Construction Progress – 2004
The yard is complete, but it goes nowhere at this time. This end will lead to Laurel, which will be mostly out of the picture to the left, on this same peninsula. From the turnout in the foreground, a turnback curve will lead right into the Laurel yard.
Standing where the helix will someday be, we're looking back along the beginnings of the town of Laurel on the left. In the distance you can see the two rolls of cork from which I cut roadbed. The larger roll is 1/4" thick, and is used for mainline trackage (hidden AND visible, and the smaller is 1/8" thick, and will be used for sidings, yards, etc. That way I'll get the level change one sees between main and secondary tracks.
The east end of Laurel is finally connected into the NP track that runs east to the Minneapolis staging yard. Just in front of the slight curve to the right in this view, I'll be cutting in a switch for the east end yard ladder. I'll be using Walthers' DCC-friendly turnouts, and they're not available until next month. I didn't want that to hold up tracklaying, so I'll just cut the turnout in when it arrives.
This is an overall view from the corner where Casper yard will begin into the opposite corner. On the nearest side of the foreground section of benchwork will be Shobon and Powder River, with a backdrop that will reach nearly to the ceiling. On the other side will be the Wind River Canyon, with its mountains reaching up to the ceiling (that's why the backdrop will be so high on the near side). Kind of an impressive-looking vista, isn't it?
The floor is also a lot cleaner than in most of the photos - after we got the old heating unit out of this room, my wife and I spent some time thoroughly cleaning most of the train area. Note that most of the stuff that was on the benchwork in the earlier photos is also gone (but as work continues, it will be back, I'm sure!).
The Thermopolis tables have been built! The two cork rolls are sitting where the NP mainline and Minneapolis yard will be located directly beneath Thermopolis. In the foreground you can see where the Wind River / Powder River peninsula tables extend to the right. Walt helped me get the Thermopolis tables and the Wind River Canyon / Powder River peninsula tables built. It took about four hours. Had I been working alone it would have taken three or four times as long. I really do appreciate Walt's help!
Here's the Wind River Canyon / Powder River peninsula, seen from the free end. We're looking along the Wind River Canyon side. The run through the Canyon is going to be about twenty feet of slightly meandering mainline following a river that flows about fifteen or so scale feet below. Mountains behind the track will reach up to the ceiling along the center of most of the peninsula. The size of this peninsula is really going to provide a breath-taking scene, if my scenery construction efforts do it any justice.
We're looking down the aisle alongside Laurel, which is off camera to the left. Directly in front will someday be the north end of Thermopolis. Right now we're looking at the baseboard for NP's Minneapolis staging tracks. The two track ends in the lower right of the picture come from Laurel and Seattle staging. The five tracks of Minneapolis staging will be added immediately to their left. I still hope to have the NP mainline loop functional by Christmas, though the staging yards won't be.
An overall view of the NP Mainline turnback curve at the east end of the Milwaukee staging yard. The track leading into the curve from the left comes directly from the west end of the Seattle staging yard. I would have combined Seattle and Milwaukee into one big yard, but it would have been a real nightmare building supports for the track that will float above the yard because of the yard width I would have needed. It will be bad enough with the yards as they are.