Layout construction began in the fall of 2008. Extensive redesign took place in 2013 to improve the track plan for better operations. The current layout is spread between two rooms and was constructed with wide aisles to comfortably accommodate operators and visitors.
In 2018, the layout underwent another redesign, completely separating the upper level from the lower level. The lower level continues to exist as the Eagle River Division, and is the primary operating layout. The upper deck will became a MOPAC-based layout set in the 1950’s-60’s era, with 40 ft. boxcars, F-units, Alcos and early GEEPS. The main lower deck supports up to 8 operators, while the separated upper level only accommodates up to 2 people. Operations will not occur on both levels at the same time, as the two levels now represent entirely separate layouts.
Lower (main) Level: Eagle River Division, Nineteen-Seventies Era
Upper Level: Missouri Pacific Molina Sub, Nineteen-Fifties – Nineteen-Sixties Era
Train Operations on Main Layout
Lenz digital command control is used for power management and train detection. Signals are managed over a CTI-Electronics network. Both systems interface with a personal computer running JMRI. Most consists include at least one sound-equipped locomotive. Other ambient sounds may be heard around the layout.
The layout’s linear track plan includes one large classification yard, and interchange with other railroads, and a couple of small local yards. An era-appropriate computer-based centralized traffic control (CTC) system and dispatcher-controlled signals manage mainline train movement. A telephone intercom system is provided for communication between the dispatcher, the yardmaster, and various layout locations.
Car forwarding is managed using JMRI Operations software in “real time”. Some manifests and switch lists are generated during the operating session. They are formatted and printed using Manifest Creator software.
Up to 8 operators assemble to operate the railroad. Operating sessions are held about every 6 weeks. While numerous commodities are transported across the system, visitors and operators will see an abundance of grain and grain products moving in covered hoppers. Other commodities transported include coal, merchandise, machinery, refrigerated perishables, and general freight. Current layout operations are focused on local switching and yard operations, with no manifest freight or passenger service during sessions.
Train Operations on Secondary Layout (Upper Deck)
The upper level is designed for 1 or 2-person operation. It has more of a small branch line feel. There is one East and one West-bound staging track located at the west end of the layout, and a small yard at the east end of the layout. A Cargill plant represents the largest industry along the Missouri Pacific mainline. Lenz digital command control is used for power management and train detection. As with the main layout, car forwarding is managed using JMRI Operations software. Train manifests are formatted and printed with Manifest Creator software.