I was given permission to start fresh!

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Montana is one of my greatest desires as a fly fisherman. I need to plan a trip out there! The only place I want to go more than Montana is New Zealand. The brown trout there... out of this world! Anyway, back on task lol. Here is what I have come up with. The major industries are a small coal operation, a fueling depot, and an iron facility. Most of the iron facility will not be represented. Just the blast furnace, and I will be modeling it after an old brick-and-mortar furnace from my area (any of you ever heard of the Eliza furnace in Vintondale, PA?) Here is the plan:

mining layout.jpg

I took the layout and reworked it to use #6 Peco code 83 mainline turnouts, and #5s in all the sidings. There are three ladder tracks in the yard for the furnace. One will be for limestone cars, one for ore cars, and one for coal cars. The coal will be dumped at the dump site, then loaded into the furnace by conveyor and shovel. I am not quite sure what to do with the other little industry on the left hand side. I am thinking fuel receiving for the furnace? And also, I feel like I really should model the ore dump site too. I know there are many more considerations for a steel operation like this, but these are the components I absolutely want to model. I figure the steel mill and the output of the steel mill can be represented somewhere outside of the layout space, and maybe even as a future expansion. I'm no longer certain if transition era fits this layout since the mining operation and steel facility will be of an older design. Does anyone know how late this style of blast furnace was in existence? Once again, back on task. Improvements, suggestions, criticisms (constructive of course)? Thanks!

Edit: The more I think about this, I realize I need more. I need a coke oven as well at least! Plus a limestone crusher... this is more complicated than I thought. I guess I could forgo the limestone aspect, having the limestone come in crushed from an off-layout source. What would you guys do? I mean I like the idea of these industries, but when it comes down to it I can plan a different industry in the lower area and just model the remains of an old blast furnace somewhere on the layout. Actually I fell in love with the idea of the blast furnace from all the mornings walking by the old Eliza furnace to go hunting on the hillside, so an abandoned furnace could be a good idea to model?


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I like what you are doing and it's a similar theme to what I started. I went for the Cerro Azul in 101 Track Plans #47 with my PRR layout and modified it to my needs. It is also based around the PA Steel industry in western Pennsylvania and I am trying to put the timeline between the late 40's and mid 50's so I can still run a few Steam. I have an Iron Ore mine, Coal Mine, Coke Works, Iron Smelting, A couple small passenger stations to transport workers and business men, a lumber mill and warehouse in the yard to supply wood to the coal mine and supplies to the towns. It finishes up with a steel plant to take the iron bars, coke, etc... and make steel. It's a smaller layout, so its not scale in distance and most likely there are a few things(i.e. the Iron Mine) that would not suit a purist, but it's for me and I will have fun with it. As an FYI, I had a lot of relatives work these specific coal mines and steel plant back in the day and many of them still live in the small towns on my layout, so I have a bit of family history there too.

So, I would say do what makes you happy. You don't have to fill up your board with tons of large areas, just a small depiction as you stated will do well enough. You can take a picture of a steel plant or mine and blow it up later as a background to give it some depth. I would make one suggestion though; I also live in an apartment and making the layout portable, i.e. able to get it through the doors if I ever moved was essential. I built the yard in two 2'x6' sections, bolting them together and the mountain portion will be two 3'x6' sections, giving me a 12'x5' layout. I can get 6' sections out the door easily if need be and I would suggest you consider it if this is something you want to keep down the road.

Here is a link to my plan...use whatever you may find of interest.
PRR Iron Mountain

Enjoy the planning, change it up they way you like it and when ready, have fun building...I know I am having a blast!

Best of luck,

I like the layout! Did you grow up near Pittsburgh? I live not too far from there and some of the furnaces I want to model served the Pittsburgh mills. My town too was part of the steel industry until Bethlehem Steel closed. JWF Industries is located in their old 11 inch mill building now. I was lucky to grow up around some really cool examples of railroad industry, especially surrounding steel. I'm still working on getting my space ready, but it's been kinda slow going. I expect to start benchwork probably next spring if I don't get to it very soon. I think I like the layout as-is, so unless anyone has an idea how to make it epic I'm going to proceed as is!


Whiskey Merchant
Looks like a very interesting plan. Like it. Keep us posted.

If you like fly fishing, we are just over the pass from Livingston, MT, and the Yellowstone River which is supposed to be the premier fly fishing river in the northwest. The Montana Rail Link shops are in Livingston also.

I got to visit New Zealand while I was in the Navy, but I wasn't interested in catching any trout, I was more interested in the women.



I grew up in the 60's and we lived in the Youngstown/Warren area, but my dad was from Weirton, WVA and my mom's relatives were in Windber, Johnstown and Pittsburg, so we would make trips down there all the time as a kid. Lots of family to see and I remember the small houses in Windber, where a great grandmother used to live and many uncles, grandparents, etc... worked the Windber mines all the way back to the turn if the century. Also, many of them worked at Bethlehem Steel, Pittsburg Steel and Weirton Steel, so the curiosity and fascination of it all is in our blood. Even my Dad worked in a steel tubing mill, working his way up from a shop worker to superintendent of the mill. We still have many relatives in the area, but I do not frequent it as often, due to our location. So yes, I have been to your area many times as a youngster, but not much as an adult.

As far as your layout is concerned, I think it will do just fine, but what matters most is if you like it...have at it and enjoy all the planning, which is almost as much fun as building. You have more open space than I do, so you can depict the rolling hills/mountains in the area well and it should make for some great scenery. enjoy and best wishes.

That's a bingo on Johnstown. That's where I live, and my relatives are spread around the area as well. The mountains are definitely something I want to depict since I live pretty much right in the middle of the Laurel Highlands. The terrain around here is just beautiful and there's so much modeling potential. Definitely hoping to have a good time with this one, take it easy and just use it to blow off some steam and have some fun. I appreciate all the advice guys, thanks!



I just re-read one of your posts and saw where you asked about your blast furnace and I found out it was in production from 1846-1849. Now if I were you and you really wanted to build it, which I think would be great, then I would suggest you build it and leave room for a bigger furnace in the future, like a small copy of Bethlehem Steel. That way you get to use your stone blast furnace and if you get tired of it, you can weather and age it, then place tall grass around it like it was overgrown and use the new furnace. Just a thought, as it seemed you were a bit concerned about it. This way you get the best of both worlds in the future and can turn those rolling hills into a new steel mill.

I need to build a smaller smelting plant in my yard myself, which is my last building for the yard and I gathered a lot of pictures for reference. You would be surprised how much you can find on the web and you may want to do some searching if you need any ideas. BTW, here is a link to my build website...I try to keep it up to date and really need to start a thread here of my own.

PRR Iron Mountain Website

Iron Horseman

Well-Known Member
At the center top are you planning two bridges or a tunnel? I'm thinking a turnout in a tunnel could be a operating/maintenance issue.
Almost has to be a tunnel there I guess. The turnout would be very close to the tunnel mouth, but I can also move the turnout out some to the point where it clears the tunnel mouth. I will probably go with option b there and just move the turnout some.
Ok, so I have a question. I am thinking about breaking the layout up into four or five sections to make it easier when I decide to move. What is the biggest you guys would go on sections? Right now I'm looking at breaking it up into one 4'x2', one odd shaped section that is 4'x6' on one side and 2'x6' on the other, one section that is 2'x8', one that is 2'x5', and lastly a small 2'x2' section. The problem is I can't figure out a way to effectively break it up without crossing over any turnouts, but this thing should be movable when the time comes. Suggestions?


Well after taking a look at it, I would split it down the middle vertically, moving the top switch to the right just a few inches for the siding and keep the right side as a 4' x 7', then split the left side into two 4' x 5' sections. A small move up on your far left switch as well as a move down on the right "yard" entry switch will take care of the switch placement issue and leave you with only three sections to move. I ran into a couple of these when I built mine and the small sacrifice was worth it... no issues with switches and the fewer the sections the better.
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Plus I would imagine that less sections translates to fewer issues with reconnection at a new location... Seems like a good plan. I'm not quite sure which switch you are calling the far left though? Also, if I split the left on 5' I'll be pretty much right in the middle of two turnouts. I'll take a good look and see what I can move. This track plan was just a preliminary idea anyway derived from the plan I wanted to build using turnouts I know I can find so it's not a big deal to tweak where needed.


I did some dabbling on your drawing to show you what I would suggest...the three sections are divided by the bold lines and I drew circles and directions to move on three switches. It doesn't look like you have to move them much, so you won't loose much.mining layout.jpg
That was my understanding of what you were saying. Glad we are on the same page :) I know I have to move that top switch anyway because otherwise it'll be in a tunnel and that will not be a good thing. The others, no big deal I'll just move them where they have to go.

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