The Looming Dilemma is a free Model Railroad Discussion Forum and photo gallery. We cover all scales and sizes of model railroads. Whether you're a master model railroader or just getting started, you'll find something of interest here.

grande man

Bonafied Grande Nut
Folks, I've got a problem. As many here know, I'm a bonafied Rio Grande nut. My interest in the Grande is from about 1950 on. Now, I'm developing a driving interest in the Birmingham District after my many visits to historical sites and research. My interest in the District is from about 1875 to 1950 and is growing daily.

I've been thinking for quite some time about our next model RR. Originally, the thought of a basement sized D&RGW layout captivated my thoughts (still does ;) ). Now I'm torn between that and modeling the Birmingham District in about 1925. We would never be able to do two conventional layouts.:(

What to do? Well, one thought that comes to mind is to build a double deck layout with an unconventional twist, the levels wouldn't be connected but would rather be two separate railroads. I'm thinking that the space between the levels could be increased over the standard type, say 24-30 inches. That would help allieviate my main pet peeve with such construction, a cramped look to the lower level.

Any ideas? This is a long way off, but it's never to early to make plans.


Diesel Detail Freak
Very tough! It took me over 3 years to finnaly narrow down to Cajon Pass, I wanted snow, and desert, and forests and hills, and helper power, and all that stuff... Anyways, I'd say plan for the double deck, but then also do double deck plans for both, say a double deck Grande layout and a double deck Birmingham District layout.

In fact the biggest comprimse, and maybe the COOLEST would be, say to push the Birmingham District into maybe the 70's or 80's, use your modelers licence, and say, Grande is now operating that line, and the mines and industries are still in full swing.


M.E.S.S. Maker
Go freelance and combine both themes. Start up a shortline that leases Rio Grande equipment or where Rio Grande is the parent company. If you were N scale then have Rio Grande in the West with a bridge to the East.

Possibilities are endless



Lake Shore Lines
Double Decking would not be a bad idea. The height between the two is about right for making a good break between visuals. Would suggest that the highlights of each be in different locations on each level, that way the two levels of detail wouldn't cause someone to keep looking up and down in the same area.

BTW, who says you have to stick to the specific dates in time. With the exception of the few purists, no one is really going to get overly concerned about what is running in each.

Bob A.

grande man

Bonafied Grande Nut
Hi all. Thanks for all the suggestions. While I have no problem with some freelanced D&RGW, I think it would have to be pretty prototypical in regard to any Birmingham District modeling to trip my trigger. I'm thinking about scratched/kitbashed structures from historical photos and my own observations of the mine sites. One of the District's unique features was that everything was close. Woodward Iron for example, had their furnaces, coal mines, ore mines and limestone within a small area (10 miles maybe) and their own RR to serve them. TC&I was much the same. Sloss was similar except the L&N served them and their furnaces were in downtown Bham. In a basement sized layout, you could almost model some of these interests in their entirety!

Keep the ideas coming. This thing is building momentum in my mind. It's still a long way off though.

You have 2 very diverse interests! Did the Rio Grand serve the Colorado Fuel & iron Plant(CFI) in Puebo, Colorado. the CFI plant had a 120 oven and 146 oven coke batteries, 4 blast furnaces,16 open hearths, 2 blooming mills. This is late 40's information. I am not sure what the CFI mill produced. I am pretty sure they had a rail mill. Using the CFI plant as a focus might allow you to combine the best of both interests. There were ore deposits in Colorado and Utah. Since the notes I have show it to be the same type of iron ore (Hematite) it was probably mined in similar manner. So you could use the local mines as the prototypes for the mines on your layout after all who would know!

Use a given and druthers list to help focus what you want and give you a way to judge any trackplans against your vision.

Hope this gives you some food for thought!



Master Mechanic

Very good information.:) If Eric is having a problem choosing locales and eras to model, this will make his choice that much harder.:p

Good fer U!:D:D:D

Hey, I got to keep some controversy going some place!:D

I thought I had come up with an almost perfect solution. Pueblo is served by both the Rio Grande and the Santa Fe. I would suspect both RR's served the CFI plant. My info was for the late 40's. I suspect the mill was there much earlier. Last I knew the plant was still in operation. So Eric could model any period. :)

Guess the next ARG meeting will allow for more confusing ah, shareing of information with Eric!:D Have you heard when and where the April meeting will be? We are running out of month!


Affiliate Disclosure: We may receive a commision from some of the links and ads shown on this website (Learn More Here) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to - An online railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used railroad books. Railroad pictorials, railroad history, steam locomotives, passenger trains, modern railroading. Hundreds of titles available, most at discount prices! We also have a video and children's book section. - An online model railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used books. Layout design, track plans, scenery and structure building, wiring, DCC, Tinplate, Toy Trains, Price Guides and more.