Click here for a few pictures of Pat Smith's G scale outdoor layout.
Cajon Pass (HO).
The Cajon Pass is the primary gateway to and from the Los Angeles basin across the mountains in south-central California.
My HO modeling of Cajon Pass is set in 1960 when it still had only two mainlines.
Both the real Pass and my layout have very little switching, but LOTS of heavy mainline through-trains with helpers added and cut off at various locations.
I have always been attracted to the Santa Fe Railroad and western scenery. In fact, in the 1950's my dad and I had a "large" 10 x 10 American Flyer Santa Fe layout.
I waited for years to get going on my own setup but lots of other things kept interfering. But I told my wife that someday I would have a "killer" layout...you'll see!!
After building our home in 1997 (a roof to keep water off the trains) I asked a friend of mine, Stephen Priest, to draw a plan for the basement. Stephen is uniquely qualified in all the world to do this.
He has been an architect, engineer and conductor on the Santa Fe system. He has written numerous books and is the current editor of Scale Rails for the NMRA. His layout was featured with a cover story in Model Railroader a few years ago.
My layout is basically a point to point from Los Angeles to Barstow with extensive staging planned. There is also a continuous run available. But the real action is the trains as they struggle to crest the Pass at Summit.
Leaving San Bernardino heading east and Barstow heading west helpers are added with separate crews to keep it interesting. At Summit the helpers are usually, but not always, cut off and return to their base. Sometimes they need to stay on for downhill breaking.
Throw in lots of traffic with slow 3% grade speeds and things get complicated. Add in major yards to build up and break down the trains and deal with entrances from staging and you soon see that a lot of people will be busy.
I have made about six trips to the Pass and have found the researching and history to have been one of the most rewarding areas of this entire project. The more I learn, the more I find that I don't know!