Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Western Pacific in the Nevada Desert?

1523 views
15 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    March, 2016
  • 780 posts
Western Pacific in the Nevada Desert?
Posted by PRR8259 on Friday, November 09, 2018 10:41 PM

I can't help but notice that it seems most WP fans seem to be most interested in either the Feather River Canyon and/or Altamont Pass.

Is there anybody out there who focuses on the Nevada Desert portion of WP?

Got prototype photos you want to share?

Thanks--

John

  • Member since
    May, 2017
  • 198 posts
Posted by xboxtravis7992 on Saturday, November 10, 2018 10:28 AM

Rob Spangler's WP 8th Sub is a proto-freelanced route along the north shore of the Great Salt Lake from Ogden, down back towards the 'real' WP mainline in West Utah/Nevada. It takes a few key inspirations from locations on the desert portions of the WP in Utah and Nevada. He runs a great blog on his layout here: https://model-railroad-hobbyist.com/blog/rob-spangler

As for other modelers... I have tried sketching a few possible layouts that would follow the prototype WP from Salt Lake City out to Nevada, either Wells or Elko. All of these designs exist though only on paper and in my imagination; so nothing really tangable to share. There are a few places on the west end of the WP in Nevada I would love to model:

  • Wendover Nevada/Utah and the Deep Creek Railroad. Deep Creek was a steam era mining shortline that ran along the state border to Gold Hill, Utah. It shared shop facilities in Wendover with the WP. During WWII the Wendover Air Base supported the training for the atomic bomb crews that would later fly the missions carrying Fat Man and Little Boy in Japan. That Air Base was built alongside the former Deep Creek right of way, that the WP used as a rail spur to deliver railcars to the base. 
  • Arnold Loop: Its like the Horseshoe Curve's less famous second cousin or something. Very cool prototype in a very remote location that few people ever go out and visit. Would make a great way to transition from a first to a second deck on a multideck layout, with trains climbing up the Arnold Loop from one deck to another.

  • Shafter, Nevada: The Nevada Northern is a favorite of mine, and this spot were it interchanged with the WP would be a fun place to model. Imagine the NN 401 (the line's SD7) or some of the Kennecott ALCO's just bubbling at the interchange with a cut of waiting boxcars loaded with blister copper ready to ship out along the WP. The diamond can also offer an operational opportunity, with NN trains I think taking priority over the opposing WP trains if I remember the prototype right. 

  • Wells, Nevada. This is were the WP met again with the SP on its westbound trip to California, and from here on out the WP and SP follow each other. The Union Pacific also had a former Oregon Shortline branchline out from Idaho that dropped down to Wells, UP's only access to northern Nevada prior to the mergers. 
  • Humbolt River Valley. From Wells to Elko, the SP and WP follow each other alongside the Humbolt river. This 'oasis' in the desert offers up some green scenery growing in the river banks in contrast to the high desert surrounding the rest of the area. While traffic on the WP was light in comparison to the busy SP, the two shared trackage with one mainline running 'east' for both roads and the other running 'west' for both roads. So plenty of SP and WP train can be mixed together here as both railroads travel towards California. Carlin west of Elko was another SP hub point. If you get the chance to read any of Bob McKeen's posts on Facebook in the Southern Pacific groups he has a few good shots showing SP and some WP action in Carlin in the mid 20th century. The two competing railroad lines ran more-or less together until Winnemucca when they split again. A more modern era layout could include the Valmy Coal plant, that was built east of Winnemucca in-between the two mainlines. 
  • Member since
    May, 2004
  • 6,108 posts
Posted by 7j43k on Saturday, November 10, 2018 11:59 AM

I didn't do any of the above.

 

I'm building a module based on Sunol, at the entrance to Niles Canyon.  And another generic module based on nearby features.

 

Ed

  • Member since
    March, 2016
  • 780 posts
Posted by PRR8259 on Saturday, November 10, 2018 8:09 PM

Thank you for all the information.  I'll check it out.

More information is also welcomed.

John Mock

  • Member since
    November, 2002
  • From: US
  • 2,262 posts
Posted by wp8thsub on Saturday, November 10, 2018 9:27 PM

As was mentioned above, I model WP with a focus on Utah and Nevada scenery.  

Lakeview Aisle View 1

by wp8thsub, on Flickr

 

Lakeview Wash 1

by wp8thsub, on Flickr

 

DSC02053

by wp8thsub, on Flickr

There aren't many others.

Rob Spangler

  • Member since
    March, 2016
  • 780 posts
Posted by PRR8259 on Saturday, November 10, 2018 11:18 PM

Wow, beautifully done indeed.  Love the scenery and the way the backdrop blends in.

I had owned "Zephyrs Thru the Rockies" back in the day, and actually just purchased another nice hardback copy just because I'm interested in the neat photos of the west end of the Rio Grande, as well, and the "moonscape" photos of the Nevada desert in color.

John

  • Member since
    May, 2017
  • 198 posts
Posted by xboxtravis7992 on Monday, November 12, 2018 3:47 PM

You know, one thing mentioned in your original post that we haven't really brought up yet is prototype photos.

The WP, and the SP both were kind of neglected by photographing railfans in that era in western Utah and northern Nevada. Not to say they never did make it out there, but trips out into the high desert before I-80 was built could have been long and somewhat dangerous affair. Take for example Emil Albrecht who was one of the most active railfans in Utah during the late 1940's. His online collection of photos stops west on the WP at Garfield, just a few miles outside of Salt Lake City. 

Now I am not saying era appropriate prototype photos don't exisit, people did make it out there and there are some photos. But they aren't as common as some other lines are. The desert really spooked away most visitors.

The good news is though, since so much of the area is desolate and rural to this very day; you can drive out there or use Google Maps to get a great sense of the terrain. A lot of it has been untouched since the WP and SP laid their routes. Compared to the massive growth in the cities, the desert is still a primal landscape. 

  • Member since
    November, 2002
  • From: US
  • 2,262 posts
Posted by wp8thsub on Monday, November 12, 2018 9:43 PM

Thanks for the kind words, John!

Rob Spangler

  • Member since
    March, 2016
  • 780 posts
Posted by PRR8259 on Tuesday, November 13, 2018 9:07 PM

Yes, I surmised that people did not venture out into the desert much.  That's part of the challenge!

That is why I talked about the book "Zephyrs Through the Rockies"--because it does include a few photos of the full on rural desert areas, and it does talk about the "moonscape" of the Nevada desert.  I'm not aware of other books that even attempt to cover those areas.  If someone could point me in a direction that would be most helpful!

I live in PA, have always, always been drawn to the west, despite the fact I live about 1 mile from the PRR Rockville Bridge, but can't get to the Nevada desert anytime soon...no time off or money for the drive...

I have been to Cajon Pass, Summit, Sullivan's Curve, Tehachapi Loop, seen perhaps a few parts of the former Los Angeles and Salt Lake, Santa Fe across Arizona, and SP at Tucson in the Saguaro Desert. 

However, I've never gotten to see any parts of WP, and if I get to California again, I want to see the ghost town of Bodie, in/near the Nevada state border.

I believe the Western Pacific 4-6-6-4 to be simply one of the most beautiful steam engines ever constructed by anybody (a much prettier cousin of the UP 4-6-6-4), but they toiled in that lonely desert, and were very rarely photographed--even less rarely in color--and almost always the photos are at/near Salt Lake City.  Sadly, the very same terrain they were designed to conquer was an "easy fit" for the first diesels, and they were gone far too soon!

I guess there weren't too many railfans out there, and/or the critters and lack of water just did not "encourage" the few who were there.

Having once worked making plenty of PRR models, in metal, for an HO company, I have come to respect PRR, but I love the railroads of the far west and southwest.

John

  • Member since
    May, 2017
  • 198 posts
Posted by xboxtravis7992 on Wednesday, November 14, 2018 9:36 PM

PRR8259

I'm not aware of other books that even attempt to cover those areas.  If someone could point me in a direction that would be most helpful!

Here are a few suggestions:

Crossroads of the West (Kooistra, Belmont, Gayer) Yes this is focused on the state of Utah and not Nevada; but there are a few photos of the WP route through western Utah both prior to and after the UP merger. Not a lot of WP photos (only three pages or so of the entire book cover the WP) but the photos on the neighbor LA&SL route show a very similar desert landscape and that is pretty well covered in the book. Another recommendation, James Belmont who co-authored the book is pretty active sharing his photos online on Flickr & Facebook with some older stuff on RailPictures; although again most of those photos fall on the Utah side of the line. 

Nevada Northern Railway (Images of Rail) (Mark and Joan Bassett); again not focused on the WP; but since the NN was a major NN interchange partner with the WP in the state of Nevada; I think it is worthy of addition to any WP fan collection. Mark is the director of the modern NN museum and tourist train operation; Joan is his wife, so they really know their stuff (unlike some other Images of Rail books that have some pretty blatant errors due to local authors unawares of railroad history, Mark's hands on railroading knowledge seeps through every page of this book). 

Southern Pacific's Salt Lake Division (Signor); I have not read this book; but I do have a copy of John Signor's book on the LA&SL so I assume it is of similar quality. Since the SP and WP shared trackage between Wells and Winnemucca Nevada I am going to make a wild guess and figure some WP power will feature in the book. Signor also has a miraculous power of finding old photos of rarely photographed lines, so if anywhere happens to have some old desert photos its likely to be here. The only issue is Signor's books are very expensive. (Also since I have mentioned the LA&SL, the scenery on that line was very similar. Signor's book and Mark Hemphill's book on that railroad are both worth checking out for another sense of 'high desert' railroading)

Railroads of Nevada and Eastern California (Myrick) again another set of books I have not read myself; but from what I have heard of it here and there is its another worthwhile purchase. It comes in two volumes so I don't know what one focues on the WP.

Again, my knowledge of the Nevada side is a bit limited since I live in Utah and that is what I am most familiar with. At least with Utah a search on UtahRails.Net can churn up a lot of useful information. Interesting fact, most of the former WP branchlines in Utah are still intact; some still with active customers. 

  • Member since
    December, 2001
  • From: Northern CA Bay Area
  • 3,970 posts
Posted by cuyama on Wednesday, November 14, 2018 9:56 PM

Tim Morris; Western Pacific Trackside with Bob Larson; Morning Sun; 1999. About twenty pages of color photos of the WP in Nevada. Not a lot of variety in the scenery.

  • Member since
    March, 2016
  • 780 posts
Posted by PRR8259 on Saturday, November 17, 2018 10:00 PM

Thank you guys.

I do also have an interest in the Signor book and just didn't buy it yet.  

Also, a dvd I picked up has a little bit of Nevada desert footage in it:  Charles Smiley's "Western Pacific the Last Decade".  I really have enjoyed it.

Thanks again.  More suggestions always welcome.

Btw, the HO Athearn Genesis "Final 4" WP F-7's are out on the street now, and I just received the A-A set of 913/917 in their late '70's schemes (913 with the plow and in the orange and silver).  I have occasionally not been happy with some Athearn products--but these models are actually really nicely executed and very correct to the individual units they represent!  So I'm thankful to Athearn for doing them for us!

John

  • Member since
    January, 2016
  • From: Billings, MT
  • 42 posts
Posted by Srwill2 on Saturday, November 17, 2018 11:44 PM
Rob, what are you using for your sagebrush? I can’t seem to get my color right. Yours is very good!
  • Member since
    November, 2002
  • From: US
  • 2,262 posts
Posted by wp8thsub on Sunday, November 18, 2018 9:21 AM

Srwill2
Rob, what are you using for your sagebrush? I can’t seem to get my color right. 

 

Try the "sagebrush"color ground foam from Accurail http://www.accurail.com/accurail/sunlit/foam.htm.   I apply that to armatures made from chunks of 3M paint stripping pads (that come in dark gray).

Rob Spangler

  • Member since
    January, 2016
  • From: Billings, MT
  • 42 posts
Posted by Srwill2 on Sunday, November 18, 2018 2:13 PM

wp8thsub

 

 
Srwill2
Rob, what are you using for your sagebrush? I can’t seem to get my color right. 

 

 

Try the "sagebrush"color ground foam from Accurail http://www.accurail.com/accurail/sunlit/foam.htm.   I apply that to armatures made from chunks of 3M paint stripping pads (that come in dark gray).

 

 

Thanks Rob, I appreciate it. 

  • Member since
    November, 2015
  • 1,116 posts
Posted by ATSFGuy on Sunday, December 30, 2018 3:30 PM

Yes, WP did go through the northern part of Nevada. 

SP tracks ran west from Ogden, UT to California.

Looking at a WP map from American Rails.com, it served Gerlach, Winnemucca, Wells, Sparks, and there was a branchline to Reno.

If I missed any areas, let me know.

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Users Online

There are no community member online

Search the Community

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Model Railroader Newsletter See all
Sign up for our FREE e-newsletter and get model railroad news in your inbox!