An N-Scale Santa Fe branchline through the mountains

About the Railroad

The Dusty Junction NorthWestern Railroad is a fictional line originally based on Malcolm Furlow's trackplan for the San Juan Central. The advantage to starting with an HO scale narrow guage trackplan is that wider turns are built in and with smaller buildings, etc. the scenery will play a much larger role. It's one of the reasons I model in N-Scale. I want to have space for the scenery to provide the view blocks and focal points.

The Satirical History of the Dusty Junction Layout

The DJN got its humble beginnings back in 1995 with the acquistion of a small amount of trackage rights. Construction began quickly and soon the mainline was taking shape. In 1996, construction was halted briefly when an expanded track area became available ( our new house ) and material had to be shipped to the new location. Again, construction proceeded rather quickly until the DJN's parent company had an acquisition ( they became parents ). At this point, all construction stopped and the crew was layed off indefinitely.

After almost five years away from the railroad, the crew was finally recalled and construction resumed, however, at a much slower pace than before. Management ( my wife ) had severely limited work hours to just a few hours per week ( at most ). Over the course of a year, the mainline was completed and the first train ran the full loop. A milestone had been reached and the railroad was in business.

Shortly thereafter, a few new locomotives were added to the roster and the passing sidings and business spurs were completed. The trackage was complete and switching was begun in earnest. About this time, nature raised her hand and the first mountain was raised near Megan Creek. The early vision for the railroad was finally starting to take shape.

Then in 2002 construction halted again. Management had acquired expanded trackage area ( a new house ) but the preparation would take 6-8 months and the crew was layed off again while the new location was readied and the old sold. It was decided at this point to extend trackage to a third town and the civil engineers went to work determining how best to reach this location. With the engineer's plan in hand, the crew resumed work in early 2004 as soon as the new land was cleared.

Over the course of the next four (4) years, progress continued, and eventually the expanded plan was completed. Again trains were running and all was right with the world. However, a dark cloud hung on the horizon. There were two (2) areas on the line where the grade was overly steep, and several (read most) of the locomotives had issues. Management was in a quandry, trying to determine how best to resolve these issues, when "Open House" month came around. After viewing several double-decked plans while on the tour, Management was "bitten" and plans began in earnest to expand the line again, double the trackage, and fix the grade issues.

In mid 2008, "Work" reared its ugly head, and all work on the line ceased for the next three (3) years. During the "dark years" when the lights on the line were seldom lit, Management took the time to redesign the railroad. More towns were added as the trackage increased, and the grade was capped at 2.5%. Finally in 2011 the crew found some time to resume work. The original trackage was lowered by a foot, and the framework for the upper level was begun. Slowly over the course of the next several years, as time allowed, the trackage was expanded. Hopefully, soon, the new trackage will be complete and trains will once again run the full line.

A Fictional History of the Dusty Junction Railroad

Back in the late 1800's things were really looking good for the Santa Fe railroad. With rich deposits of gold, silver, coal and other ores being discovered in the regions of southern Colorado and northern New Mexico, the AT&SF decided to build a branch line that connected these now booming towns to its hubs in both Santa Fe and Denver. Thus in 1885 a line was run that connected Santa Fe to Driftwood to Jasper to Denver.

In 1891 a spur was run from Driftwood up to Muleshoe to add service to both the ore mine and the cattle ranches in the area.

In 1895 a spur was added from Jasper up to a recently discovered mining district.

Business was good and the investors were happy. That was until 1907, when the output from the mines started to slow and the people started to leave. The once bustling towns seemed to thin out almost overnight. The AT&SF executives had a decision to make: keep the line open and hope for better days, close the line, or sell it off. About that time, a group of investors appeared on the scene led by a young upstart with a rather large inheritance. The deal was brokered and the line was sold. Thus was the Dusty Junction Northwestern born.

Things seemed to be improving under the new management. Overhead was cut and more cost efficient routing led to a profit that the line had not seen in almost a decade. The young upstart decided to expand the DJN's roster and offer more services. It seemed that he had the "Midas touch" as everything he did turned a profit. Then the market crashed in 1929. As the businesses up and down the line suffered, so did the railroad. As passengers stopped traveling, the passenger trains stopped running. Almost overnight the railroad seemed to face its doom. But through it all, our young upstart held true to his vision and refused to fold.

It wasn't until the war broke out in 1934 that business returned to the line. Calls for ores and minerals led to a reopening of several of the mines and people started returning to the towns. Not in the droves of the late 1800's, but in sufficient numbers to now support a railroad once again.

The year is now 1956 and though the Dusty Junction is past its prime, it is still going strong. The trains aren't huge, but they are regular. Day-to-day passenger service has been taken over by the doodlebug, but a "true" passenger train still makes the rounds on its way to and from more prominent towns. The towns along the line are alive with character, as most mountain towns are, and while not bustling with activity the way the big cities do, they still are filled with life. Life can be harsh up here and it shows, from the paint on the buildings to the rust on the engines to the lines on the peoples faces. Money is not in abundance here, but pride is. And as that once young upstart refused to fold, so to do these people refuse to give up.

Business may not be "brisk" but it's "steady".