W. Fairview Road, Marshall

At Marshall (MN) there is a cluster of small industries along W. Fairview Road that represent good options for inclusion on my DME model railroad. All but one are rail-served.

The largest of the industries in this cluster is the grain elevator (now ADM but I think may have been something else several years ago). This is not the giant ADM processing facility that used to be Minnesota Soy Co-operative (MSC).

Reinhart Food Services is situated on the other side of the tracks to the grain elevator and is not rail-served. Nevertheless, it is a nice looking industrial building and I am likely to include it on the layout.

Across the road from Reinhart is Alter Metal Recycling with a rail-served spur for loading scrap metal into gondolas. This is a great industry for the model railroad.

Across the rail line from the scrapyard is a nice looking wooden dock. I don’t know the name of the business that used this dock so I plan on creating a small industry that would receive loads in box cars. Alternatively, I could possibly use it as a team track.

Lastly, just around the corner from these industries is the iconic Marshall water tower which I will look at fitting on the layout. Water towers are great signposts for towns on model railroads.

W. Fairview Road with this little quadrant of industries offers a great variety of operational interest for the model railroad.


Ivanhoe, Minnesota

My model railroad of the Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern (DME) has three towns on the lower deck. The first town out of staging and heading in an easterly direction (to the left) is Ivanhoe, Minnesota.

The relative position of the towns on the lower deck can be seen from the plan. You can refer to my previous blog post if you need further explanation about the plan.

Positioning plan

The town of Ivanhoe in southwest Minnesota has a population of 560 (2013) which represents a decline of 17.5% since 2000. Ivanhoe is largely a service town supporting the surrounding agricultural community.  Ivanhoe has the mandatory midwest grain business and water tower. Ivanhoe is 29 kilometres (18 miles) to the west of the bigger town of Marshall (pop. 14,000, 2013) on Highway 19. Ivanhoe was served by a former CNW branchline from Tyler to Astoria (see map in previous blog post). Today, Ivanhoe remains a relatively small town typical of the area.

However, in my fictional history there is a busy rail line going through Ivanhoe on a west-east route from Brookings (SD) to Marshall (MN). In addition, with the fictional town of Rosa Park midway between Ivanhoe and Marshall, and with the extensive economic activity based in Rosa Park, Ivanhoe would have had a much bigger population than in reality. But for the purposes of the layout, Ivanhoe has a single spur serving a grain business on the fictional Brookings to Marshall line of the DME. I hope to add the water tower as well as I have a kit for that type of structure.

The layout diagram for Ivanhoe on my model railroad appears below.


The track crossing the doorway and continuing into Ivanhoe is the fictional DME line from Brookings. Brookings and subsequent towns up to Ivanhoe are represented by storage sidings in hidden staging. Remember that on my layout, west is on the right hand side and east is on the left hand side. To go east, is to go to your left!

On my layout Ivanhoe has a grain facility on a single spur. I am tossing up whether to have it represent a grain facility for bird seed as per the prototype Peterson Grain & Brokerage complex at Meriden near Waseca on the real DME. If so, I would name it Piersen Grain in memory of Joe Pierson from the CNW Historical Society who provided me with valuable CNW prototype information over many years before he passed away last year.

As the photos indicate below, trains leave the storage sidings (staging) and cross the doorway on a lift-out section. The tracks on the lift out section fork – the DME line goes to Ivanhoe and the BN/BNSF line goes to hidden staging behind Rosa Park.

The first photo shows the storage sidings (four diagonal tracks and one diagonal run through track), three straight sections on the right (two of which will cross over the doorway to join tracks on the other side), and a single line on the left which is the BN/BNSF line entering staging (actually, it has to cross over the doorway and veer to the right behind Ivanhoe to join seven hidden staging tracks on the other side of the layout behind Rosa Park). Where the spur ends on the left is where hidden storage begins. Up to there, the diagonal tracks will therefore be hidden behind a scenic backdrop.

Photo 1:


The second photo shows how the above set of tracks align on the edge of the layout by the doorway. Only three tracks cross over the doorway – the two on the left (red and green pins) and the single track on the right (blue pin). The stub ended tracks in between are used to store locomotives and are part of this side of staging.

Photo 2:


Photo 3 shows the (illustrative) lift-out section that brings both DME trains (from staging) and BN/BNSF trains from the lower level loop across the doorway. The track veering off to the left is for BN/BNSF trains to link up with hidden staging which, as I said, is behind Rosa Park. The track with the DME loco is where the DME trains enter the layout at Ivanhoe.

Photo 3:Liftout_temp

Photo 4 shows Ivanhoe with a main line, a spur on the right, and the line from Astoria and Hendricks on the left. The track on the right with the BN loco is how the BN/BNSF trains get around to BN/BNSF hidden staging. There are four tracks to the right of this line and these are DME staging for trains heading west (to the right). These four tracks are shown in Photo 5. The red and green pins (Photo 5) at the edge match the tracks from the other side of the doorway shown in photo 2.

Photos 4 and 5:


Photo 6 illustrates where the scenic backdrop will sit (illustrative) and its relationship to the BN/BNSF line and DME hidden staging. Above and behind the scenic backdrop will be the upper level, stepped back from the front as you can see.

Photo 6:

Ivanhoe_curved backdrop

To enhance operations at Ivanhoe I have fictionalised that the former south-north CNW line from Ivanhoe to Astoria remained operational, serving an ethanol plant and grain facilities at Hendricks (between Ivanhoe and Astoria) and grain facilities and farm supplies at Astoria as well (all fictional). This fiction is necessary to give the necessary economics for the line to remain in existence. I use a removable cassette to represent this branchline. The original (prototype) Ivanhoe grain facilities on the former CNW branchline are also represented as being off-stage on the removable cassette. At this stage I plan to run DME trains but the option is also available to have this section run by a shortline operator, of a type like the Nebraska Northeastern.

After leaving Ivanhoe, the track makes the customary model railroad turn back on a 30 inch radius curve leading into the fictional town of Rosa Park. I have always said that if I made a US-themed model railroad layout that I would have a town named Rosa Park named after Rosa Parks. Rosa Park is a major source of traffic on the layout.

The town of Rosa Park will be showcased in the next blog post.

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.