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Funicular (cable) railway

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  • Member since
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Funicular (cable) railway
Posted by Anonymous on Saturday, October 28, 2006 2:07 AM
Has anyone modeled a funicular railway in HO or have ideas I could use?  I would like to try and would appreciate advice on where I can see photos or a design.  For an HO layout I would probably use N scale to keep the size relative as the cars and rails would seem to be smaller in prototype.
  • Member since
    October, 2005
  • From: Ulster Co. NY
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Posted by larak on Saturday, October 28, 2006 10:58 PM
You might check out the "otis elevating railroad". Very cool but long since gone. Do a google search or get the book "Rip VanWinkle Railroads" I believe that the author was Helmer. I don't have my copy handy. Good luck with your search.

The mind is like a parachute. It works better when it's open.

  • Member since
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  • From: Westcentral Pennsylvania (Johnstown)
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Posted by tgindy on Sunday, October 29, 2006 3:35 PM

How about a 70.9% grade on a hillside railroad?

The Johnstown Inclined Plane has been the world's steepest vertical railroad since 1891. It is still operating as a National Historic Landmark in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. It was built after the devastating Johnstown Flood of 1889 (2,209 victims) as a future escape route from flooding that was very beneficial in the 1936 Johnstown Flood, and was still used during the 1977 Johnstown Flood.

Main Page is

Links Page is

Here's some text from the Links Page...

Funiculars, Inclined Planes and Vertical Railroads are all similar devises that pull a vehicle up a steep incline, utilizing a cable (steel rope) system.  A variety of such vehicle systems exist around the world, from the simple one and two passenger variety, often used by homeowners who live atop cliffs or mountaintops, to those the size of Johnstown's Incline, with cars that can accommodate vehicles as well as passengers.  Some funiculars consist of many cars strung together, not unlike a true railroad.

Some, like Johnstown's Incline, use two cars to counterbalance each other on two separate tracks. Others consist of two cars, on one track with a central siding where the cars separate and bypass one another, such as the Altoona Curve funicular.  Other types of funiculars may utilize only one passenger car that is hoisted up and down the hillside or mountain.

I drive by this unique railroad almost every day, and have often thought about modeling it if the design and space allows it. A steep prototype would mean less layout real estate, and it would not necessarily have to be connected to any other part of the layout with an interchange. The Johnstown prototype offers hillside trees, observation platforms, hilltop restaurant, unique passenger cars, and an approach truss bridge spanning a river.

As Mister Rogers Neighborhood might say, "Can you say 99 44/100% scratchbuilt?"

Horseshoe Curve's Funicular (really a hillside elevator) seems "almost toylike" when compared to the Johnstown Inclined Plane, or the Duquesne Incline in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

I do remember seeing a European funicular model manufacturer somewhere in website travels, but it was more of a "passenger car-pulling" model that reminded one of a cog-style railroad without the Johnstown or Pittsburgh counter-balancing cars and was closer to what is found at Pike's Peak

Conemaugh Road & Traction circa 1956

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Posted by Anonymous on Sunday, October 29, 2006 5:24 PM

Thanks to 'larak' and 'tgindy' for the replies.  As far as I know we only have one real cable railway in Australia, at Katoomba in the Blue Mountains.  We have a few inclined plane units but these are mainly on private property.  Enjoyed the 'tour' around the various sites mentioned by 'tgindy' - so much so I might try a cog railway after the style of Pikes Peak - not on such a grand scale though!  The forums are great and an excellent source of information and ideas.
  • Member since
    December, 2005
  • From: Central Florida
  • 45 posts
Posted by Bob W on Sunday, October 29, 2006 7:28 PM

Here is another link for some good pictures and info.

Bob W [FL]

If it ain't broke.... Fix it till it is !

  • Member since
    November, 2002
  • From: NL
  • 614 posts
Posted by MStLfan on Tuesday, October 31, 2006 5:34 AM

Here is a link with pictures of funiculars in Portugal. Personally I like the one in Braga going to the Bom Jesus church on top of a hill. It is waterpowered. That would be difficult to model though.


Marc Immeker

For whom the Bell Tolls John Donne From Devotions upon Emergent Occasions (1623), XVII: Nunc Lento Sonitu Dicunt, Morieris - PERCHANCE he for whom this bell tolls may be so ill, as that he knows not it tolls for him; and perchance I may think myself so much better than I am, as that they who are about me, and see my state, may have caused it to toll for me, and I know not that.

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