Nelson & Fort Sheppard Brian Stokes

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The N&FS is a double deck layout representing two distinct prototypes in southern British Columbia. This is the second layout I have built based on this area and is part of a genesis towards higher prototype fidelity in design and operations. The layout is set in September and October of 1953 and is centered around the town of Nelson, BC which is a division point on Canadian Pacific's southern mainline. Nelson is also the northern terminus of the Great Northern's Nelson & Fort Sheppard line from Kettle Falls, WA.

The upper deck with approximately 130' of mainline features the N&FS from the US/Canada border to Troup Junction on the lower level where it connects to the CP mainline east of Nelson. Operations on the upper deck follow that of the sleepy branch line with one train a day servicing the many lumber industries and other shippers in the small towns along the way. Much of the turn-of-the-century right of way is twisting, with many wooden trestles, and grades up to 2.5% on the hill down to Troup Jct.

The lower deck encompasses the CPR southern mainline from Troup through Nelson and on to Castlegar where the line to the large smelter operation at Trail BC diverges from the mainline. Also included is the branch line from South Slocan to Slocan City and across the lake barge transfer (which lasted until 1988 on the prototype) to Rosebery and the Nakusp Sub. The modelled portion of the CPR mainline will represent approximately 15 miles from Nelson to just west of South Slocan in about 100 feet of actual mainline. A double-ended, six track staging yard represents Cranbrook to the east and Castlegar, Midway, Trail, and other points west.

With limited space for a mainline run, I designed the N&FS to capitalize on switching and prototypical operations. The upper level branchline has a 25mph speed restriction (at the best of times) and many switching locations. This is coupled with a reversing move at Troup Junction to turn the train to get to Nelson. Trains often have to double the hill out of Nelson on the return trip as well which adds to the length of run. All of this means it takes at least 90 to 120 real-time minutes to make the return trip. On the lower level, the focus is on Nelson yard where every train coming through requires classification and there are two dozen rail customers in town. The mainline runs are short and serve mainly to feed trains into Nelson, although there is a little bit of work west of Nelson for crews. The Slocan Branch on the lower level also adds a daily turn. In total the layout can support 5 to 7 operators at once.


This is an overall view of Nelson looking westbound. Above is the N&FS grade up the hill behind town going south towards the border. Every location on the layout except one is a faithful compression of the prototype with correct orientation of track, buildings, and landforms. The exception - at Fruitvale on the upper deck - has had more industry added and surrounding spurs pulled into town to increase operational interest in a limited space.


This is my first crack at scenery on the new layout. This scene replicates the Anderson Creek/Elwyn Road crossing of the N&FS on the hill above Nelson. One of the prototype photos I worked from can be scene below in the wooden frame. I am making use of extensive research and surveying of the route as is still stands in order to capture the flavour of the area and replicate scenes as accurately as possible.

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