Welcome to the Eagle River Division

“Where the Firefly and the Eagles Soar

The decade of the 1970’s is represented on the layout – an era in which railroading itself witnessed a lot of changes. Just a couple of short blocks from my childhood home, high-hooded no-frills MoPac GP7s and brand-new GP38-2s went about their daily chores. They would pass the old Maplewood Station and then rumble over the concrete Marshall Avenue viaduct.. Nothing was more powerful than seeing a trio of Jenk’s blue Geeps peaking out from behind the trees and roaring over that old white stucco-covered viaduct as you stood near the foot of it, the ground shaking beneath your black and white Keds (the tennis shoes everyone wore before Converse, and then Nike came on the scene). West-bounds would head toward Webster Groves. They were just minutes away from passing that historic station and tackling Missouri Pacific’s notorious 1.5% grade at Kirkwood, Missouri, as they continued on to Jefferson City, then West to Kansas City and beyond.

A few blocks away, in the opposite direction, Frisco’s busy Lindenwood Yard was a beehive of activity. Many nights I went to sleep to the rhythm of squealing brakes, banging couplers, and the low growling and rumbling of mandarin-orange and white diesel yard switchers. There were still a few black units with yellow stripes, but it was the “red” and white ones that got my attention. There was just no better place to grow up for a young rail-fan who was totally fascinated with trains!

In 1975, the Frisco System was reorganized into the pre-1963 divisions: Eastern, Northern, Southern, Western, Southwestern, and River. The St. Louis Sub-Division of Lindenwood Yard to Chaffee was one of the two sub-divisions; the other being the Chaffee Sub. My layout was inspired partly by operations on Frisco’s River Division. The name for the layout resulted from combining the Missouri Pacific Lines (Route of the Eagle) with the Frisco’s River Division. Put the two together, and you get my fictitious Eagle River Division. Throw in The Katy (The Missouri-Kansas-Texas RR) just for kicks, and you see the inspiration for the Eagle River Division logo, designed for me by my talented son, Jake.

The layout is located in a basement room which is approximately 20 ft wide and 35 ft long. It is a double-deck layout, with 1 staging yard and 2 working yards. Lafayette is the easternmost yard and Waldo is to the west (Think St. Louis and Kansas City). All location names are fictitious. The staging yard is named South Park Terminal (rather than Cape Girardeau). Other town names along the route are Oak Hill (served by the Katy), Riverside, Eagle Jct, Westburg, Hoegaarden, and Ferritin.
South Park Terminal serves as staging for Frisco, MOP, and TRRA trains. The Katy has its own small staging area.

If you count that 4 x 8 sheet of plywood on legs that served as the base for my Lionel 027 track many years ago (and why wouldn’t you?), I guess the Eagle River Division is about my fifth layout. It is my fourth layout in HO-scale, and the second layout that I’ve constructed in the last 10 years. This one was built for hosting operating sessions of 7 or so model railroaders, including myself. While there is no such thing as the perfect layout, this one seems to be good enough.

After several op sessions, and a couple of minor reconfigurations to the track, the layout is ready for some serious scenery building. We recently abandoned car cards and waybills in favor of using JMRI Operations software to build switch lists and manifests.  Update: August 2015 – Decided to go back to car cards and waybills for various reasons. Update: May 2016 – Revisited using JMRI to create manifests and switch lists. Finally made up my mind to ditch the car cards and waybills. Using JMRI and loving it!

Thanks for stopping by!

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