From the Desk of the Superintendent

The last monthly meeting of the South Mountain Division (SMD) 2022 / 2023 year will be held on Sunday, 21 May at the home of Rich Randall in Gettysburg, PA. Please contact the Superintendent at for a map to get there, and parking instructions.

The business meeting will address several issues to include 2023 / 2024 officers and the planned summer outing to the East Broad Top Railroad.

About Rich’s layout:

The Milwaukee Road
Avery Division Point
Approximately 40’ x 34’ O Scale Model Railroad

This standard gauge (O5w) model railroad under construction will attempt to portray the Milwaukee Road prototype equipment and operation at Avery, Idaho on or about September 1973. The overall layout is a single track, dogbone with passing sidings. The center of the model is the Avery yard, much compressed, but laid out generally like the prototype. Models of several of the prototype buildings are nearly complete, to capture the essence of the area.

Traveling east from Avery, the 2.5% climb up the Bitterroot Mountains to Montana is simulated in the model with a grade up to the ceiling (partially, and unfortunately, with a helix), through a 3-track passing siding, and terminating in a 3-track return loop. Only a few tunnels, and one large steel viaduct will be modeled to represent the dozen + on the prototype. This line was electrified at 3300 volts DC from Avery to Harlowton, MT, and the model will eventually reflect this, but at much lower voltage. The wire has to go up last on the model.

Traveling west from Avery, the Idaho and eastern Washington area is simulated in the model with a flat run of track with a 3-track passing siding, and ending in the other 3-track return loop. There is provision for a takeoff here to a 5-track storage yard below the layout, via a helix – installed but not yet operational.

The layout main line is operational using NCE DCC, with scenery started in several places.

There are five “industrial” sites under development where local trains (called “patrols” on the Milwaukee) will switch cars.
Additional features planned for completion someday are:

  • Expansion of “Idaho” 3-track passing siding, and Montana return loop to 5-tracks each.
  • Incorporation of an interurban line, analogous to the prototype Spokane and Inland Railway (S&IR), that ran in the area until the 50’s. This will be an excuse for a trolley museum with all kinds of electric railway equipment for display, and for railfan excursions. The line will also interchange freight with the MILW main, using vintage electric locomotives.
  • Incorporation of a narrow gauge line, analogous to the Milwaukee owned Chicago, Bellevue, Cascade, and Western RR, that ran in Iowa. This admittedly will be out of place and time. This line will bring ore to trans-load into MILW hoppers.
  • Incorporation of a quarry line.
  • A branch line to run from Avery East Yard to a distant Gypsum Plant. Much modeler’s license is exercised here to include typical Milwaukee Road branch line customers from a half dozen different prototype branches in the West.

Prototype time and place will be stretched often with equipment that ran in a different era or never ran in the west. Examples are the famous Milwaukee Road Hiawatha steam engines and passenger trains. (Not totally unreasonable – Remember the “Chessie Steam Specials”?}

It is anticipated that one day the railroad will be operationally interesting, featuring through freights, through and local passenger trains, power changes at Avery, patrols switching at five modest industrial sites and the branch line, and blocking of cars at Avery. My intention is to have enough staging to permit an operating session to be conducted without returning trains through the scenes.

The usual admonition is still in effect. If you have symptoms of COVID or have recently been exposed, we would ask you not to attend. Otherwise, everyone is welcome.

Turnout for the SMD year to date has been very good. Let’s finish the year with an even better turnout.

Bob Johnson
2022-2023 SMD Superintendent

Please find the March draft meeting minutes at this link: <>.

Author: smdnmra

South Mountain Division, Mid-Eastern Region, National Model Railroad Association