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Ventura County Ry. in a Garage

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 Genesee & Wyoming 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.

Ventura County Railroad, track plan, N scale, garage

Click image for an Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) file of layout details

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.

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