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Meet The Kansas City & Gulf!

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  • Meet The Kansas City & Gulf!

    Hi all!

    My name is Andre Ming. I turned 70 March of '22. I've been retired off the railroad since April of '18. (I live in Oklahoma, I finished out my RR career as an Engineer, thus my R-L moniker: "OK Hogger".

    I have been a part of R-L's "Early Rail" forum since May of '16. However, life changes and so have my model railroading goals. That is a long and winding road that can be read here if one is so inclined:

    (Or, you can skip to the last page and my last "update" post where I sum it up.)

    The above changes (contained within the above thread) in mind, I felt it time to migrate my upcoming topics to the "Mid-Scale" forum.

    As for my future modeling: I have renewed modeling my HO scale "Kansas City & Gulf" proto/free lance theme that I conceived way back in the 1990s. (My KC&G theme has laid dormant for 20 or so years.) My chosen era for my KC&G modeling is 1964.

    Beginning in Feb of '19 I built a portion of my theoretical KC&G's "Ozark Subdivision" in a dedicated 20' x 16' out-building. My "Ozark Sub" layout has been 100% functional since July of '19, and I've hosted many op sessions for my friends, as well as a lot of solo operation. This summer's goal is to get the backdrop boards in place, sealed and smoothed, and painted blue. In addition, I intend to install the overhead LED lighting and their valances, and lastly install some basic hardboard fascia.

    Concurrent with my Ozark Sub layout, I intend to re-purpose this computer/hobby/office room to house so it can host a modest L shaped shelf layout that will reflect the KC&G's "Riverfront (industrial) District" that I theorize to be in Kansas City, MO. This smaller L-shaped switching layout will give me the opportunity to tinker with trains during inclement weather (when I really don't enjoy traipsing through the elements) or late at night when going out to the train building isn't practical, etc.

    Enough of that for now.

    For my next post, I'll probably use one of my fictional essays (I enjoy creative writing) that I concocted as a means to introduce you to my Kansas City & Gulf theme. You'll read about following along a KC&G freight as it tackles Buck Mountain deep in the Ozark mountains.

    Hope you enjoy!

    Last edited by OK_Hogger; 1 week ago.

  • #2

    Autumn, 1964...

    Today, in The Ozarks, the gray clouds of a crisp autumn day are closing in above me, rolling in from the north. I feel the occasional swirl of a cool (why, almost cold) north breeze. The fallen leafs swish and rattle by me in response to the breeze that stirs. The hickory, sweet gum, and maple trees have awakened with color, sprinkled among the deepening rust-colored oaks. Spattered here and there, I can see the dark, rich greens of the pine and cedar groves. In the distance, a mountain or two, has low hanging clouds shrouding their peaks.

    Autumn has arrived in force in the Ozarks.

    As I stand admiring the masterful handiwork of the Creator Himself, somewhere up in the wind stirred leaves of the stately maple tree I'm standing beneath, I hear the raucous "song" of a cantankerous blue-jay. It only adds emphasis to the crisp air, reminding me that, indeed, winter is on its way. Seems like fall got here mighty quick this year, and if the weatherman's right, it's supposed to get colder as the day ambles by. Why, according to "Ol' Jess" Hargar down at the engine house, he'd "heard-tell" there might be snow flurries in the higher elevations come nightfall! Well, it's happened before about this time of the year in the Ozarks.

    My eyes make a another sweep of the artistic scene presented by the mountainsides. I breathe a deep, contented sigh, and take in the sensations... steel gray skies and snappy days like this are so invigorating. My eyes scan the town that's nestled among the hillsides before me.

    Ozarka hasn't changed much in what seems like decades. In fact, if you didn't know it was Autumn of 1964, you really couldn't tell it by looking at the scene before me. Still looks a lot like it did right after the War (WW2). Ozarka is basically a helper station on the Kansas City & Gulf railroad's "Ozark Subdivision". Ozarka still has it's engine service area and small yard. Day in, day out, the trains still pass through Ozarka. And, as they have for as long as Ozarka has been, they still gather up all they've got for the assault on Mother Nature's devilish device for those who dare railroad through here: The Ozarks.

    No, Ozarka hasn't changed much.

    But it almost did.

    The rugged mountain people, as well as the determined employees of the KC&G, held their collective breaths when the road filed bankruptcy just a year or so ago. Losing the KC&G through here would have changed Ozarka forever. Much to the relief of all, the court-appointed trustees are actually interested in saving the line, and the road is now in the process of "reorganization". Word has it that it wouldn't be in this shape today if the former owners of the line hadn't "pert nigh sucked it dry" (to quote "Ol' Jess"). Fortunately, though, there sits an idle train on the main just a short distance in front of me that proves, at least for now, there's still railroading taking place on the KC&G.

    Shoot, the management seems to be better already, and with this being grain season up north, there is a bunch of tonnage to bring south through the mountains, and with winter coming on, the power plants are stocking up on coal for the impending winter, so there's a bunch of coal from the coal fields in the Arkansas River valley moving north in addition to the other tonnage that flows north and south. Hopefully the line can indeed "reorganize". However, "a better tomorrow" is only a promissory note if you go by appearances on the tired old line. Things on the railroad still look pretty sad. Why, some say the Magnolia Shops (down in Magnolia, Arkansas) are trying to hold the engines together with chewing gum and bailing wire! To be sure though, all concerned are hoping that those "better days" are indeed ahead.

    Situated at the bottom of the steepest grade on the entire KC&G, Ozarka seems to be a "start here" point for the northbound trains for the grueling battle that lays before them. Well to the south of Ozarka, in the Arkansas River Valley, the rails of the KC&G meandered lazily amid the foothills as it ambled north through of the Arkansas River valley into the foothills, and the the brunt, of the Ozark mountains. Now, having arrived at Ozarka, the rails are poised to take on the most rugged piece of railroading that exists on the KC&G: The monumental struggle up The Mountain. (Upper case added by the railroaders of the KC&G when they're referring to it!) The Mountain is what stands between a northbound train and the ascent to summit at Piney Gap. However if you're headed south, and you've just dropped down off The Mountain with a heavy freight, Ozarka is the place that says to the crew "we've just got another one safely down The Mountain".

    When built through here in 1874, these rails belonged to the "Ozark & Southern". The O&S was a brazen (naysayers at the time said foolhardy!) effort to penetrate the Ozarks from Springfield, Missouri, and connect with the a-building Little Rock & Fort Smith that was headed west out of its namesake following along the Arkansas River. The O&S did succeed. They did make it through the Ozarks and thus a connection with the LR&FS. In so doing, they did manage to carve out a living... but it certainly was not a wildly lucrative venture. Fortunately for the southward marching KC&G, during the 1890s the O&S was secured as a means through the Ozarks, and thus the former O&S line still sees daily use to this day as the KC&G's "Ozark Subdivision".

    The Ozark Sub is actually a paradox for the KC&G. Really, it's only this one subdivision among the entire system that has such radical topography to traverse. Indeed, if you add up the mileage of all the "real" mountains that the KC&G runs through, it would be much less than this view at Ozarka indicates. In truth, the KC&G is a flatland road, they only have this one rugged portion of railroading known as the Ozark Sub. Though the KC&G passes through the Ouachita Mountains south of the Arkansas River, their trek through the Ouachita's is not nearly as rugged as the ruggedness needed to penetrate as were this region of the Ozarks.

    Now the KC&G didn't purposely choose to twist, turn, and climb through these mountains because they wanted to, mind you, but because of necessity. You see, their arch rival ("the other KC route", as the KC&G refers to the "Kansas City Southern") struck out of Kansas City first, so they had the choice among routes. Hence, the competitor KCS decided to bounce back and forth between the Arkansas and Oklahoma border, and take the easiest, albeit far less direct, route to the Gulf. This left the more "inhospitable" routing to the late-coming KC&G, thus the divide that lays before my eyes now. About the only upside to the KC&G's Ozark Sub is that at least it's only one tough section of mountain railroading on the otherwise genteel KC&G profile.

    Yes, in reality, the KC&G is termed a "flatland" line. It was the "flatland" railroading that caused the KC&G to decide against the added-expense option of dynamic brakes when they first dieselized. After all, steam hogs didn't have 'em... right? However, that was a decision made early-on in the dieselization of the KC&G that was rectified in mid-'57 with the 450 class, the ALCo RS-11's, and will likely be reinforced when new power is purchased. Be that as it may, you'd never believe this is a "flatland railroad" if you only saw the Ozark Sub.

    My attention is brought back to reality at the sound of a chime horn...

    To Be Continued...
    Last edited by OK_Hogger; 1 week ago.


    • #3

      Looking north, I see the headlight of a movement coming my way. It's on the pass track, easing past the idle train on the main. As the movement nears, I see it's a light engine move.

      Ah, I should have realized that's what the main line train is waiting on: A helper. I must have just missed a northbound earlier, else there wouldn't be a helper drifting down off the mountain. The light engine drifts by at maybe 10 MPH, clanking and clunking over the light rail.

      It's a tired looking GP7. It's paint is faded and worn. There's traces of where oil had been spewed from an oil leak onto the inside of the hood doors in days past, for the seepage was still evident at the seams and along the bottom of the rattling hood doors. Yup... definitely looks like "chewin' gum an' bailing wire" was all that was keeping this old soldier on the road.

      The old Geep completes the run by of the main line train, and has now eased up against the caboose of the train on the main. I could see the Conductor and rear Brakeman coming out of the depot and climbing aboard their "Palace". I walk over for a closer look.

      Above the idling Geep, I can hear the radios crackle that are inside the Geep and the caboose it was coupled to...

      "Hey Stringbean!"

      "Go 'head Rooster", came the response from the head end.

      "Better hold'er down once we start movin' 'cause this ol' crate's been droppin' load on me up 'round 20 miles an' hour or so. Thought we's gonna' break in two when it dropped load on that last shove!"

      "I got'cha... hold'er down below 20."

      "Yes sir or you'll be pullin on 'em by yerself!" After a pause...

      "Alright... we're hooked on. Let's leave town!" says Rooster.

      "Yer on an' rearin' to go... grab 'ya a couple", says Stringbean from the head end.

      "Two notch!" comes Rooster's response.

      The Geep revs a bit and starts nudging against the caboose and bunches up a bit of slack. Way up front, I hear a couple hoots of the horn and see a puff of black smoke spew into the crisp air. Hm... that just could be an Alco up there! Off in the distance, I can hear a bit of slack being pulled out... Rooster's helper starts to move.

      "We're movin'!" shouts Rooster to the head end.

      With that, I see more smoke spew skyward up front... and Rooster's Geep revs up some more and starts shoving harder... the sander dust is wafting from under the wheels.

      The northbound is on its way.

      With no time to waste I see the "smokey end" live up to it's name as obviously Stringbean has pulled the throttle lever over to the Company Corner. Black smoke boils out of the old engines on the head end. Rooster slaps the Geep's throttle to 8. The sound of a roaring 567 fills my ears with its unmistakable sound... the motor on Rooster's steed revs and then sags... the old Geep momentarily lost its footing.

      No, they don't have much run before they hit the that horrendous grade to Piney Gap, so the aging engines are already giving it all they're got. Standing there, still looking up the light-railed mainline toward the head end, I still see blackish smoke boiling skyward.

      The struggle to the top of The Mountain has begun.

      As for the lay of the land: Immediately upon leaving Ozarka, a northbound hits the grade that will be doing its best to thwart their upward movement. This grade starts just past the north switch of the pass track here at Ozarka. This struggle will rage for several miles all the way up to Piney Gap. According to the MoW profile charts, there are places on the grade that will hit 2.9%. (BUT... according to the hogheads I've talked with... they think it might be right at 3% or more for short sections!)

      With exhausts shooting straight up, the head end lumbers out of sight, aiming for nigh 20 MPH... maybe. I stand and watch as Rooster's GP7 shoves hard on the bottom of the train. Eventually, the Geep also goes out of sight around the big bend that puts them into Possum Hollow as they make their way (hopefully) to the summit at Piney Gap.

      There's no hurry to leave Ozarka to head for the small mountain community of Jack Fork. They'll be working alongside Possum Creek for a ways, and there's simply no access to speak of except at Sawmill Spur, but the road zig zagging down to Sawmill Spur could not be negotiated anywhere near fast enough to get you down to Sawmill Spur in time to watch the train through, then back out again, and still have time to make it to Jack Fork. So, it's one or the other, but not both.

      Eventually, the sounds of the exhaust from the out of sight and struggling train fades into the mist shrouded mountains to a faint, distant drone. As expected, beating the train to the small mountain town of Jack Fork was not a significant task, not at the speed (or lack of) they're making up the lower part of The Mountain. I stand by the crossing, waiting, listening.

      Eventually, I begin to hear them. The sound gets louder, and after a bit, they come into sight.

      I was right. There's an old Alco "covered wagon" on the point, and it's still laying a smoke screen into the air. That distinctive smoke must mean it's one of the "shore 'nuf' Alco's" (quoting Ol' Jess again), and not one of the EMD re-powered ones. That makes it a rare bird on the KC&G. However, anything that can be made to run is being patched together by the Magnolia Shops and pushed onto the rails. Well, I guess a road's got do what a road's got to do when they're trying to "reorganize".

      Looks like they're down to about 10 MPH now. The three-chime horn erupts for the dirt road crossing that I'm standing beside. Horn blaring, the old engines grind past, exhausts roaring... but they can't let up, for the hard pull is still fighting them. Shortly after making the crossing, the head end will start into the S curve that will swing them around the around the little bump of a mini-mountain (called "Chinkapin Knob" by the locals) and into the tight confines of Buck Hollow.

      I watch as the train rumbles through the community of Jack Fork. Amazingly, the depot is still in use at Jack Fork! I suppose that's owing to the fact that there's a tie loading and a pulpwood operation (from the "Possum Creek Lbr Co's small sawmill deeper in the mountains) going full swing, with a track for each commodity. Plus, the team track is still in service. Jack Fork is doing its part to help the coffers of the ailing KC&G!

      The head end disappears around Chinkapin Knob, and grinds into Buck Hollow. I stand at the crossing and watch as the boxcars rattle along as they continue to battle The Mountain. The "che-kung che-kung" of the wheels on the sagging 90 pound rail ever so slowly decrease their cadence. It is very apparent the engines are still firmly locked in obvious combat with the laws of gravity, but they're still a long ways from having The Mountain whipped.

      Just north of Jack Fork is the remaining hard climb the rest of the way up to Piney Gap, where waits the sleepy little mountain community of Piney. Thereon, they'll be laboring up the some of the worst parts of the 2.9% (3%?) grade on the side of Buck Mountain until they either get over it in one mighty heave, or they fall down. The end of the foreshortened train grinds into view. Rooster still has the ears pinned back on the old Geep under his command. The Geep is really roaring as it trundles over the crossing.

      Hey... is that water I see coming out from under that hood door?

      I watch as the the old Geep shoots exhaust haze skyward as it shoves hard on the train at the breakneck speed of maybe 8 MPH. Soon, the steel serpentine snake grinds its way into Buck Hollow and disappears, though the sounds of its struggle can still be heard fading off into the distance.

      Climbing back in the car, I leave Jack Fork and begin a leisurely dirt road trip to the summit at Piney Gap, where lies the little town of Piney. No hurry, they'll be working Buck Mountain a while. I arrive in plenty of time at the quiet little mountain town of Piney. Seeing as I've got a bit of wait time ahead of me, I walk over the crossing to go inside and get a hot cup at the old Piney General Store. Coffee in hand, I sit out on the old bench that's on the tired-looking swaybacked porch (sipping on the warm coffee).

      Hm. It's been a while. A long while. Wonder where they're at? Wonder what's going on? It doesn't normally take THIS long for them to make the Gap. Something must have gone wrong.

      To Be Continued...
      Last edited by OK_Hogger; 1 week ago.


      • #4

        Eventually, I begin to hear them ever-so-faintly off in the distance. Somewhere out of sight down the track, the sound's echoing up from the hollow in a slow crescendo. Though out of sight around the cut, down there somewhere they're working hard on the side of Buck Mountain. I can hear the sound of the howling engines as it reverberates up through the Piney Gap cut. Out of sight, somewhere on the mountainside, those engines are blowing the guts into the sky, trying to loft one more train over this brutal piece of railroading on the KC&G.

        The sound grows.... and grows...

        There they are!

        At long last I see them, hear them... FEEL them... as the head end punches through the cut that signals the summit of Piney Gap. I watch the spectacle as the lead engines bear down on me, trying to get back up to 10 MPH. No doubt a few windows are rattling in the sleepy town of Piney! (Of course, only a "few windows" is all there IS to rattle in this isolated mountain town!)

        The smokey-haze from the roaring exhausts shoots skyward... the sound is near deafening. Tan-colored dust of powdered sand swirls out from under the grinding wheels of the set of power as they struggle for traction. I hear the unmistakable sound of an EMD prime mover rev away with itself as the trailing Geep looses it's grip on the steel rail. The whine of the Roots blower trails off as the engine attempts to regain it's small patch of adhesion on the ball of the rail... then takes hold again as grip is re-established. The set of power crawls by me in a cacaphonous uproar. That trailing Geep is blowing blue smoke into the gray overcast sky as it grinds past in full-throated roar (there's some oil gettin' burned there!)... but it's still giving it all it's got. Finally, the hoghead notches down. They've won. Another pull has been made.

        What's this? The head end power only has a hold of half the train? What's happened? Where's Rooster and the rest of the train? Then it dawns on me: Something's gone wrong on The Mountain and the other half of the train is somewhere down the grade. Hopefully it's only an engine issue with Rooster's Geep... and not derailment!

        Well won't that knock yer hat in the creek? Rooster and his fellow crew member's long day just got longer.

        The truncated train drags up around through Big Cut at Piney Gap on the end of the mountain north of the north switch at Piney. As they pass over the north switch, the Head Brakeman swings to the ground. After the head end brakeman unlocks and throws the switch, the engines shoves the cut back into the clear on the pass track. After tying down the cut, the power pulls back out onto the main, the Head End Brakeman closes and locks the switch, and climbs aboard the trailing Geep to man the whistle for the crossing at Piney. That they do, drifting by me and then disappearing into the cut as they start back down the mountain to retrieve the rest of the train, and apparently an ailing Geep!

        Well, this is unexpected drama... not uncommon, given the the condition of the KC&G's power... but unexpected nonetheless.

        I go back into the Piney General Store to get another shot of hot coffee. It's gettin' might chilly up here on the Gap! Back out on the old wooden bench, my thoughts return to the town of Piney...

        In reality, there wasn't (still isn't) much reason for the town of Piney to exist. Why, it wouldn't even be on the map if it weren't for the KC&G (actually, if it weren't for the KC&G's ancestor through here: The Ozark & Southern.) No, Piney is simply the place that happens to be at the summit of the tough northbound climb up Buck Mountain. Here at Piney on the west side of the main, there's a pass track for making meets, a long spur called the "Middle Track" to hold tonnage, and the "Back Track" spur for team track duty as well as holding any overflow northbound tonnage as needed. Both the Middle and Back tracks have north connections. On the east side of the main, there's also another short tie spur off with a south connection they call the "Team Track".

        Amazingly, the minuscule depot at Piney is still active! Seeing as the Piney depot sits on top of The Mountain, and seeing as with mountain railroading anything that can go wrong WILL go wrong eventually (as we're seeing today!), the agency is kept open for a quick access via telephone to the Dispatcher, and if needed, to pass up orders, and such stuff as that.

        Whoa... that north wind is getting downright chilly. I end up back inside the General Store to take a reprieve from the gathering cold.

        From inside the store, I hear the horn of the returning train... back outside I go into the lowering temperature. In a repeat of the previous scene, Stringbean has the loud handle all the way open as the consist struggles to get the rest of the train up to Piney.

        Sure 'nuf, as the bottom of the train comes into view, I see no exhaust whatsoever from Rooster's Geep. It's graveyard dead. Stringbean eases the train to a stop with Rooster's Geep in front of the tiny depot.

        I see Rooster come out of the cab and start cranking down the brake on the old Geep to hold it in place. The rear brakeman on the train cuts away from the stranded Geep, and Stringbean pulls the caboose north over the crossing to break the crossing. Up on the head of this cut, the head Brakeman pulls the pin and "POW!" the air dumps on the train. The light power will now gather up the front cut, put the two halves back together, and be on their way.

        I amble over toward the dead Geep. It looks like Rooster is retrieving a water hose from inside the depot. Yup, that's what he's doing. Soon he's stuck the business end into the fill tube, and on comes the water. Behind me, I hear the northbound whistle off... the slack is gently pulled out... and Stringbean and company are on their way.

        After several minutes, water appears to be overflowing. Rooster goes to a pair side doors on the hood, opens them up, and with a twist of a knob, I can hear the hum of the pump priming the Sardello brand injector governor. Pushing on the lay shaft, he twists the knob the opposite direction and the starter begins to spin over the dead prime mover. I'm sure Rooster breathed a sigh of relief as the old Geep fires right up. With that, Rooster closes and latches the hood doors, and he and his other crew members (Fireman and Conductor), head over to the Piney General Store.

        There's something about trains. I'm convinced they're either in your blood, or they're not. That "gene" has to be resident in you. But if it is, you can take it to the bank: SOME type of train encounter of some type, somewhere... will awaken it, and you'll be fascinated with them the rest of your life. Standing there, leaning against the corner of the small Piney depot and listening (and smelling the aroma) of that idling Geep... I was in my element. I was where I was meant to be. I didn't know how it would come to pass, or when, but I knew that "one of these days"... I would work for the railroad. Not just any railroad, mind you, but this one that I had been around all my life and had become a part of my life: The KC&G.

        Soon, I saw Rooster and the rest of the crew coming out of the General Store, each carrying a soda drink and a brown poke, likely with some good vittles therein! Having all climbed aboard and settled into the cozy cab, Rooster whistles off, and the old Geep revs a little, then settles back to idle, and begins to trundle back down The Mountain.

        The sound of the drifting geep fades into the mist of the mountains that surround me. I'm now alone with only the sounds in those mountains gently whispering in my ear. A cold breeze rustles the leafs as a small dervish stirs them in a ciruclar pattern. In the distance, I hear the lonesome sound of a crow as it sounds its alarm for some imagined (or real) danger it perceives: "Caw! Caw! Caw!"

        As I turn to leave, I notice some snow flakes silently streaming by. Looks like it's gotten colder quicker than the weatherman thought.

        Well, that's the Ozarks for you... and this is Mountain Railroading in the Ozarks... KC&G style.

        The End


        NOTE from the Author: The places, trains, events, etc, described in this fictional narrative are simulated as much as possible on my modeled portion of the KC&G. This includes simulating random engine and equipment failures, simulated delays, et al. Taken as a whole, the layout presents an operational side of railroading seldom viewed by a model train enthusiast that was never a railroad employee, that is, the story and experiences of a road that's struggling to stay afloat, as were many of the US roads during the era I model. Such situations are incorporated into the fabric of my operational scenarios that I've lifted from personal experiences with 1:1 railroading, as well as stories shared with me by my many railroading friends.

        Such operation not only rewards the recipient with the fun of running trains, but with unforeseen situations arising, and the inevitable accompanying drama, it gives the visiting operating crewman a glimpse of what it's like working out on a full-sized mountain railroading counterpart during such an incident. If you've never worked on a mountain railroad, you can't imagine what all can be faced "out there". Thus it's my hope to share some of these experiences in operational form with my operating friends on my version of the KC&G's Ozark Subdivision.

        Andre Ming


        • #5
          And now a pic taken on my layout, and "enhanced" in my photo software. Here's the "story" and the pic:

          Dateline: 1964...

          On this crisp, overcast autumn day, a rather road weary Kansas City & Gulf #255 sits burbling alongside the engine house at the small town of Ozarka, Arkansas.

          Ozarka is deep in the heart of the Ozark Mountains and has the distinction of being situated at the foot of the worst grade on the entire Kansas City & Gulf: The 2.5% - 2.9% climb up through Possum Creek Hollow, then into Buck Hollow, and onto the side of Buck Mountain for the final assault to Piney Gap.

          Many's been the time #255 has done battle with that grade, either as the lead unit, or a trailing unit, or as a helper... and it's pretty much a done deal that it won't be long and it's going to get into yet another struggle to get tonnage up to the summit of Buck Mountain. However, for now, there's a brief respite as the old Alco sits and idles the time away for its next assignment.

          Click image for larger version

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          About the pic:

          The basic scene (engine, track, engine house) exists on my current, 100% functional, HO scale "Ozark Sub" layout. The engine house is comprised of simplistic photos printed, pasted to poster board, then cut out and assembled. Start to finish, maybe 20 minutes for the engine house?

          I can't remember where (or when) I got the foliage photo. It was simply one I had in one of my "Autumn" folders. I ended up de-saturating it so it wasn't so garish, for it seems that, typically, aspiring photographers like to "enhance" the colors in their autumn landscape scenes. The end result looks spectacular as an art subject, but way too intense and unrealistic for a model railroad layout. Thus, the de-saturation. Onto the autumn scene I overlaid my RS-3 and engine house picture, and this cheater shot (not actual scenery) was the result.

          All fer now!



          • k9wrangler
            k9wrangler commented
            Editing a comment
            What Mike says,

        • #6
          Nice modeling, Andre.

          Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced. James Baldwin


          • #7
            So, here you are! Nice shot! That is a good looking engine house made from photos. Nicely weathered loco as well.
            I enjoyed your writing setting the mood and scene.



            • #8
              Andre.......With all the turmoil going on in the world, I found your writing and story content very enjoyable and interesting. It took me away to simpler times and places. The Alco and engine house photo look great. Thanks for sharing.

              GULF COAST & WESTERN


              • #9
                Hi All!

                Thanks for the input!

                Thought I'd type some replies, so I'll make like a frog and hop to it...


                Thanks! I have so far to go on my layout before it's anywhere near "complete" looking that the immensity of the task before me can be overwhelming. However, I'll chip away at it and make as much progress as I can before I reach my unknown expiration date.


                And thanks to you, too, for the kind words. The engine house was almost like cheating. I mean, you've got guys here like Mike, and Bob, and yourself (and many others) that are craftsmen of the highest order... and then there's me. The path of least resistance is of the essence of my modeling. (I'm a bit anal about some aspects, but overall: The path of least resistance.) That engine house cost me maybe an hour from the time I put the images into the software and manipulated them, printed them out, cut them out and pasted to the poster board, then cut out and assembled? Like I said... it's like cheating. Supposed to be temporary until I build a replacement for it... but knowing me it will be there for years.

                I'm glad you enjoyed my essay. I do enjoy creating such, so it makes it even more fun when others find entertainment in it.


                Well thank you for saying so! Drivel is my main commodity, so you'll get more of it as this thread continues to grow in length!!

                Got a' nuther pack of drivel to post after I run some errands!



                • #10
                  AUTUMN 1964...

                  The cold, mist laden Ozark mountains were no doubt already planning how to conspire against the Kansas City & Gulf once again. Mother Nature is relentless. In the summer it's heat, along with the possibility of heat kinks in rail, in the spring it's cloud bursts bringing the very real threat of washouts, and in the winter, well, the Ozarks are known for ice storms, as well as unexpected snows that can deal fits with the concept of moving getting trains over a steep grade.

                  However, for today, for this time of year, it was cold and mist... again. Of course, along with conditions such as this, comes the bane of trying to move tonnage on a mountain railroad: Wet rail.

                  Fallen leafs on the rail is bad enough, but wet leafs... they're like grease.

                  Into the mist-dappled mountains labored northbound train #44, a general freight, as it struggled against that devil of a grade up to Piney Gap. The engines were pulling their guts out at about 15 MPH as they ground their way alongside tumbling Possum Creek, all the while working their way up the grade toward the summit. The misted wet rail was bad enough... and the wet fallen leaves were making it worse.

                  What lousy timing for sand lines to get plugged with wet sand.

                  Bereft of the sanders on the trailing unit, train #44 didn't stand a chance.

                  Sure 'nuf, #44 stalled up past the crossing at Jack Fork, just as they were poised to round Chinkapin Knob and head into Buck Hollow.

                  Aided by Ma Nature, The Mountain had claimed another victim.

                  The call went out from #44 to the Dispatcher: "44 to the 'Spatcher."

                  "Dispatch" came the response over the engine's radio.

                  "We've laid down... got anybody that can give us some help or do we need to start doubling up to the top?"

                  Doubling to the top would have been time consuming for sure... IF the engines could even handle that task with one engine not laying down sand. After all, #44 was supposed to meet southbound passenger train #11 up north of Mountain Springs. Though #11 isn't much of a passenger train anymore, it would still would not be wise to hold it up. (The KC&G is trying to get out from under the financial load of passenger service... but that hasn't been approved yet.)

                  Fortunately, the Jack Fork Turn was still working down in the small yard at Ozarka as they were finishing switching up their train prior to departure. Sure enough, the Dispatcher hollered at them, and within a few minutes, the work day the Conductor had planned for the Jack Fork Turn were changed. They were now "Extra 412 North", and would be taking their GP7 out of town light, and head out into the misty mountains to assist stalled #44 up to Piney Gap. Once there, they would magically transform into "Extra 412 South" (said so on the flimsies) and ease back down The Mountain to Ozarka.

                  After a quick comparison of the flimsies among the crew in the cab of 412, with a couple bloops from the Wabco E2, Extra 412 North eased onto the main, closed and locked the switch behind them, and headed off into the mist.

                  About 7 miles north of Ozarka, Extra 412 North was gingerly coming up to the rear of stalled #44, and once a quick job briefing was held with #44's Conductor in the caboose, they tacked-on to the rear of #44.

                  "Okay Pig Iron... we're hooked on!" came the shout from helper 412. ("Pig Iron" Matthews was the hoghead on #44. So nicknamed because he had a tendency to be, well, a bit "determined" in mind, if you know what I mean.)

                  "Okay... yer hooked on an' ready. Grab me a couple, Hotshot" crackled 412's radio in response from the head end.

                  "Got a couple!" came the reply as the 412 nudged against the stalled train... sanders blowing.

                  "We'll let's git 'em movin' then!" came the response from up front.

                  It took quite a bit of doin' to get the stalled train moving again... but do it they did.

                  At the grand speed of about 8 MPH, #44, with GP7 412 shoving on the rear, the engines slipped and clawed their way the rest of the way up to the top of Buck Mountain at Piney Gap.

                  Easing to a stop at Piney, the struggle was behind them now. Engine 412 cut away, and train #44 was on its way to keep an appointment with Psgr #11. In the meantime, GP7 412 eased back a short ways to the tiny little depot that still served the line at the small summit town of Piney.

                  Quite soon the sound of #44 was swallowed up by the misty mountains... only the sound of their distant whistle could be heard at one of the little mountain dirt road crossings. Now it was just engine 412 sitting by its lonesome in front of the little depot at the sleepy little town of Piney. Their next task would be to gingerly ease down the treacherously slick rail with a light engine and make it back back down to Ozarka to resume their scheduled job. No doubt, they would be using sand at times on their descent to keep from sliding down the rail at the worst sections. But under the capable hands of Hogger Extraordinaire "Hotshot" Chadwick, there was little cause for concern, for "Hotshot" had been in such situations countless times.

                  No, today was simply an all too familiar part of railroading on the KC&G.

                  The Picture:

                  Engine 412 idles its EMD chant in front of the little depot at Piney. That wood stove feels pretty good to the crew inside as they take a few minutes to swig down some hot coffee before easing back down The Mountain as Extra 412 South.

                  Click image for larger version  Name:	KCnG_412_at_Piney.jpg Views:	0 Size:	146.3 KB ID:	994445



                  About the pic...

                  Another photo shop job of adding a background and even some foreground texture onto a plain vanilla photo I shot up at the town of Piney some time ago. SO, this is another of those "cheater" shots that make it look like my Ozark Sub layout actually has some scenery in place. It doesn't!
                  Last edited by OK_Hogger; 4 days ago.


                  • #11
                    Addendum to the above...

                    #44 and the tale of the stalled train: The myth and the truth...

                    The above essay of #44 that accompanied my second photo-chop job wasn't total concoction. It's actually based on a situation that happened at an op session (Dec 13, 2021) with a friend.

                    I was running #44 and was headed up to Piney Gap.

                    My set of power should have made it... but some of the cars were a bit heavier than expected, so as soon as I hit the grade (the long climb begins immediately after the north main switch at the town of Ozarka), I realized it was going to be "close".

                    Sure enough, the train pulled down before I got to Sawmill Spur to the point it was literally crawling along at 1-2 MPH (and slipping). At times, it would momentarily stop and sit, wheels still spinning, then get a bite and start creeping upgrade again!

                    It did this 2 or 3 times (getting up to maybe 5 MPH at times) as I struggled on my way alongside Possum Creek to the town of Jack Fork. It was such a show that operating friend Jimmy had stopped what he was doing and had come over to enjoy the experience with me.

                    I was losing hope that I would make it on my own to Piney, and sure 'nuf, just as the head end bent around Chinkapin Knob to enter Buck Creek Hollow... down it went and I couldn't budge it.

                    At that point I made the call for help, and op friend Jimmy (that had been working the Jack Fork Turn), brought his engine up out of Ozarka to help me on up to Piney.

                    SO... as you see... the above yarn wasn't total BS... the circumstance actually happened in model form! From there I took the actual event, and extrapolated the incident so it was from a prototype perspective. (I really enjoy doing that.)

                    So... now you know... the REST of the story! (Said in my best Paul Harvey voice!)



                    • #12


                      • #13
                        Super weathering on the stinky diesels :-)

                        Modeling 1890s (because the voices in my head told me to)


                        • #14
                          Another nice scene, Andre.

                          Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced. James Baldwin


                          • #15

                            Dave D:

                            Thanks for the nice comment about the weathering. It's been a long time since I've had to do any such weathering... I'll probably have to learn all over again.

                            Yeah... shame about those stinky diesels.


                            Thank you kindly. IF I was only interested in creating photos for sharing... photo shopping is the bomb. Alas, I want the layout to look "reasonably complete" before I make like a frog and croak. SO, such photo shop Tom-foolery is only an illusion: My layout is very much a "Plywood Pacific" at this point.

                            All fer now!