Nifty 1950s shortline interchanging with the Southern Pacific
The Ventura County Railway (VCY) in Southern California is a very interesting
switching shortline that dates back to 1902. Over the years, it has served a sugar mill, a Navy Seabee base, produce packers
and canners, even automobile importers. The shortline connects with the Union Pacific (formerly Southern Pacific) in Oxnard,
CA and is still active today as the Ventura County Railroad under the RailAmerica banner.
I once lived about twenty miles from the VCY and planned at one time to
build an N scale model of the railroad (circa 1955) in my slightly oversized garage. The garage would still need to accommodate
my car, but provided plenty of room for the VCY's interchange with the Southern Pacific and large representations of many
of the VCY's customers.
The Ventura County Railway is covered in great detail in Bruce Morden's
article in Layout Design Journal #26, published in the Spring of 2001 by the Layout Design SIG. The article includes a detailed description of my plan, along with another conceptual plan by Jon Cure, as well as spotting
maps and a number of photos.
click image for a labeled Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) view in a new
For that article, I reworked my plan from about 1990. It illustrates a few
ideas I've used on many other plans. The layout bridges the hood of the car, making use of the "big aisle" where the car parks.
I assumed that the car would be out in the driveway for major construction or operation.
Active staging at the left-hand side would allow for duplicating many of
the Southern Pacific's famous trains that ran up and down the Coast Line in the 1950s, including the Daylight passenger trains
and "Overnight" express freights. This staging are would also generate traffic for interchange with the VCY, of course. A
turntable in the active staging area would have allowed hands-off turning and shuffling of SP steam power.
The VCY itself includes interleaved peninsulas that make good use of the
space available and isolate operating areas and scenes via double-sided backdrops. Industries are relatively large, one of
my four cornerstones of layout design. (In fact, all of the cornerstones are well-represented here).
One thing I would probably change based on experience is to make the tracks
less rigidly parallel to the benchwork edges.
This layout was never built due to the scarcity of the key 1950s-era VCY
models in N scale (GE 70-tonners) and my evolving interests (not to mention procrastination skills). But it was a great space
and would have been a very engaging model railroad.