline
Top image: The East end of Laurel yard, showing the depot, in the foreground, In the background is one end of the Minneapolis staging yard. So you noticed the Atlantic Coast Line baggage car at the depot? Sorry about that.
This represents the Northern Pacific's transcontinental line through Montana. The only place this line sees the light of day on the layout is in the interchange yard at Laurel, on the inside of the inner peninsula. Basically, this line is used to store trains, and provides west end (Seattle) and east end (Minneapolis) staging yards. It gives me a way to run huge trains when I feel like it (though I won't get to see much of them when I do!). Because of my interest in the Great Northern Railway, this line, though representing the NP, will see a lot of GN equipment.
As you can see in this track plan, the only visible part of the entire NP is the Laurel yard and engine facility, where the CB&Q met the NP north of Wyoming. This entire line is all flat, and is the lowest set of tracks on the layout.
The big orange almost-oval to the left is the four-track helix, included here to show how the NP runs underneath it.
This line is a fancy staging setup for the north and south ends of the layout. I could have simply made the Frannie Cutoff (which will serve as both the connection from Frannie to Laurel and the connection from Orin east to Scottsbluff, Nebraska, and beyond) the lead into a Laurel staging yard that was just a return loop (like the CB&Q East line), and considered doing exactly that. But there are a few advantages to this more elaborate staging arrangement, not the least of which is that this staging track will be relative easy to get up and running quickly, since it is not scenicked except at Laurel, and all the track is on a single level (the lowest on the railroad). So as I start building the Frannie Cutoff and the main modeled parts of the line in Wyoming, I'll almost always have at least some limited operation with the NP Mainline. As more and more of the Wyoming Mainline is finished, the NP Mainline will slowly devolve into a purely staging operation. Still, Laurel should be a very interesting operating spot on the layout. Trains will come in from east and west staging areas, most of which will simply pass through, but some of which will drop cars bound down into Wyoming and points east through Nebraska (out through CB&Q East from Orin Junction - meaning around the Wyoming Main and back out the Frannie cutoff through Laurel, at this point representing Scottsbluff), and other trains will come off the Frannie Cutoff, with cars bound for east and west destinations. Not shown on this drawing is a double crossover on the west wall of the basement; if worse comes to worst, some trains from Frannie may have to take one of the resulting giant reversing loops (each yard will be in one reversing loop) to change direction.
There's really only one town on the NP Mainline:
Laurel. Only the junction between the Frannie Cutoff and the NP Mainline is modeled.