D&M local to Aberdeen


Follow the Dakota & Manitoba local from Caledonia to Aberdeen and return.

Stay tuned.


Power at the service track.

Power at the service track.  D&M 15 on right, ex CGW S1 on yard job, D&M 1212, ex CNW SW1 on left on road job.


The yard job puts the caboose on the CNW outbound turn, then will follow it south with a car of coal for the State Hospital south of the MILW crossing.

With the yard job out of the way, the 1212 comes out and doubles its train to the caboose.

Air test done, we're off with nine cars, seen here just out of Caledonia, crossing Rutgers Creek..

Crosby's, a rural crossing and a station sign.

Arriving at New Providence, train makes a cut and delivers an M&StL empty to the Farmer's Union Warehouse.

Air test and we're off for New Albany with eight cars, crossing County Road No.1.

Crossing Plank Road.

Crossing Oak Orchard Road and Oak Orchard Creek, south of New Albany.

Crossing Main St., New Albany, Depot

Train makes a cut to drop three cars on the setout track and one on the house track.

Train back together, air test and we're off for Aberdeen with four cars.  The Co-op and Hubbard Elevators were spotted, but two cars were left on the setout track, one for the Farmers Union and one for Ford-Weld-Cox Feeds.  They will be spotted on the way home when the local picks up and empty and a load going the other way.

The local stops at Aberdeen Jct., just south of Aberdeen, to swing the gate over the BN.  This is an ex-Northern Pacific branch.  They will work the transfer track after switching in town.

Diamond isn't completed yet.

Train pulls down to Main St., and makes a cut.  The local has two cars to pick up at each elevator, and one to set out at each.  The local will then pick up two from the BN and leave two.  The D&M continues north from here to Fair Oaks (L.G. Everist quarry) and Elgin (Peavey Elevator).  This section is mostly unfinished so the local will turn here today.

Picked up Union Equity, now at Co-op Grain & supply.

Spotting U-E and Co-op.

Work done in town, were back over the diamond, switching the BN interchange.  Picking up two cars of cement for Caledonia and one for the CNW.  We handle a little bit of overhead traffic between the CNW and the BN.

Work done at Aberdeen, the local heads south back to New Albany with seven cars.  At New Albany, the local picks up two cars on the setout track, and spots the two left on the way up.  Farmers Union Elevator and Ford-Weld-Cox Feeds get their cars.  FWC is a Purina and Texaco dealer.

Work all done, one more air test and the local departs for Caledonia with nine cars:  five loads of grain for the CNW, an empty feed car for the CNW, two loads of cement for Caledonia, and a load of lumber off the BN for the CNW.

One last shot of the caboose as they pull into the yard.  The road crew will cut away and take their caboose to the shop.  Tomorrow's yard crew will switch the cement over and start building a train for the CNW, who will be back tomorrow night with another drop.

Hope you enjoyed the trip.  Sorry the pix aren't that great, I'm no photographer.  The D&M is a semi-independent shortline owned by the CNW, hence the locomotives and car supply for the elevators.  The local supervision is able to shop around for good deals, hence the cabeese and other whims.  Era is early Fall 1973.  Thanks for looking.


As a bit of info, the real C&NW only had one branch that reached into North Dakota, ending at Oakes.  The fictional D&M assumes that Caledonia is somewhere north of Oakes and the D&M continues on towards Canada, but only makes it 30 miles or so out of Caledonia to Elgin, the end of track.  It also connects with the Milwaukee Road at Caledonia.  The CNW pays the D&M to switch the State Hospital powerhouse south of Caledonia as the turn from the Alco line is usually out of time upon arrival.  The D&M crosses former NP branch at Aberdeen and there is some overhead traffic between the CNW and BN.  The D&M's power is former CNW equipment, an ex-CGW S1 #15 and an ex-CNW SW1 #1212.  CNW will usually lease power in the Fall to the D&M to handle the grain rush.  The D&M has an American crane, a wedge snowplow and some MW cars and the two ex-PC cabeese.  Era is roughly September 1973, just before the grain rush.  Most of the business is grain, but there is a cement yard at Caledonia that gets cement and drilling mud for the nearby gas wells.  And, a local grocer gets several reefers a week of produce and meat at the team track.  There is a pig ramp at Caledonia too, but not that busy as I only have one 50' flatcar.  There are two elevators and an oil dealer at Caledonia as well.  A lumberyard at New Albany and a coal and oil dealer at Aberdeen round out the customer base. 

The layout is half handlaid code 55 and 83, and half code 83 flex and switches.  You can't get the Micro Engineering ties anymore so I have some Kappler ones on order to finish the branch to Elgin.  I'll have to stain them, so we'll see how they come out.  There is a hidden sneakoff loop that allows continuous running, but the layout is designed for one -person point to point operation.  Power is walkaround DC, I am DCC -challenged.  All of the passing tracks can be isolated so I can put a train or engine into one and run something else.  The hidden continuous-run connection has a long passing track where the CNW trains are staged and where the yard job goes when it serves the powerhouse.  The MILW has a separate hidden staging track as does the BN. The MILW has a branch job that makes a transfer as traffic dictates, usually 3-4 times a week.  The CNW comes 3 times a week, every other day and lays over at Caledonia.  Structures are mostly Walthers, some are scratchbuilt from plans in wood or styrene.  Most scenery is roughed in and alot of areas need detailing.  Most of the track needs to be ballasted.  The backdrop is pretty plain too, I hope someday to have photos to increase their depth.

Anyway, I have fun with it.  Except that I have a deep fondness for other CNW and MILW lines, but we gotta pick something to model.  I'll also admit to wanting to build the entire Rio Grande Southern, but the North Dakota plains are a bit easier to achieve!!! 

BNstringfellow's picture


Man, your scenery is awesome. Thanks for sharing. Could you possibly get a photo of the layout from a panoramic view. That would be great if you could. Thanks!



"The young blood in the hobby"

link to my blog: http://bnnelsonsub.blogspot.com/

Modeling Burlington Northern railroad's Nelson Subdivision In Northeastern Washington and Southern British Columbia in the 1980's

In Him,

David Stringfellow

Panoramic View

Thanks David, here's a few photos I took with my tablet.  This one looks out over Caledonia, New Providence is in the far corner.

Panoramic View 2

Here is a shot looking down the long wall.  New Providence is on the left, New Albany far left, Aberdeen far right.  Unfinished portion is on the right, but continuous run connection is in service, allowing me to let them run while I'm working on something.  Layout is a letter "L", you are standing in the corner looking up here.

dmitzel's picture

Dakota branchline railroading well captured


Coming from a native Dakotan (by blood) I have to say you've nailed the atmosphere of light-railed branchline railroading across the prairie. My dad's side hails from north-central South Dakota between Aberdeen and Mobridge, with roots running up the old Milwaukee Road Linton branch in the Zeeland, ND area. I spent many summers on the family farmstead not far from the former MILW mainline and the aforementioned branch NW from Roscoe, SD - and many trips into town with Grandpa or one of my uncles railfanning while they attended to business at the Co-op or farmer's elevator.

I've got to ask you - where did you find those 45 deg. crossbucks? I remember those all over the old Milwaukee tracks at non-signalled, passive crossings. They really capture the feel of the area.

Thanks, and please keep sharing - you have one heck of a time machine back to the '70s there.

D.M. Mitzel
Oxford, Mich. USA
Visit my layout blog at http://danmitzel.blogspot.com/


Those crossbucks are copied from Model Railroader.  They were printed in the Kitty hawk Central series from the 80's and earlier once maybe twice in the 70's. I copy them on the copier onto some card stock and cut out with a xacto knife.  I paint the back silver and mount on a switch timber(I handlay), voila.  I can look up the issues if you are interested.  Thanks, glad you enjoyed the trip.  I've never been to ND or SD, so I model what I gather from photos.


BNstringfellow's picture

Thank you for those shots.

Thank you for those shots. That's very helpful. You have some beautiful work there.


"The young blood in the hobby"

link to my blog: http://bnnelsonsub.blogspot.com/

Modeling Burlington Northern railroad's Nelson Subdivision In Northeastern Washington and Southern British Columbia in the 1980's

In Him,

David Stringfellow

jdhogg69's picture


I have to say, knowing the railroad and the layout, the thing that has always impressed me the most is your hand-laid track & ties.  It makes such a difference in additional detail for WHAT you are modeling.  Atlas code 100 would not look right.  That makes such a difference.

And I am so glad you have looped it so you can continuous-run.  Weeee!.....right?



"A good engineer needs to know three things:  Back up, Pull up, and Shut up.  If you are 'senior man' every time it's raining, fine....then get up there and do what you're told."

jdhogg69's picture


...these new pictures have brought out detail I never saw standing right there.  Cool.



"A good engineer needs to know three things:  Back up, Pull up, and Shut up.  If you are 'senior man' every time it's raining, fine....then get up there and do what you're told."

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