Tennessee Pass

I prefer 1:1.3 scale. However, since I can't visit "Grande-land" as often as I want to, I have to do the next best thing and recreate Colorado in my house.


I've planned a few different projects over the past year: Tennessee Pass in N, 3rd Division in HOn3, and the San Juan Extension from Alamosa to Chama in F scale (backyard). However, after spending a few months touring layouts of different scales, operating for the first time, and making some new friends that are experienced professionals, I've made up my mind on location and scale. I simply can't do everything that I want to do at this time and am going to build a somewhat modest N scale layout.


Tennessee Pass will be an N scale shelf layout representing the 2nd Division from Pueblo to Grand Junction. However, only Malta to Minturn and Leadville will be modeled. Pueblo and Grand Junction will be represented by staging yards. Iím setting the layout in September 1985. I have been gathering equipment and rolling stock since 2006. Construction began in the fall of 2008.


Tennessee Pass is my first model railroad project. I chose this location and time because it's far cheaper and easier to get equipment than other locations and scales I've looked at.


My favorite railroad is, of course, the Rio Grande. However, having grown up in Houston, I've always been a Southern Pacific fan. I clearly remember seeing SP Tunnel Motors roar through Livingston, TX while visiting my grandparents in east Texas as a kid. Modeling Tennessee Pass in the mid-80's will let me run equipment from both railroads and remain prototypically correct. However, prototypical or not, armor yellow will RARELY be seen on the layout (unless of course it's labeled Missouri Pacific). I can look out my office window and see UP amour yellow go by just about every hour, so thereís no need to have it on MY railroad.


The layout starts at chest level and makes several revolutions around my office on 2 shelves. The highest point is just above eye level and features the tunnel and yard at Tennessee Pass. Malta and Minturn will anchor the ends of the road with visible, fully modeled yards. Pueblo and Grand Junction will have multi-track hidden balloon loops for storage and continuous running. Belden, Red Cliff, and Pando will also be featured on the layout to allow for lots of local switching opportunities. Pando was the location of Camp Hale, a US Army training location during WWII. Having served as a Marine, I'm going to take some creative license and make this a Marine Corps Base called Camp Potter (named in honor of Master Gunnery Sargent Thomas Potter, one of my mentors in the Corps). Unlike the current day remains of Camp Hale, Camp Potter will be a vibrant and active location requiring constant locals from Minturn.


I was given a half-way completed 4X8 layout with a small yard and several loops of track on 2 decks. I built a table for it outside of my office and have re-worked the track layout to roughly represent Leadville and several mines on the C&S. A branch will be constructed from the wye in Malta to connect to the two segments of the railroad. This addition dramatically increases the scope of what Iím trying to do and the operational potential.


I've been dreaming of a layout like this since I was a kid and can't believe I'm actually getting to do it. I've chosen a project that I think will be fairly easy to achieve in a reasonable amount of time with a reasonable amount of money. We'll see how it goes...