Logging and Mining Operations


Anyone have Operating nights on their Logging or mining railroads? Just wondering if its possible to keep several guys happy running trains on a logging railroad. I say this because it would seem logging/mining they may not run on a schedule . More of an "as needed" system. I'm also wondering if I could have a "Convertible" layout. I model in On30 so I'm thinking of "Nesting" HO scale structures inside On30 structures. Then when the HO guys come over I just lift the On30 stuff off the layout and were ready to run in that "small" scale. Has this been done before?

I will have three levels in a 16'x17' room with a helix in an adjoining room.

Rob Teed


splitrock323's picture

I have a ore mining layout

I have a ore mining layout that keeps three to five operators busy. I also operate on a friends layout that has a entire logging operation. The Westside Logging company connected to his Sierra Railroad. Between the runs from the various logging camps, and the transfer of empties with loads you will keep everyone busy. Sounds like you have narrow gauge so that means steam? Model the servicing of the engines and tail end cars. I have seen what logging lines use for a caboose, but they still would need a little service. If you have multiple log camps, make it so only certain engines are allowed between those points, more interchange or power swaps at sidings between camps. If you have a interchange with an outside railroad for supplies, then someone can spot those boxcars or gondolas at the house track, warehouse, loading dock, I.e. logging equipment. Plus the cars that would haul out the finished wood products, wood chips and other things. You will need fuel cars and reefers full of meat for the camp houses to feed all those lumberjacks. Don't forget to protect the pay car with the monthly payroll.

Now I need to get back to my mining layout.

Thomas G

Modeling northern Minnesota iron ore line in HO.

Thanks Thomas

Thanks Thomas, That gives me a lot to think about. I just want to be sure that I can have operating sessions. I have been to a couple on mainline railroads and everone seems to have a great time.


Extras on the Missabe Road

I am just beginning to formulate operations on my iron ore hauling road, the Missabe Road (DM&IR) of northern Minnesota.  You are right, most everything runs or ran as extras. 

For my 1950’s model operations, I have an Access database with all of the mines entered, and a range of car quantities for each mine representing how many cars they can load in a day.  For instance, The Itasca-Dean mine may have a value of 4 minimum to 8 maximum.  A large plant like the Hull-Rust crusher may have 40 to 60 cars. 

When activated, a report generates a random number of cars for each mine somewhere between the mine’s minimum and maximum, and makes representations of orders for empty cars from each mine.  The reports are aggregated for each North End yard (referring to the main Missabe yards on the Iron Range north of Duluth), and for Proctor yard, the Missabe’s main yard.

I use the reports to drive the need for Ore Extras to run north from Proctor to one of Mitchell, Hibbing, Virginia, Biwabik or Fraser yards.  Typically, the Ore Extra brings a string of empties to, for instance, Virginia, and returns to Proctor with all of the loads available in Virginia that it can handle.

The “local mine runs” out of each of the above North End yards distribute the newly-arrived empties to the nearby mines, and collect all the loads, bringing them back to the North End yard to await the next Ore Extra.

The Proctor Hill Ore job takes loads to the docks in Duluth, and returns the empties to Proctor, also to await the next Ore Extra.

Interspersed between these extras are actual scheduled passenger and freight runs, which almost makes the operation feel upside down.  The scheduled trains get in the way of the real railroading.

So far I have only had enough operators handy to work with one North End location at a time, and we are still de-bugging. 

I have learned two lessons so far:  I don’t have enough ore cars, and the mine orders need fine tuning so as to not create a gross imbalance of cars either loaded or empty.

However, there seems to be plenty to do for the Proctor yard switch job, road crews (the Ore Extras and scheduled trains), and the mine runs.


- Milt
The Duluth MISSABE and Iron Range Railway in the 50's - 1:87

Logging & Mining

Thanks MItt.

Thats kind of what I was thinking. Passenger service would frowned upon by management and kind of a necessary evil. I have a lot to think about. Still in the planning stages but the rooms nearly ready. Might sand drywall tomorrow.


I designed staging tracks

I designed staging tracks into my old layout which allowed loaded log and tanbark cars to be returned to the hills and empties to be moved back down the hill without using the main logging lines. This allowed for more prototypical operations, but kept the Mole busy shifting cars behind the scenes.  A small 8 x 12 L could keep three operators very busy for many hours.  With the hidden return tracks, there was continuous operation with empties moving up the hill and loaded trains moving down.  Interesting operations, but even with the addition of the transfers to and movement on the mainline, things could get very repetitious.  So I took another look at the Little River Lumber (TN) and several new England Logging roads on which I had loosely based my layout.

The first operational additions included movements of coal and supplies up to the logging camps, and now we had freight and coal cars added to the mix.  We also needed to move the logging crews and management up and down the mountain, so a few flat cars were converted to carry workers, and a small rail-bus and several rail-cars were added to the fleet.  I added some setout housing to the mix, so that session to session operators would find that the logging operations had moved to another location. 

In the 1910' and 1920' the Little River ran a thriving excursion and tourist operation into what is now part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. They expanded logging hotels to support the visitors and built excursion cars  to tote visitors up to the higher elevations. Now they needed better trains for the tourists, so they added passenger service from Knoxville - via Knoxville and Augusta RR a Southern subsidiary - through Maryville, Walland all the way to what is now the Elkmont Campground.  So of course I had to add passenger operations to the mix. These trains could get fairly long with eight to ten cars on a peek summer weekend.  And the logging crews did not mind earning a little overtime hauling excursion cars up to the mountain tops on lazy hot summer afternoons.  But boy did those log haulers complain about the City Slickers hogging the track during the week.

OK, No more repetitious operations, but now many operations in a crowded basement with up to eight or nine operators.  But that's what it is all about. 

Re: http://www.littleriverrailroad.org/photos.htm

Happy Logging,



Ken K

MDC Oveton shorty passenger cars based on a prototype!

The MDC Overton cars are actually scale sized based on a Sierra Railroad prototype.  When the Sierra built a branch line from Sonora to Angels Camp, it only had to go less than 30 miles, and both towns were at the same elevation.  Unfortunately there is a canyon about 3000 feet deep between the two towns that was too wide to bridge.  The solution was to build the right of way down into the canyon and up the other side, but is required numerous switch backs to get down and back up again.  The curves were so tight that the passenger cars the Sierra used could only be @ 30 feet long or so.  Additionally the grades were so steep that passenger power was a Shay.  Rod engines could not handle the steep grades.

An interesting anecdote I heard during the tour of the Sierra Shops in Jamestown was that when they set charges to blow off the side of the mountain to create a place to put the right of way, the railroad did not get any work done the next day.  The workers would go to the job site the next morning and spend the day filling their pockets with gold uncovered by the blast!

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