Monday, July 28, 2008

Tower 17 Rosenberg, Meeting of Two Giants

As I was chatting with Denny "Oh Wise Guru" Turani from Italy the other day, he asked me which prototype railroad am I going to model. Denny is modelling Southern Pacific (SP / Espee) Coast Line in Central California from Callender to Surf in N-scale. As you can see in his Southern Pacific Coast Line in N scale blog, he is doing an excellent job in modelling realistic operations.

I always like and want to model Union Pacific. I love their Armor Yellow livery and their range of steam and diesel locos - some of the largest locos such as the EMD DD40AX and the famous Big Boy (Alco 4-8-8-4 Mallet). UP also happens to the one of the two American railroads that retained its original name since its inception (Kansas City Southern (KCS) is the other one)

I also like, to some extent, BSNF or more towards its predecessor Sante Fe (SF). And, greedy me. I also want to incorporate Amtrak since they are the national passenger carrier.

Now, where can I find all 3 in one location? Wes Carr's photos of Tower 17 Rosenberg in Texas caught my eyes. Thanks to Google Map, I zoomed to Rosenberg, Texas. A potpourri of the Class 1 railroads, West of Mississippi. There are a few UP and BNSF subdivisions operating around that area with both UP and BNSF having trackage right on each other's track from Rosenberg to Houston and to Galveston. To model this on N-scale over 11ft x 12ft room will be an interesting sight.

Source: Texas Department of Transportation (BNSF - Green; UP - Red)

During the weekend, I found the Houston Freight Rail Study plan in the Texas Department of Transportation. Yee Haw! This detailed study is what I have been looking for. The study was to improve the freight movements around Greater Houston and yes, it fits my bill. Information about geographical limit, length, traffic volume and profile as well as operating railroad(s) for each subdivision are all here.

Source: Google Earth

The focal point of my layout (tentatively named "Rosenberg Meet") is Tower 17. It was the last manned interlocking tower in Texas, closed in February 2004. BNSF Galveston subdivision which stretches from Temple to Virginia Point (Galveston) and UP Glidden subdivision which stretches from Harrisburg Junction (near Houston) to San Antonio crosses each other at Tower 17. Wes Carr wrote about A Day at Tower 17 while Stephen Foyt recounted the train movements at Tower 17 over a 24 hour period. Amazingly, during its last operating days this Tower was buzzing with train activities and definitely a railfanning spot. In that 24 hour slot, there were 77 train movements as reported by Stephen.

AMTK – 1
KCS/TM – 1
BNSF – 34
UP – 41

Now, I just need to build up the locomotive roster and rolling stocks to to match that list. My layout will cover the triangle zone bordered by UP Glidden, BNSF Galveston and UP Galveston with the 2 focal points at Tower 17, Rosenberg and Galveston intermodal terminal at Galveston. As these routes cross the flat plains of South Texas, there won't be challenging mountains to climb. Grade will be minimal. It will be more downgrade from Rosenberg to Galveston (sea level)

Join me as I research more about the railroads, its routes and movements and present them in 1:160 form on my "Rosenberg Meet" layout.

Robert Chapman's Rosenberg
Tower 17 Rosenberg Webshots
Rosenberg Railroad Museum and Tower 17
Rosenberg RR Museum
William Davis Jr's Information on Tower 17
Russell Straw's Photos of Tower 17 and other SP Towers (the man with the keys to Tower 17)
Wes Carr's Photos of Tower 17 Rosenberg (the photo that started my Tower 17 hunt)

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