Mountain House, Nordegg & Pacific Railway
-- Scenic Details
Photos 20 - 31 by Ross Crain 1998 - 2002, 32 - 46 by Joan Elmont
20: RMH,N&P RR 0-6-6-0 Mallet #104 pulls the "CattleLiner"
past Stoney Creek Mill. Above, Gorre and Daphetid 0-4-0 Porter
#2, the "John A", chuffs by with the daily freight.
This portion of the model railway is dedicated to the late John
Allen, who inspired me (and thousands of others) to improve their
modeling skills well past the toy train stage. The locomotive
is an LGB Porter with custom lettering made on a copy machine.
The boxcar is from the NMRA Heritage series, and the caboose is
scratch built, with complete interior - including eggs frying
for the crew breakfast.
Photo 21: Close-up of the G&D train. The scenery is styrofoam
with a plywood underframe for the trackbed. Snow is standard Christmas
decoration as are many of the trees. This train runs on an independent
loop of track, alternating with a Grizzly Flats open air (brrrr)
excursion train. The two trains pass at a siding with an automatic
circuit with realistic momentum to eliminate sudden starts and
22: RMH,N&P 2-6-0 Mogul #19 pulls into Gorre station on trackage
in west central Alberta, Canada. Some RMH,N&P rolling stock
is leased from D&RG and C&S, so they have not been repainted
or renumbered. Most buildings on the railway have lighted and
representational interiors, so that you can see "action"
through the windows.
23: A posed shot at Gorgeous Gorge bridge with a RMH,N&P RR
freight headed for Banff Springs. Next is the RMH,N&P excursion
train pulled by 2-8-0 Consolidation #268 stopped at Inspiration
Point for the photographers on board. Above is the G&D daily
freight at Devils Gulch, and barely discernible in the distance,
the Mystic Ridge Express bores through the mountains. This latter
train is actually O scale instead of G scale to give the illusion
of greater distance.
24: C&S 2-6-0 Mogul, on lease to the RMH,N&P, approaches
Rocky Mountain House station. Departing lovers kiss goodbye. Workers
load freight. Loiterers loiter. The Town of Rocky Mountain House
is in the middle distance and Cow Creek Yard is at the rear. The
backdrop painting of the Rocky Mountains extends more than 60
feet along two walls of the railway room. Sharp eyes may discern
Glass Divide, a mirror that doubles the yard and backdrop to the
left of the photo.
25: Another view of Rocky Mountain House, east of the previous
photo. Mogul #8 is about to take on water, after which it will
head across Gorgeous Gorge to Tinytown and Banff Springs. Engine
servicing facilities are hidden by the passenger cars parked just
behind the freight train. All trains stop here when running in
automatic mode. Cow Creek East Yard is in the background, nestled
at the base of Castle Mountain.
26: The local freight is "in the hole" waiting for the
RMH,N&P "Rocky Mountaineer" to pull into Nordegg
station. These trains pause at the station and pass each other
automatically when the railway is in automatic (show-and-tell)
mode. Mystic Ridge is in the far background. The RMH,N&P excursion
train is paused at Furlow (named after another of my modeling
heroes) at the right side of the photo. The Randy Andy Mine, owned
by one of the Crown Princes of Europe, delivers silver ore to
trucks or railway cars on the left. Floor to ceiling scenery adds
to the feeling of "being there", and is enhanced by
locomotive sound systems as well as ambient sound tapes playing
in various corners of the room.
27: A Bell Telegraph crew is stringing new wires - one of dozens
of mini-scenes that provide action on the railway. This one is
just north of Gorre station. The RMH,N&P excursion train is
creeping out of Gorre Tunnel towards Furlow and Inspiration Point.
At top left, the Grizzly Flats 0-4-2 "Chloe" waits patiently
for the G&D freight (barely visible in the rock cut at center
right) to pull into the passing siding.
Photo 28: Moguls meet at Nordegg. The railbus is peeking from
it's shed at the right. Careful attention to ballast, grass, weeds,
and trees give an illusion of realism that is hard to achieve
in smaller scale model railroads. People, animals, and vehicles
bring life to the scene. Add sound and motion and you can virtually
smell the real thing as it rumbles by. Three different tape recorders
play sounds of birds, crickets, water flow, storms, distant trains
at work, loons, and wolves. Even with no trains running, the layout
is still alive.
29: The tail end of a mixed train leaves Nordegg, passing the
Randy Andy Mine on the right, headed through Gorre Canyon. Across
the canyon, Cow Creek Yard's diesel switcher #50 heads over North
Fork Bridge. High above is the O scale trackage spanning the upper
reaches of North Fork on a spindly steel trestle. The Mystic Ridge
Express runs only once a day, so it is difficult to catch it on
film while crossing the bridge.
30: Mainstreet in downtown Rocky Mountain House is a busy place.
The railway station is at the right, the rail yard directly behind
at right rear. In town a mechanic wreaks havoc on an auto engine
in the open air gas station, ladies of the night get some daylight
at the hotel, a farmer unloads his grain at the grain elevator
amid a herd of milk cows bellowing for their share - just like
real life in small town Alberta in 1934.
31: Overview of some of RMH,N&P RR territory taken from the
Stearman Biplane. Nordegg at left, Rocky Mountain House at center,
Tinytown and Banff Springs at right. Gorgeous Gorge and Devils
Gulch are in center above Rocky, with Mystic Ridge far behind.
Tinytown is built in N scale to represent a 1/8 scale model village
and ride-on train. A cog railway runs from Banff Springs to Sulphur
Mountain whereskiers and hikers catch the Gondola to higher peaks
(right rear of photo).
32: The Sulphur Mountain Gondola leaves the base station headed
to "The Top". The Sulphur Mountain cog tramway connects
this station to Banff Springs via a 35% grade. Skiers and sight-seers
can be found around the station and on the slopes. Gondolas of
this design still operate at Jasper, Alberta and more modern versions
run up the real Sulphur Mountain near Banff, Alberta.
33: Work Goose #6 sits waiting for orders at Stoney Creek Roundhouse.
The background mountains are a real photo of the Garden of the
Gods south of Denver, taken an a vacation trip. The round house
is a pair of kit-bashed and weathered Pola engine house kits.
The foreground is the car repair yard and is littered with spare
parts, a work bench, and assorted tools. The repair crew is on
coffee break according to Section 23.12.40 of the collective agreement.
34: In the bright early morning sun, Galloping Goose #2 passes
Nordegg water tower, holding up traffic on the Nordegg high road.
It will deliver mail and LCL freight to all points on the railroad.
The bikers in 1924 are very friendly and are patiently waiting
for the beer delivery man to unload his barrels from the horse
drawn wagon. Two Mercedes drivers rallying to an unknown destination
are frustrated by the delay, but their female companions seem
Photo 35: At Furlow Station, the smallest train station in the world,
the RMH,N&P excursion train slows for orders, while a lonely
elk looks on from the mountain side. The train will soon stop
at Gorgeous Gorge so passengers can admire the tremendous view.
While stopped at the Gorge, the RMH,N&P "Cattle Liner"
will pull in behind the excursion train and continue on to Stoney
Creek Mill and back to Banff Springs via the Spiral Tunnel - all
this is under automatic control when desired.
36: Rocky Mountain House Yardmaster, George Patrick, stands in
front of his tiny yard office. He will soon dispatch the crack
"Rocky Mountaineer" express, which will pick up passengers
at the station and run the full length of the railway. A double
headed freight is just pulling past the Sunchild Reserve, where
an RCMP officer is checking for contraband. Inhabitants of the
teepee have a gorgeous view of Gorgeous Gorge, just off screen
to the right. This photo was taken from the top of the RMH water
37: RMH,N&P's new 2-6-6-2 Mallet, purchased from the Sumpter
Valley and replacing Old #104, loafs past Banff Springs Station
and Hotel with the "Cattle Liner", headed for the Spiral
Tunnel. The cattle will be let out to graze in High Country until
fall. This is a pretty noisy trip as the curves are sharp, the
track is rough, and there is a sound unit in every car!
38: A really angry black bear chases the G&D freight train
that woke her from a deep sleep when the engineer blew the whistle
at an inappropriate location. A passenger on the caboose platform
waves her off, but this effort is futile - the bear never gives
up, but never catches up. (The tow wire won't let her.)
39: A dirty and forlorn Gramps tankcar sits in Cow Creek Yard
next to some cleaner refrigerator cars. Weathering is done with
dry poster paints, brushed on where dirt would normally collect.
The weathering will wash off completely if a pristine car is needed,
much like the real thing. A light spray of Dullcoat will hold
the dirt in place but makes it harder to clean up.
40: The "Nordegg Flyer", with double-headed wood-burning
Moguls, pulls into Nordegg Station. Snow on the mountains suggest
fall is approaching, with hints of the winter to come. The opposing
train will appear shortly, and will pause long enough for the
Flyer to make its journey on the single track mainline - all controlled
by automatic circuits leaving the owner/operator of the railway
time to visit with guests and passers-by.
41: The Gorre and Daphetid local freight trundles across Devil's
Gulch bridge, where it will pause (automatically) to unload freight
at the second-smallest station in the world. This train is my
memorial to John Allen, whose modeling and photographic skills
have influenced me for more than 50 years. He set the stage for
artistic scenery that is the backbone of hundreds, maybe thousands,
of model railways. Hardly an issue of Model Railroader fails to
mention his name as an inspiring force in our hobby.
42: The gallows-style turntable at Stoney Creek Roundhouse holds
RMH,N&P Climax #5 for a few moments while the engineer admires
the view over the Garden of the Gods. There is nothing like a
real photo for a backdrop to give that sense of depth found in
the real world. The turntable is built on a lazy susan and is
rotated manually, just like the original. The turntable pit floor
revolves with the turntable but most people don't notice this
strange mutation of the laws of physics.
43: At Banff Springs stone bridge the "Nordegg Flyer"
passes the "Cattle Liner". A dozen mini-scenes can be
found, from beach-bunnies, sheep with a shepherd, a sheriff fishing
beside a No Fishing sign, a pair of moose ogling each other (or
the beach bunnies), cranes and herons, to bears posing for photos.
Can you find the ducklings?
Photo 44: There is a lot of snow in Canada! Here at Stoney Creek
Mill, RMH,N&P 4-4-0 #27 pokes her nose off Stoney Creek Bridge on a
frosty December afternoon. Christmas presents and foodstuffs arrive
on foot, by horse-drawn buggy and by automobile. The track at right
heads off to the Spiral Tunnel down to the lower level. The backside
of Sulphur Mountain looms above the scene.
Photo 45: Passengers on the cog tram up Sulphur Mountain can look
back through a short tunnel at the Post Hotel. Beer and wine, good
food, zither music, and fantastic scenery greet the patrons here.
Photo 46: More snow - the gondola up Sulphur Mountain runs even in
near white-out conditions. Visitors to the log cabin and skiers on
the steep hills barely notice the minus 20 degree temperatures.