Manageable and modelable
How many times have you visited a model railroad with one terminal representing Chicago and another named for a city hundreds of miles away? At a moderate pace, it usually takes only a few minutes to traverse even a relatively large layout. Gee, from Denver to San Francisco and I've got half a beer left - and it's still cold! Even television's short-lived Supertrain couldn't make a trip like that. Maybe that's why so many modelers prefer to take an alternate approach. Quite often, a portion of a mainline operation is represented, where one primary terminal handles the bulk of the switching and other larger terminals are implied as the trains pass through a few small towns and disappear into the scenery. Another common approach to achieving credibility in a scale-length railroad is to start with a branch line of a larger road. Then again, this often means sacrificing the service facilities and variety of equipment we seem to be attracted to. How about beginning with a short line railroad? That guarantees all the work trains and associated maintenance-of-way periphernalia outside the enginehouse, and if we always operate the railroad with the same caboose and four engines, that's OK 'cause that's all there is! For those of you looking for a practical prototype, this issue may be of interest.
This month's Prototype Profile features the Corinth & Counce Railroad company, located near the intersection of Mississippi, Tennessee and Alabama. The railroad operates a total of only 26 miles of track, including the 10-mile Yellow Creek branch built by the Tennessee Valley Authority, but CCR's management feels that their trim size is an advantage because it's relatively easy for them to keep track of operations on the entire railroad. "Manageable," is the term they use, but in the overall scheme of things it translates into "efficient," and that spells "profitable." The CCR is an admirable operation, whose 650 boxcars enjoy the highest car utilization rate in the country.
With three-man crews traversing the rail line from Corinth (Miss.) to Counce (Tenn.) and back twice a day, the point-to-point operation begs to be modeled. Imagine: yards with runarounds at both ends, a stub-end branch, and interchanges at Corinth with the Illinois Central Gulf and Southern railroads. The operational features alone provide the mainline running, wayfreight switching and yard work we modelers enjoy, and the railroad can be convincingly represented in a reasonable amount of space. With all necessary equipment either available ready-to-run or easily kitbashed in all major scales, the CCR provides a prototype for a truly classy, yet practical, model railroad. What more could a contemporary modeler ask for?
Editor, PROTOTYPE MODELER