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Southwest desert scenery help!

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Southwest desert scenery help!
Posted by Anonymous on Friday, March 30, 2001 7:57 PM
Greetings , I'm a novice to modeling, as such my attempts to find infro ,or good articals about desert materials, or techniques have been limited. My choice to model the southwest steam era 1900to 1940's is a great apprecication of the area, living in the NorthEast has truly limmited what I can find ,If anyone out there is modeling the desert, or the Southwest I'd like to here from you.thanks for any help, Dan.
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Posted by Anonymous on Friday, March 30, 2001 9:47 PM
Dan:

What part of the SW, as it can be defined as anywhere from Texas to Colorado to New Mexico and Arizona, even Oklahoma. I am modeling AZ, quite a variety of eco-zones. Suprisingly a lot of grass/shrubs/trees. The high areas have large ponderosa pine forests with grassy(not like your area) floors. Mid areas have scrubby cedar-like trees and scrubby grass. The desert is sandy/rocky with cactus, and scrubby bushes and trees, patchy grass. Along rivers the foilage can be thick as your region, except is is only within several feet of the water, then desret again. Arizona's terrain can rapidly change from sandy ground, to Roadrunner cartoon rock formations, to boulder fields. Lots of eroded gullies. The high country has a lot of grass for grazing, though it is a paler green than your area. The rainy season (Aug-Oct, Jan-Feb)changes all this, and the desert will erupt into a sea of bright flowers and flowering trees/cactus.

The soil is varied tan, from "sand" to browns to pale orange, to pinki***an--in some areas, really pink! Some places I've been to the soil is an iron rust-brown. Watercourses are generally broad gullies with steep banks, though the Salt River through Phoenix is much like eastern rivers, just without the water!

The Feb., 2001 issue of Railroad Modeler has an article about modeling NM.

There is a 4 vol. series, "Railroads of Arizona". I'll try to find the author. Check your library--if they don't have it, ask if they do INTERLIBRARY LOAN.
Hope this helps.

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Posted by Anonymous on Friday, March 30, 2001 9:54 PM
Dan,

The series is "Railroads of AZ" by Myrick. Vol. II is about Phoenix's railroads. I think Vol. I is about the SP throuhg the low desert, Vol. III is the ATSF across the high desert, and Vol. IV is about passenger service.

There is also a new book out, "Santa Fe in the Lone Star State", by Goen. I am looking for it.

Also, go to Model Railroader magazine's site nad look in the index. Several layouts are based in the west.

Regards,

Fred
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Posted by Anonymous on Saturday, March 31, 2001 2:07 PM
Hi Fred ,First , thanks for the reply, We are modeling the Sonoran desert thru southern AZ.using the Southern Pacific line around Tucson. Finding ways of creating the great variety of ground cover found in the desert ,has been our biggest problem .I've visited there several times,and quite taken with the topography and extent of diverse cactus/plant life. The books you refered to are a great source of rail history,since all the photos are in b&w the type of ballast used and weathering techniques has still gives us questions,along with creating different cactus,again thanks, Dan
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Posted by Anonymous on Saturday, March 31, 2001 10:48 PM
Might I suggest a trip to a public library. They should have a few publications with color pictures
of the Arizona desert. "Arizona Highway" magazine is a good source of color pictures, as is "National Geographic". The library wil have a periodical index that will help locate appropriate articles.
Also a couple of years ago MR had a series of article by David Barrow(sp?) who modeled the desert. I believe the name of his RR was/is the Cat Mountain and Santa Fe.

I hope this helps
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Posted by Anonymous on Sunday, April 1, 2001 2:18 PM
Hi Rob, I've found some Arizona Highway magazines, thay have excellent photography, and articals.I'm also trying to work my way thru MR site to find back issues on my subjectI hope when we finally fini***his project we do the southwest justice,thanks for the help,Dan
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Posted by Anonymous on Monday, April 2, 2001 12:10 AM
Dan,

In a Myrick book it noted the dark ballast which he stated was cinders--apparently the SP used a lot of that in AZ. Otherwise, they probably--assuming the rock was usable--didn't haul crushed stone far to use as ballast, thus use local agnates.

That said, today I drove along about 20 miles of the SP line from Gilbert towards Florence Jct., AZ. The ballast was a browni***an, a bit darker than the local soil. I noted that where the ballast ended at the soil, there was often a thin dark border--cinders? I should have gotten out to look.

THAT said, the track's ballast along the Arizona RR Museum in Chandler, looked like good old fashion midwest limestone ballast!

As I am planning part of my layout to go through the Phoenix area, I am planning to get a sample of the ballast tommorow.

I wish I'd thought about Arizona Highways (one of the most highly acclaimed state mags in the USA)--I subscribed to it for 5 years! Duuuh! One thing I've learned about magazine pic references, the colors can be deceptive. The printing process, the inks, and especially the photos themselves can be "not quit right". Note that many A. H. pics give info about the camera, film, and filters used. The filters make a BIG difference! I've always begrudged that the red rocks of Sedona do not look as red in through my eyes as they do in a magazine. Put on my sunglasses, they get more intense.

Anyway, the notes I took while there tell me that much of the ground around Tucson is "sand", just a grayish beige. Large areas of silt from the darker mountains "cloud" large areas of the sand. Sand I've bagged is closely matched by Polly Scales' Concrete, while anohter bag has that nice pinkish cast to it. And if that ain't enough, when my mom was having her yard done, she had 7 different mixes of local sand. They ranged from "sand", to "desert pink", to a brown-rusty gray. From the air I think Polly Scale's aircraft Italian aircraft Hazel Tan, and Isreali armor sand matches great areas of local soil, while I plan to use a lightened Khaki Drab for mountains.

Prior to my subscribing in 1996, MR had an article about modeling desert flora. Don't recall the author, and about 2 years ago there was a NICE layout modeled in AZ in your era.

Regards,

Fred
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Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, April 3, 2001 8:38 PM
Great infro Fred! that was just the kind of help I've been looking for,asking my family in Tuscon just created more questions on what I was looking for. and I agree that, what you see, compared to mag photo, does differ, just like the changing shades of Sodona or the Grand Canyon IMAGINE MODELING THAT! Thanks again Fred,Dan

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