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Augusta Station

Missouri Kansas & Pacific N Scale
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Missouri Kansas & Pacific Line

This is a freelanced rail line operated by the BNSF extending from the industrialized Mississippi valley of eastern Missouri westward through Kansas into the Colorado Rockies. The Norfolk Southern and the CSX are in evidence at the eastern end of the layout on a portion of the layout representing a terminal railroad. Our mainline interchanges with a shortline populated by Arkansas & Missouri Alco locomotives. In the Colorado mountains, the line encounters the Union Pacific which then enjoys trackage rights at the western end of our route. The mainline also connects with a tourist railroad operating steam locomotives on a perilous climb to old mining towns. Amtrak traverses the entire layout.

Fictionalized history would have this lines 19th century origins in the construction of a railroad from the west bank of the Mississippi River to a connection with the Union Pacifics transcontinental line in Utah. While moving manufactured products from the east to the west the railroad was to tap the resources of the agricultural regions of Missouri, Kansas, and eastern Colorado as well as the mineral riches of the Rocky Mountains. This line came under control of the AT&SF early in the 20th century and today is part of the BNSF empire. The MK&P concept might be similar to one of those “what if” scenarios. What if the Santa Fe had not only beat the Rio Grande to the Raton Pass, but had also won the contest for the Royal Gorge route?

The layout is arranged in an east to west, right to left sequence just as it would be if you were looking at a map of this area. It begins in the east on a shelf against the wall and a peninsula depicting an industrialized urban setting occupied by a terminal railroad. In addition to it’s own trains those of first class railroads, both eastern and western, operate over these tracks. Despite their apparent complexity the urban tracks in reality are the exposed portion of a simple figure eight loop completed by staging tracks hidden behind the wall in a workshop.

The MKP mainline diverges from the terminal railroad and travels west through an interchange with a short-line railroad occupying a second, larger peninsula. This regional receives unit coal trains it then transfers to a power plant at the end of the line. The tracks of the power plant and the regional's yard are connected for a “loads-in-empties-out” operation. The other major on line customers of the short-line are a vegetable oil processing plant and a lead smelter. River bluffs typical of the Mississippi and Missouri river valleys and a high trestle crossing another river are scenic features of the line. While no attempt would be made to replicate the prototype, power for this regional would be Arkansas & Missouri Alco locomotives.

Continuing past the interchange, the MKP line enters the Missouri River town of Jefferson. The town and rail yard rest on a terraced hillside overlooking the river. The largest customer here is a cement factory located to the west of Jefferson. Other customers include a plastics fabrication company and a producer of wooden pallets. Jefferson also has a handsome passenger station where Amtrak stops.

Beyond Jefferson trains encounter a junction where tracks of a north/south route between Kansas City and the Gulf Coast crosses the MKP mainline. (In reality, these tracks connect the ends of the layout for continuous running.) Beyond the junction the MK&P route traverses Kansas and eastern Colorado. First stop on the MKP mainline is a Kansas town dominated by a “prairie skyscraper”. Beyond that lies a town on the Colorado plains with it's principle industry being a sugar beet processing plant. Continuing westbound trains enter the second major city on the layout. This location would, in some ways, resemble Pueblo, Colorado, with a steel mill being the dominant customer for the railroad. The plan also anticipates a small refinery, an inter-modal yard, and other, smaller customers. Amtrak would have a stop at the city's historic station. Upon leaving the Colorado city trains first enter a deep river gorge before climbing along rugged foothills. Continuing upgrade the tracks finally enter a tunnel which pierces the Continental Divide.

Upon exiting the tunnel trains pass into a wide mountain valley surrounded on one side by high buttes and forested peaks on the other. A branch line encountered here makes a long descent into a deep canyon which bisects this broad valley. The sole customer on the branch is a potash facility. The mainline keeps to high ground and passes over an imposing bridge which spans the same canyon and the branch line below. After crossing the bridge westbound trains enter a small town in ranching country. In an earlier era trains might have stopped here to pick up livestock destined for the feedlots of the Midwest. The railroad now has only a few minor customers here. Leaving the valley and ranches behind, tracks pass into alpine valleys. Customers are scarce in this area. The railroad does find an aggregates plant which dredges gravel from the valley floor. A mine and mill tucked against a canyon wall provides a few loads of lead and other non-precious ores.

An old mining town, it's mines long silent, has found new life as the location for two important branch lines. One branch  hosts unit coal trains going to and from a mine many miles distant. The second branch is a tourist steam railroad winding among peaks which dominate the mainline below. Silver mines in this area are long abandoned. Activity today revolves around summer vacationers and tourists. Alta Vista marks the end of the steepest climb for the steamers and their antique coaches. Tracks disappear into a tunnel before emerging at the tourists' destination in Nighthawk, another former mining town which clings to the mountainside six feet above the floor. Even at this elevation the little town is dominated by a peak more than two feet higher. Below the towering peaks the MKP serves one last customer, a sawmill and treatment plant producing railroad ties and timbers. Amtrak also makes a flag stop to serve a hot springs spa and hotel. Beyond the hotel, the rails disappear into the narrow Black River canyon and the end of the visible MKP route.


MK&P Layout Design Goals


This is a freelanced layout but it draws upon prototype scenes and operations to create realistic and believable models. Freelancing allows more diverse choices of modeling subjects. While sometimes frowned upon by prototype modelers, this variety is helpful for arousing and maintaining the interest of the general public this layout is designed to serve. It also speeds up construction by avoiding the detailed research, measuring, and designing required for true prototype modeling.


A second goal was to emphasize viewer involvement by 1) bringing track nearer eye level, 2) keeping the viewer close to the trains as often as possible,  and 3) placing the viewer in the midst of scenes. The base track elevation of 48 inches was something of a compromise. Best viewing for adults would have been higher. However, children were a major portion of visitors to the display. This elevation is also very comfortable when working on the layout. Separation was maintained between scenes. Aisles were designed so the layout wrapped around visitors. Thus a visitor was required to move or turn to view another scene .


A further purpose of the layout is to show the historic and contemporary roll and importance of railroads in the commerce of America. Scenery and structures model scenes from the contemporary era, however, to inform the public of America's railroad heritage individual trains (historically correct within themselves) might represent any era or geographic region.

Layout Construction


The Missouri Kansas and Pacific layout was built with innovative techniques and materials. Plywood, which is the traditional building material, is nowhere to be found. Steel studs now widely used for interior wall construction have been fabricated into supporting grids for sheets of extruded polystyrene foam insulation. Beams rather than the common 2x2 legs emerged as the best means of supporting the layout. New foam products (risers and inclines) offered by Woodland Scenics were used to complete the bench work for the layout. The foam construction necessitated developing new methods for turnouts and other track work. Pieces of foam insulation are used in place of more traditional wood products along with old-fashioned chicken wire to create the armature and underlying forms to the high mountain peaks and the Midwestern river bluffs.

Florescent tubes were used as up-lighting for the sky background to produce a natural blending of sky colors from dark to lighter blue approaching the horizon. While this technique has been around for awhile it is seldom used. That is unfortunate as a luminous, transparent appearance is given the sky by this technique. During construction we continued to experiment and look for simpler, more efficient means for completing the layout and techniques which may advance the hobby.



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LAYOUT OVERVIEW

Design principles:

Emphasize viewer involvement by 1) bringing track near eye level, 2) keeping viewer close to the trains as often as possible, 3) injecting the viewer into the midst of scenes.

Daily operation for the public will be fully automated and controlled by computer with minimal direct supervision.

The primary function of the layout is public entertainment and education, but we also want it to be a layout that can be enjoyed by volunteers with prototype operation after hours.

This will be a freelanced layout but draw upon prototype scenes and operations to create realistic and believable models.

Scenery and structures will model contemporary scenes, however, for the public display individual trains while historically correct within themselves might represent any era or geographic region.

Layout construction:

N scale 1:160

Overall dimension: 87 ft. x 32 ft. (approximate area: 2520 sq. ft.)

Steel stud & extruded foam bench work

Woodland Scenics foam risers

46" minimum mainline elevation

60" minimum width public aisles (many 72" wide)

Halogen track lighting

Fluorescent up lighting of the sky backdrop

DCC by North Coast Engineering

Track

Micro Engineering code 55 weathered  track

Atlas turnouts

Kato Unitrack hidden staging tracks24" minimum radius mainline curves

18" minimum radius secondary line curves

15" minimum radius tourist steam line & hidden curves

72" maximum track elevation of steam tourist line

10" minimum radius curves industrial track

Steel Benchwork
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Photos of the benchwork built of steel studs can be seen on the MVNS website.
Foam Benchwork
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Photos of extruded foam used as a structural material can be seen on the MVNS website.

Station Master's Journal
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5509 Locust Street - Augusta - Missouri

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