Jim Rollwage from Wilmington, Ohio presented a very interesting clinic to Coal Division members at our October 2007 meeting.  Jim discussed the planning efforts behind his new layout representing the Denver Pacific, later Union Pacific, line between Denver, Coloroado, and Cheyenne, Wyoming.  Jim is modeling the portion of the line between Denver and La Salle, Colorado.  He has sent us a few photos showing progress on the layout.  The photos are quite large so click on the smaller photos on this page to see a larger version.  All photos and captions by Jim Rollwage.


It’s Christmas eve and a local freight pulls through the run around at Henderson after a light snow storm. This photo was staged for a Christmas card, all of the snow was vacuumed up afterwards returning the scene to normal.

UP 2302 is powering a local freight, Westbound along the Dent Branch. The coal cars were picked up at the coal mines located in St. Vrains and will be classified at La Salle to continue on to their destinations.

The largest and smallest locomotives on the Denver Pacific are being serviced at the Denver coal chute. In 1950, the 3985 was just another Challenger but, she would become a celebrity in future years.

The Kansas Pacific wye connects the Kansas Division and the Wyoming Division at SK Tower (on my layout). The freight train is Westbound from Kansas City to the 36th Street Yard at Denver.  On the other track, #10, the Eastbound City of Saint Louis passes SK Tower on it’s way to Denver Union Station. The wye is conservatively constructed with 42” curves and #8 switches to facilitate turning passenger trains and to accommodate large steam power.

In 1950, all freight trains have cabooses. UP 3769 is a model of a preserved caboose that I have ridden in, although under a different number. Reasonably priced plastic cabooses are produced by several manufacturers, making it possible to accurately model the Union Pacific in 1950.

NW-2 #1046 is an Athearn locomotive that has been modified in accordance with an article in Model Railroader. The switcher paint scheme was changed to yellow and gray in 1947. I reasoned that they didn’t re-paint them all at once and a few were still in the original black scheme in 1950.

Extra 3954 East is joining the main line from the Dent Branch at SK Tower. During WW-II, the Dent was upgraded to mainline standards to accommodate heavy trains. It acts as a secondary line between Denver and La Salle for extra trains when the main line is otherwise tied up.

SK Tower is the location of the end of double track and the CB&Q crossing. The Westbound Pony Express, #37 is crossing the CB&Q diamond on its way to Los Angeles. Being a secondary passenger train, FM Erie Builts are in charge rather than the more numerous EMDs.

The Pony Express is crossing the South Platte River on its way into Denver. This is a scheduled train and would not normally operate over the Dent Branch. The main line is tied up today and the Dispatcher has routed this train around the congestion.

# 812, a first series 4-8-4 leads the Pony Express Westward through Henderson. At Cheyenne, the steamer will be exchanged for diesels for the remainder of the trip to Los Angeles.

#4451 waits behind the depot in Henderson for #37 to pass before resuming its switching duties.

#38 passes the depot in Henderson, Colorado. This is a portion of the old layout that was salvaged and incorporated into the current layout.

An extra section of Christmas mail and express is being led by an FEF-1 4-8-4. The train is crossing the South Platte River before joining the main line to continue its journey to Denver.

Until 1941, all of the UP steam locos were designed to fit on a 100’ turntable. The WW-II era heavy Challengers broke with tradition and were about 20’ too long. At this late date in the steam era, UP was not going to replace all of its turntables. When the large Challengers visited Denver and other locations, shop forces used removable frogs to lift the rear of the tender enough to clear the radial tracks so the engine could be turned. In later years, when the Big Boys visited Denver, they were turned on the KP wye.

The Union Pacific is more than just Big Boys and Challengers. There were many smaller locomotives such as the 1584, affectionately known as the ‘Teakettle’ by the crews. The 1584 is switching some sugar beets at Henderson Colorado in one of her last years. Traffic increases due to the Korean War buildup have deferred the retirement of many of the older locomotives.

Here is a YouTube video that takes you on a tour of Jim’s layout.  Video by Matt Goodman.