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The Columbia and Western Railway


Superintendent Mark Dance
Location CPR Boundary Subdivision
Interchange CPR and Great Northern
Size 20 feet by 20 feet
Scale N
Era 1970
Control DCC Digitrax
Clock Speed 5:1
Session Length 3 Hours
Crew Size 8
Dispatching TT&TO
Car Forwarding tab on car
Communication telephones
Jobs Dispatcher,Nelson Yard west, Nelson Yard east & Road crews
Accessibility Ground Floor Duckunder
Prototype/Frelanced Scale Prototype
Length of Mainline 7 scale miles
Yards 1 division point Nelson
Number of Passing Sidings 6
Scenery Complete 50%
Carspots 70
Motive Power Diesel (50% FM, 40% GM, 10% Alco)
Rolling Stock lots
Train Lengths 15 to 25 cars
Track Construction Peco code 55
Session Atmosphere as casual as TT&TO can get

The N-scale Columbia & Western is a model of the Canadian Pacific’s torturous Southern mainline through the Kootenay Mountains of South-Eastern BC. Constructed in four levels, the layout has 6 scale miles of mainline with a pusher grade in both directions, and a 2 scale mile branch line which simulates rail/barge operations on Slocan lake. The layout is 100% operational and about 60% sceniced.

The layout, like the prototype, features ore and lumber industry traffic with several large mills on the modeled portion. We use TT&TO for train movement and tag-on-car for car movement. Scheduled trains are run Westbound while all Eastbounds run as extras. The through freights are normally 20 to 30 cars led by 3 to 4 locos. Like the prototype the locos come from a variety of builders with approximately 50% of Fairbanks Morse design.

The layout can accommodate up to 8 operators plus a dispatcher. Positions can include Nelson yard and hostler positions, branch line/barge and pulp mill switching jobs, plow trains and pushers, and through and wayfreights. Easy to use, Digitrax UT4R radio throttles are available for mainline freights. The Dispatcher controls the Train Order signal indications directly through the Digitrax Loconet bus and governs the fast clock, normally set at 5:1.
Articles on the C&W have been published in several magazines including
Railroad Model Craftsman (May2013),
Model Railroad Planning (2012)
Canadian Railway Modeller August/September 2012
and the Layout Design Journal (#37).

In these 2 videos Mark Discusses the C&W and how it is operated.