It seems like most of my peers within a 200-mile radius model actual locations. They do an outstanding job of replicating track plans as they existed in the small towns of Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma during the 1950s – 1980s. I have great admiration for their ability to recreate and model actual locations. I like to make stuff up, so I took a slightly different approach with the Eagle River Division. I based the layout on actual railroads of Missouri (Frisco, Mopac, and Katy) and on a geographic location (the bottom half of the state of Missouri), but elected to change the names of all the locations on the layout while using real location names for off-layout destinations.
Here is a complete list of the location names on the Eagle River Division, from West to East:
So, where in the world is Waldo? Well, on the Eagle River Division it is the western-most point on the layout. It serves as a staging area for east-bound Missouri Pacific trains. (Waldo is an actual neighborhood in Kansas City.)
Westburg is just east of Waldo, along the Missouri Pacific mainline on the upper level of the layout. I wanted operators to have a strong clue that they were at the west end of the layout. One of three long passing sidings on the layout is located at Westburg.
Traveling a bit further east on the MOP, we come to the very small town of Coldwater. The only stop on the railroad here is a siding with an old grain elevator that usually just gets one covered hopper. Coldwater is located right where the water supply comes in through the basement wall. How could I possibly name this location anything else?
When planning the layout, I knew that a large brewery (okay – an HO-scale micro brewery) would occupy a big part of the area at this location. About that time, my son Justin texted me a photo of a Hoegaarden beer he was enjoying somewhere in Japan. I bought a six-pack next time I was at the store, and liked it enough to name a location after it. Besides, a brewery in Hoegaarden should generate more rail traffic possibilities than a winery in Hermann. There is another passing siding here on this Mopac-served route.
At the east end of where the Hoegaarden siding rejoins the main is a junction where trains can proceed to the lower level of the layout. This is known as Summit Junction because it is at the top of the grade which joins the two levels.
Riverside Junction is located just east of the town of Riverside. This is where the upper-level MOP right-of-way connects to the joint Frisco/MOP mainline of the lower level.
Pardon the pun, but at Riverside Junction we need to “back-track” a little to catch the two southern-most locations located on the layout’s lower level. Riverside is just south of Riverside Junction and South Park is after that. River Cement, a large cement factory, is located at Riverside. Riverside is along the mighty Mississippi. You are standing knee deep in the mud as you face River Cement. East is to your right everywhere on the layout except when you get to the Illinois side where everything is backwards. (hmmm – I wonder if that was not just a coincidence.)
When it came to picking a name for a location in the Southeastern part of Missouri, along the banks of the Mississippi, I wanted a name that would let operators know they were headed South. South Park popped into my head right after thinking about fried chicken, watermelon, great southern biscuits, and mouth-watering barbecue – none of which made good location names. South Park is both a staging yard and a classification yard in that it is primarily a Frisco yard, but at the beginning of a typical session, a couple of North/East-boundMOP trains occupy the main at South Park.
Sulphur Springs is not located along the main-line, but is connected directly to River Cement. Sulphur Springs Quarry is located just east of the plant, and provides aggregate to the cement factory as well as a couple of concrete distributors located nearby.
Continuing east from Riverside Junction (remember, this is where the upper level MOP tracks connect to the Frisco/MOP mainline of the lower level), we come to Eagle Junction. Eagle Tower protects the diamond here, where tracks of the M-K-T cross the Frisco/MOP at grade. From here, the Katy (M-K-T) tracks go east to Oak Hill and west to Katydid, while the Frisco mainline continues east to Iron Junction. At Iron Junction, MOP tracks continue north-eastward to Illinois, and the Frisco/MOP mainline continues east to Lafayette.
Lafayette is the eastern-most yard on the layout, and serves as a staging yard for Mopac, Frisco, and TRRA trains. Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette was a French aristocrat and military officer who fought for the United States in the American Revolutionary War. A close friend of George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and Thomas Jefferson, Lafayette was a key figure in the French Revolution of 1789 and the July Revolution of 1830. A street and a square are named in honor of Lafayette in St. Louis. I wanted a French-sounding name that was in some way associated with St. Louis, and Lafayette had a nicer ring to it than Gilbert or Marquis. Chouteau was considered, but it is just too easy to misspell.
Now that we’ve visited the eastern-most yard, we can pick up from Iron Junction and proceed to Ferritin City, Illinois. We make a brief stop at Granite Summit to unlock the turnout, which we will need local control of to perform our switching manuevers at Lego Steel. To the east of Lego Steel is the Ferritin City Industrial Park. Lego Steel is serviced by the Missouri Pacific and the industrial park is serviced by the Terminal Railroad of St. Louis (TRRA), using Mopac right-of-way. The Steel job train begins the session at South Park, while the TRRA is staged in Lafayette. As we mentioned earlier, Ferritin City is on the Illinois side, where things are backwards. What we mean by that is that east is to your left in Ferritin.
There you have it. When you are operating the Eagle River Division and someone asks “Where in the World is Waldo”, just send them west on the upper level. These simple system maps can be found attached to the fascia at many locations.