Okay, so I've become a little frustrated with parts of my United Verde & Pacific and so I am taking a break from it for a while. I'm not abandoning it, I just need a change of pace. However I am sticking to my theme of Southwest Narrow Gauge, only this time it's a bit closer to home for some of you. So may I present the Mojave & Panamint railroad!
Now the route is still in development, but I have graded at least the first third of the Right-of-Way. But what is the Mojave & Panamint? Well to answer that, it is one of the most original fictional railroads I've ever come across. The inspiration for the route came from the February 93' issue of Railroad Model Craftsman, or more specifically Craig Tice's imagination.
Mr. Tice has always loved Death Valley and the Mojave desert. Shoot, even you standard gauge guys LOVE it withe the Mojave Subdivision! (which may actually be a part of this route~!!
) Well when Craig decided to build a model railroad he did some research, rejected reality, and substituted his own. He incorporated the real ghost towns of Valley Wells, CA and Ballarat, CA. He used topographical maps to plot his fictitious ROW and even worked out what the grades would be if it were a real railroad! He put a huge amount of effort into this little railroad and thus created a small HOn3 desert empire, with a grand total of 9 locomotives. (see attached roster, pulled from his now long defunct web site)
This line certainly embodies the essence of the Death and Owens Valley narrow gauge systems. An early interest of Craig's was the narrow gauge N-C-O and Southern Pacific Narrow Gauge and so many of the structures reflect this.
Long story short, I thought it was a cool idea for a railroad, it's not terribly long at 34 miles. A nice little shortline operation. So I figured "Why not" and attempt a version of the route in Trainz. So I gave Curtis a call and asked if he could help me out with a terrain map, which he graciously provided! (Thanks again, Curtis!)
The line starts out at Panamint Junction between the Trona Pinacles and Searles Dry Lake. In theory the M&P interchanges with the Los Angeles & Independence RR (Later SP if I recall correctly).
Panamint Jct. is still under revision and I'm sure it looks quite desolate. Shame I don't have T:ANE yet as the improved draw distance would REALLY do wonders for this route. It really does have some incredible vistas! Anyway, the line then travels north and curves around the edges of Searles Dry Lake. The year is set between 1905 and the late 19-teens so I don't know what industries would be here (if any) or any sort of population.
The next major stop, and passing point for trains, is Valley Wells which is about a 3rd of the way along the route. Valley Wells was a very important and busy place for the railroad. Here was the only place for water until Ballarat, and unfortunately steam engines NEED water. And there was still Slate Range Pass to contend with. (the next stop and passing point on the line)
Like Panamint Jct, Valley Wells is VERY much a work in progress. I still need to figure out the industries, such as the Melody Borax Works. But this location will have a large water tank for filling wooden tank cars. Seeing as there's no other natural source for water until Ballarat water is shipped to the summit at Slate Range Pass where the cars are emptied and water pumped into tanks at the pass. The grade leading up to the pass is a moderate 2.5%, or will be once I put some more track down. However once the ROW crests at Slate Range Pass it is a grueling 4% grade downhill as the line moves further north, clinging to the rugged slopes of the Slate Range mountains as it descends into the Panamint Valley. Then the line gently curves across the valley and enters Ballarat from the northwest. The M&P's main engine facility is located here and I imagine it would look something like a much more arid rendition of Como, CO. The roundhouse would be one of the most imposing structures in town. With the tallest being the ore bins which, according to Tice, are supplied by areal tram. I may not have the ore bins in town as Tice has on his track plan, so the line may extend closer to the base of the Panamint Mountains.
I have debated on whether I want to build an extension of the M&P or a separate company entirely for a line going up to Panamint City. However the grade would be insanely steep so some geared motive power might be the only thing to use here. Whether I build the Panamint City Extension or not is still up for debate, but I will certainly build a wagon road there! Now if I could just find a map of the road prior to 1980, since some bad storms flooded the mountains and Surprise Canyon, washing out everything right down to bed rock!! O_o
I've also started reskinning some of Togog's amazing equipment for M&P livery! I'll post some shot of that soon, I promise. I've also started working on reskinning one of his C-16s to represent M&P #4. Dominantly black, but with gold paint with red shadow/sash. I've done what I can with MS paint and have even surprised myself with the end result! Though some parts of reskinning the engine are a bit more confusing. I'd like to add a #4 to the sides of the headlamp and I haven't found the right file for that yet. Nor have I been able to swap out the texture files to give it a Russian Iron boiler jacket instead of black. You'll see what I mean when I post the screens.
Anyway, I know it's a big post but I hope it's caught your interest!