Building the Pacific & Eastern:
The Permanent HO Model Railroad
of the
Rogue Valley Model Railroad Club

Summit is the upper level area of the layout just inside the doors to the clubhouse. It represents the highest point in crossing the Cascades between Medford and Klamath Falls.  Preliminary surveys for the real Pacific & Eastern place this scene south of Mt. McLoughlin, near Brown Mountain.  On our P&E a logging branch was designed to take off from the main at Summit.  A long passing siding plus logging interchange track was also planned.  The main and siding of Summit loop 180º around a mountain. 

There are several challenges in building the scenery in this area.  First there is the need to minimize the effect of a 180º turn in the track right at the top of a mountain pass.  On the prototype, a mountain pass either goes through a saddle or a tunnel.  We opted against a tunnel so we needed to create a saddle.  As the main line leaves the switch at East Summit, it winds back into the benchwork to hidden trackage along the north wall of the clubhouse.  Again, not wanting to use a tunnel, we chose to hide this track's disappearance with scenery and, while we're at it, convey a sense of depth -- that the track keeps on going somewhere.  Finally, we wanted the scene to convey the essence of the mountain before the railroad arrived as well as credible construction techniques to punch the line through a pass. 

Click on images below for larger pictures

Early View of Summit
In 2006, Summit looked like this.  The west switch  (A) was the beginning of the siding which ran through the saddle (B).  Cardboard profiles are for evaluating future land forms. The logging branch interchange (C) hadn't been developed nor had the branch itself.  The east switch (D) was buried in a cut which kept getting deeper and deeper as the line continued east.  The main line finally poked out of the cut (E) and ran on down the backside as hidden trackage.  Medco (F) is below Summit and was taking shape.  An earlier rendition of the East Derby Gorge and bridge (G) are in the distance and show the two track bridge which was replaced. 

Photo by Jay Mudge
Below Summit -- Medco
Medco (F, but really the whole lower scene) was already well under development by the end of 2006.  The realization came that in order to efficiently work on East Summit, people were going to kneel and stand on the area around the wye and chip loader.  Hence, the decision to put Medco on hold and work on East Summit.
East Summit takes shape
The East Summit scene finally started to evolve, after much carving and stacking of foam blocks...followed by unstacking, more carving and restacking of foam blocks (repeated several times over.)  The trench is gone.  The main line cuts through a small ridge (to the left of the yellow box car) and enters another drainage.  The rest of the train and the drainage are going downhill away from the viewer.  Another hill rises to the left.  No tunnel will be needed to conceal the track's disappearance.  
Summit/East Summit area
East Summit is on the left.  The main (inside track) and passing siding curve around and through a cut.  The upper level logging loop's sub-roadbed has been built.

Construction Notes:  This scene is a combination of foam and cardboard strip/paper towel/plaster land forms.  Some of us got tired of messing with foam and resorted to hot gluing cardboard strips together and layering hycrocal soaked paper towels over them.  It seemed faster, less messy and definitely made it easier to remodel a scene if necessary. 
Summit topography
Following the mantra, "What did this look like before the railroad came through," we frequently checked our developing scenes with a long straight stick (dark red line).  Note how it can be laid across the terrain and the railroad appears to have been carved into land that's been there for eons.   The sub roadbed for the logging branch is noted "Log Branch". 
Summit -- Looking towards the saddle
Looking to the right (railroad west) from the scene.   Summit's west switch (A) is just out of sight to the right.  The saddle (B) has been formed and the logging line interchange track has diverged from the main.  A small interchange yard (C) marks the beginning of the logging branch. 
Summit -- Logging branch & Interchange
Looking back from the saddle, the logging branch winds up the hill while the main and siding start down.  Sub roadbed for the logging loop is also visible, including a small timber trestle. 
Uphill towards Summit
Loose rock and trees, lots of trees, bring the scene to life.   A west bound reappears from hidden trackage around a cliff and past a grove of aspens. 
Through the cut at East Summit
Through the cut and over the switch at East Summit.  The clear cut in the foreground was planned in order to make a view window for main line trains.  As we put trees into scenes, we strive to plan where trains will be show cased and where they'll be hidden.  Imagine watching a full sized train moving through a forest in the mountains.
Past the clear cut
Across a short fill and small drainage.  Barely visible above the locomotive is a timber trestle on the logging branch. 
Aerial view of Summit
Aerial view of Summit.  To the right is the logging branch yard (C).  The branch snakes its way up the mountain above the main line to a loop (L) on the highest level.  The hidden main (E) is along the far wall. 
Model Railroad News Cover

It's every modeler's dream to see their work on the cover of a magazine.  We were delighted when Model Railroad News decided to photograph Summit and use it as the background to display the new Walthers GN Empire Builder.

Photo by:  Mike Lindsay and © 2007 by Model Railroad News  Used with permission

Caption:  Somewhere in the Pacific Northwest, the Great Northern's gorgeous Empire Builder passenger train winds through a picturesque canyon.  This scene was captured on the Rogue Valley Model Railroad Club's layout at the Railroad Park in Medford, Oregon.  Photographer Mike Lindsay appreciated the logging that has opened up this scene for his lens. 

Below:  The center spread.  Used with permission and 
© 2007 by Model Railroad News
Center Spread
Photos by Larry Tuttle except as noted.

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All photos and text © 2007 by the Rogue Valley Model Railroad Club