Layout Design - BCSJ II - Track plan Version 17

Layout Design
BCSJ II - The Garage Layout - Version 17

BC&SJ route map

Mill City, Oregon page.

Shelburn, Oregon page.

The BCSJ II layout page.

lower level staging
Lower level staging - Salem

lower deck
Lower deck Bear Creek Yard and Mill City.

middle deck Middle deck - Detroit/Idanha and Sherman Jct.

upper deck Upper deck - South Jackson yard and Pocatello staging.

Bear Creek & South Jackson - Garage Track Plan
Version 17

A Brief History of the Corvalis & Eastern

In the late 1800's the Corvalis and Eastern Railroad began building another transcontinental rail line. They starter from Corvalis Oregon and began building West to the Pacific Ocean (which they reached at Toledo) and East following the North fork of the Santiam River. In 1893 they reached Idanha within 15 miles of the summit of the Cascades. But 1893 was not a good year for them, the financial panic stopped them cold. The line to Idanha became part of the Southern Pacific system but was never pushed over the Cascades to Bend or Prineville. Today the line is called the Mill City branch and extends barely to the outskirts of Mill City and the Frank Lumber Co.

But what if a newly formed Railroad Company shows up with cash in hand and picked up the assets of the C&E for a song? With the trackwork from Toledo through Albany and up the Santiam pass already complete (and without the debt load of the C&E) the new Railroad completes the line over Santiam Pass and on to Redmond with a SP&S connection, across Eastern Oregon through Prineville and Burns then terminating with a UP connection in Pocatello. This is the basis for the second version of the BC&SJ.

Introducing the Bear Creek and South Jackson

The time is 1952. Railroads around the country are still healthy. Ike is President. The lumber mills in the mountains are producing forest products at a prodigious rate. The larger towns have other needs too (besides logs and empty lumber cars).

The SP still enjoys trackage rights up the Santiam pass but doesn't use them as often now that the Cascade line is open. Still it's not an unusual sight to see Black Widow F units and Cab Fowards battling the 2.7% grade to the summit.

The bridge across the Willamette River was seriously weakened in the spring floods of '51 and a car float has been pressed into service (to avoid those extra charges from routing across SP, SP&S, or OE bridges) while the BC&SJ bridge gets rebuilt.

The Toldeo line is feeding a steady stream of paper, freight and agricultural products through Corvalis and across the car float to Albany where it is redirected off to final destinations. The envisioned ocean going port at Toledo never happened but there is enough traffic to keep the line to the coast open.

The BC&SJ Garage Division

Points West (staging)

The car float provides off layout staging for Corvalis and Toledo. Mostly lumber and agricultural products.

Bear Creek Yard (North Albany)

The modeled portion of the line starts at Bear Creek yard in North Albany where there are lots of rail-served local industries. From the Bear Creek yard tracks lead off

  • north to Salem and Eugene (in lower level staging)
  • west to the Willamette car float connecting with Corvalis and Toldedo (on the Pacific)
  • east to Mill City and the Cascade crossing


A short distance East of Albany the tracks intersect the East side line of the SP. at Shelburn. In this universe there is no interchange here. Just a tower to keep trains from T-boning each other.

Mill City

The tracks have done most of the easy route by the time they get to Mill City. Here are a number of saw mills and one of the several Santiam River crossings. The crossing in question is via an antique Pin-connected Pratt Truss bridge. This bridge is built with round cross section vertical and diagonal beams, split into longitudinal sections with flanges on the edges. The flanges are riveted together to give the members their circular cross section (this bridge is similar to one in the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento) Detroit

After leaving Mill City the track clings to the side of the Santiam river until reaching Detroit. The real life Detroit was relocated by the army corps of engineers when the Detroit Dam on the Santiam was constructed. But on the model the flooding is still a year away. In the meanwhile Detroit is a source of logs and a gravel quarry that supplies much of the ballast used on the BC&SJ.

Sherman Jct

Marks the intersection of the Sisters Branchline with the BC&SJ main. There isn't much here, an interchange track and another small sawmill.

South Jackson Yard (at Redmond)

The last modleled area is South Jackson which is a major yard area for the BC&SJ as well as having a number of industries (perhaps too many for the locale and period but mine and logging supplies have to come from somewhere?). The turning facitily here is a wye. There is also an interchange between the SP&S (Oregon Trunk Line) and the BC&SJ.

Points East (staging)

Continuing further East, track reaches Prineville, Burns, and Pocatello all represented by the upper level staging area - Bend (on the Oregon Trunk Line) is also represented by staging).

Dealings with other railroads

When the BC&SJ ran short of cash in the early 1900's the SP became a part owner of the line in exchange for trackage rights. Thus in 1952 it isn't uncommon to see a set of Black Widow diesels or a Cab Foward or two (or a mix of em) dragging a freight over the Santiam pass on BC&SJ track.

When the BC&SJ reached South Jackson/Redmond the SP&S (Oregon Trunk) was short of motive power. The Oregon Trunk was pretty well entrenched in hearts and pocketbooks of the local politicians and to allow the BC&SJ to cross their tracks they made a power pool deal. So you'll sometimes see SP&S units on the BC&SJ and BC&SJ units on the SP&S (if the SP&S tracks were better modeled)

I'm fond of the SP and have sweet spots for the SP&S and GN. One of the nice things about freelancing is the ability to "bend" history when it suits you! In real life the C&E wound up in the hands of the SP and various short lines headed West from Prineville and Bend. Who's to say it couldn't have happened this way?.

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The layout design is an around the wall (and peninsula) helix. By utilizing a sort of double-deck mushroom configuration on the center peninsula a mainline run of about 4.5 miles was achieved.

Advantages of this plan

  • full walkaround operation
  • scenic purity (if you don't count the apparent multiple decks)
  • west is always left orientation
  • no hidden staging areas (except for maybe Bear Creek)
  • raised floors make the upper deck accesible where it must be accessed
  • 5 towns averaging well over a train length of single track mainline between them. In some places there is nearly a scale mile between towns. Given the slow speed restrictions in the mountains TT&TO operation should be feasible.
  • NO helix (except that the whole layout is a sort of helix)
  • Hopefully an ample set of staging tracks
  • Continuous run for shows or relaxed ops (loop to loop)
  • 30" minimum mainline radius

Drawbacks of this plan

  • Two places where the aisles pinch down to 24" on either side of the peninsula turnback blob. (an artifact of a 12 foot wide space and 30" min radius)
  • Really complicated construction in the center peninsula
  • Eats up enough space in the garage to make life difficult when trying to store things like table saws (my wife is adamant about cars in the garage - I'm just lucky its a big enough garage to have the cars and the layout!)
  • A lot of narrow benchwork
  • Duckunders to get in/out of the layout room (but NO duckunders while operating!)
  • If I had twice or more space I'd make it a sing deck design (probably).
  • 30" minimum mainline radius - this will save me money because brass SP 4-10-2 or AC-XX steam power just won't operate here.
  • The length of the yard tracks in Salem isn't as long as I'd like. The occaisional longer train will need to double the yard.
  • In theory there should be a summit between Detroit and Sherman. But there isn't. Summit on the model is in the South Jackson Yard. Sigh...

Room features

  • Layout Area - 328 sqft (not counting the upper staging area)
  • L-shaped space (12' x 22' + 8' x 8') in a 3-car garage (26'deep x 30' wide).
  • Ceiling height ranges from 10'6" to 8'10".
  • Family cars can be parked in garage (need to be moved for construction or ops)
  • A large table saw (on wheels) are to be stored in the layout area under the peninsula turnback blob.
  • Aisle width - 24" minimum, much wider in most locations (widens out to nearly four feet in front of major town areas)
  • Aisles - aproximately 70' of aisle in a G shape (aproximately 160 sqft). Operators can not see more than a portion of the track from one location.

Track Specifications

  • 4.5 mile mainline (not including staging leads)
  • Style - walkaround around the walls helix with peninsula
  • Min mainline raidus - 30"
  • Min mainline turnout - #6
  • Min industrial turnout - #5
  • Max mainline grade - 2.7%
  • Track heights - 41" (lower staging) to 80" (upper staging)
  • Operation - point to point with interchange and helpers
  • Signaling - in staging only, mainline is dark for track warrants and TT&TO operation
  • Control - Tetherless command control (probably DCC radio throttles)
  • Lighting - Full day/night with automatic transitions
Locale / Era

  • Name - Bear Creek and South Jackson Railroad
  • Era - 1952
  • Locale - Route from the Pacific at Toledo, Oregon, across the Willamette River valley, over the Cascades to Bend then on through Burns, Oregon to Pocatello, Idaho. Modeled portion is from Albany to Redmond.
  • Scenery - Changes from river front at Salem to rolling hills, then mountains and finally high plains. Zillions of trees at lower elevations (ugh)
  • Route - follows N. Santiam river over Santiam pass along route surveyed by Corvalis and Eastern Railroad

  • Trains - mostly freight with mix of passenger service
  • Mix - through trains, drag freights, local turns, log trains, branchline interchange. SP trains from Portland to South Jackson to interchange with Oregon Trunk line
  • Dispatching - Track warrents or TT&TO
  • Operators - max 10 with 8 being more comfortable. Two yard operators, and one or two man crews for trains depending on work to be done. Plus dispatcher, staging operation, crew master and general superintendent
  • Helpers - Between Salem and South Jackson

This page and images Copyright © 1999-2005 by Charlie Comstock. All rights reserved.