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. As 2019 began, management made the decision to rejoin the upper and lower decks. The layout supports up to 8 operators.
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, an 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.