My first year working for Burlington Northern just happened to coincide with the final 8 months of operations of their Alco locomotive fleet. Being around the smokey, chortling, four-cycle engined, beasts day and night had me hooked from then on. Once you've heard a single C-636 start a heavy transfer drag on a cold, clear night....you'll never be satisfied with the products of EMD.
Around late 1980, I moved into a rental house with a 2 car garage that immediately became the home of my new model railroad. I eventually decided to free-lance this one, a bridge road in the Pacific Northwest, connecting Western Washington with South Central Oregon. In the manner of the yet to be created Montana Rail Link, The Cascade Railway would operate it's own freight trains and locals, but would also host long distance trains of the Burlington Northern.
The modeled Cascade was an E shaped point to point railroad representing 1 subdivision of the ficticious system. Home road power was an assortment of mostly 4 axle Alco roadswitchers with a couple of end cab switch engines for yard duties. There were 2 paint schemes used, a slightly simplified version of the Canadian Pacific gray & maroon represented the original scheme and the modern paint a bright red and black ( a la Washington Central). The modern logo represented a volcanic mountain in front of a full moon (actually a CP Rail loco on its' side)
The Cascade wasn't a portable railroad, but it was built strong enough to make a move across town in 1989, when the home I had built was completed. I had a 3 car garage built with only a single car garage door...so 1 stall for the vehicle and, after the railroad was hauled over on a trailer and moved in, a 24' x 24' walled off room for the Cascade system.
The railroad was completed to a stage where operating sessions were held every month or two, using up to 6 operators. It reached a point where scenery was just getting started...and the management decided to go out and sample locomotives from EMD:
Finally in late 1997, I decided I needed to upgrade the railroad room by adding carpet. Sooooo, being a normal modeler...I chose to tear down the entire railroad to make it easier....and to come up with "something even better!" Alas, it never happened. After 20 years in the rain of Washington , and the depressing prospect of spending another 20 as an engineer on the same piece of track in the rain...the opportunity came up for Emily (wife & also a BN/BNSF employee) and I to make career changes....and a move to Texas of all places!
Next: Part 3....Fort Worth and the SP Santa Paula Branch