Situating the prototype DME and the layout

As I stated in the previous blog post, I want to begin to describe the individual locations on my Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern (DME) prototype inspired layout as currently constructed. I had intended to start off with a description of staging and the town of Ivanhoe, South Dakota. However, some friends asked me to provide a broader geographical perspective before going into the individual components that make up the lower deck of the layout (and the only deck at this stage). And they also asked me to explain how I am modelling the former Chicago & North Western (CNW) line from Evan to Marshall in Minnesota when the lower deck does not represent this line!

The map below shows the rail lines and key towns that relate to my layout, both real and fictional.

Geographic plan001The map shows the section of the former CNW west-east rail line from Rapid City (SD) to Winona (MN) that was taken over by the DME in 1986. In addition, relevant former CNW branch lines that were closed and abandoned before the DME came into existence are shown as well. These lines are:

  •  Tyler to Astoria through Ivanhoe
  • Marshall to Taunton and beyond through Ghent and Minneota
  • Marshall to Evan and onto Redwood Junction
  • Redwood Falls to Redwood Junction through Evan

These four lines all existed at one time or another. For example, the line from Marshall to Evan closed in 1977 if my information is correct. In real life, there were also other ex-CNW branch lines in the map area but I have omitted them as they do not necessarily impact on the layout.

My fictional history includes a line from Brookings (SD) to Marshall (MN) via Ivanhoe. Thus, Ivanhoe has two lines going through town which is probably a tad excessive for the size and nature of the town. I simply claim modeller’s license. The line continues through Marshall to Evan along the former CNW route. I call this the “DME deviation” which is of course totally fictional and based on the imaginative rationalisation that new agricultural industries emerged to sustain the economics of the line up to and beyond the birth of the DME.

The model railroad therefore seeks to represent the line from Ivanhoe (SD) eastward through Marshall and along the former CNW line to Evan, rejoining the DME “main line” at Redwood Junction which is offstage. Marshall allows me to have an interchange with the Burlington Northern/BNSF Sioux City line, as well as featuring the Minnesota Soy Processors Co-op (MSC) industrial complex in Marshall. I have actually combined Minnesota Soy Processors Co-op (MSC) with ADM to allow rolling stock from both companies to be used. In reality, ADM took a 30% stake in MSC in 1997 and took full control in a takeover approved by federal authorities in 2002. In addition, I like running BN/BNSF coal trains which I can do on the layout as coal moves from the Powder River Basin to eastern destinations.

However, the lower deck only has the real towns of Ivanhoe and Marshall, as well as a fictional town in between called Rosa Park. In addition, I have included an “offstage” branch line connection from Ivanhoe north-west to Hendricks and Astoria, which is represented on the layout with a planned lift-out or drop-down section that can hold one train. I have also included an offstage connection from Marshall for the DME (on the curve) to Ghent and Minneota (four track hidden staging). The lower deck therefore features only three visible towns, all of which culminate in the main yard at Marshall for the DME and the MSC/ADM industrial complex for the BN/BNSF. An outline of the position of the towns on the layout (lower deck) is included below.

Positioning planAs described in the previous blog post, the area behind the red line (closest to the walls) will be the position of the upper deck. Much of this area is taken up by hidden staging on the lower deck as indicated above. The position of the DME and BN tracks is indicated and you will see where they cross just to the left of Rosa Park. This area is not representative of the prototype and is located in a “staging box” to avoid seeing the anomaly. All hidden staging will have detectors and I am planning on also experimenting with those small rear view cameras and monitors added to cars to improve rear vision.

Where the DME and BN lines run parallel to each other through Marshall, the BN is on the inside. The DME line curves away from the BN line and towards the garage doors (behind the red line in the diagram) to link up with DME staging. This hidden single line connection behind the MSC/ADM complex enables a continuous circuit. This is temporary until the upper deck gets built. Note also that the BN line is a continuous run, visible when it comes out of BN staging into the curve around the peninsula into Marshall, and covering off all three sides of the town of Marshall before returning to BN staging across the doorway and into a single track between the visible Ivanhoe and hidden DME staging. The next blog post will make this positioning clearer.

The planned top deck will see trains run east from Marshall to Evan. On my layout I had to make the compromise that trains running east actually go to one’s left as you stand in front of a particular point on the layout. Moving between the two decks will occur between the garage doors and the MSC/ADM complex using Woodland Scenics foam risers with a grade of 4%. As this section is hidden, but still accessible via the garage doors, the steep grade won’t be a visual problem. And as I will be using double-headed diesel locomotives hauling 10-12 freight cars, the grade shouldn’t be a problem for the trains. At this stage, only the real town names of Marshall, Wabasso, and Evan will be used, with one or possibly two fictional towns (Ronald and Galbraith) as composite towns. I am still debating whether to include Redwood Falls as a branch line terminus or not. But as the second deck is something for the future, I won’t go into any detail yet.

Hopefully, by studying the map you can get a better understanding of how the layout is situated geographically within southwest Minnesota and southeast South Dakota. The layout drawing gives you a positional representation of the features on the lower deck.

The next blog post will look at staging and the town of Ivanhoe.