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HO Canadian Prairie Crossing Layout

Proto-freelancing on the plains of Alberta

My client had a very clear picture of what he wanted to include in this layout: A crossing of two favorite real-life Canadian railroads, two or three smaller prairie towns with signature grain elevators, and hidden staging to provide for operating interest.

The only problem? There's no spot outside of large cities where the desired railroads (Canadian National and Northern Alberta Railways) actually crossed and interchanged. Once again, proto-freelancing to the rescue! 


The client suggested that Stettler, AB might be an interesting inspiration from which to draw, even though different railroads crossed there in reality. This turned out to be a great suggestion as the crossing with interchange and double-ended elevator sidings on each route proved to be very modelgenic.

Stettler AB railroad
Canadian National Northern Alberta Railways HO scale model railroad

Click image for a larger labeled Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) view in a new window

The 175 square foot space for the layout was a corner of a basement, with boundaries fairly rigidly determined by walls, a support post, and household negotiations. A doughnut-plus-peninsula footprint fit well and the resulting design incorporated all of the desired elements. We were even able to work in a small riverside coaling scene for the NAR, visible from outside the doughnut.


Model railroad crossings can be tricky if all four legs must be active, but making the angle shallower than 90° helps substantially. The need for secluded staging created some slight complexities in an area of benchwork that the client is building to be removable by rolling away, but he seems quite up to the task.


You can read much more detail on the layout in the May/June 2010 issue of Model-Railroad-Hobbyist media-zine, always free for download on the web! The article includes prototype and layout construction photos, an example of a layout footprint that didn't work, and more details of the planning process.

This layout is already under construction -- if you'd like to get started on a layout of your own with a custom track plan, please contact me today!

Canadian National Northern Alberta Railways HO scale model railroad
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