Sunday, December 28, 2014

Spokane International Railway Portable N Scale Layout

Welcome to the Spokane International Railway: A portable N scale railroad built by contributing author, Mike Pagano and other hobbyist in the N scale community. This Layout was featured in the July/Aug 2007 issue of N Scale Railroading magazine and the December 2013 issue of Model Railroader magazine. Later issues in NSR followed up with other detailed articles that illustrated unique techniques for building light weight and resilient methods that withstand the stress of being portable. The model is built using unique aluminum benchwork construction methods as seen on The Clinchfield Railroad in N Scale, designed by the late Gordon Odegard for Model Railroader back in 1978. This layout is based on the Spokane International Railway and other connecting railroads operating in the year 1959 and located in the panhandle area of Idaho. Other road names like the Great Northern and Northern Pacific are also represented on the layout. Besides being portable, the display also features prototype signature elements in the area of Sandpoint, Idaho. This track plan design contains two independent loops, representing the SIRy and the NP railroads that interchanged at Sandpoint. The GN also connected into the interchange yard from the east side of Sandpoint. The layout also features a four track staging yard that represents Grand Junction, Washington with connections to Spokane. The layout uses digital command control for train control and switch machine operation. This layout is exhibited in the Pacific Northwest to promote the hobby of model railroading.

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Real Spokane International Railway

The Spokane International Railway was a small Class I Railroad built in 1905 by D.C. Corbin. The railroad operated a 140-mile rail line from Spokane, Washington to Eastport, Idaho with a branch line connecting to the town of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. This railroad existed independently from 1906 to 1958 until Union Pacific purchased the line and ran the railroad as an independent subsidiary to the organization. The S.I.Ry primarily moved interchange traffic from the Canadian border to the Pacific Northwest as a way to compete with James Hill's  GN-NP railroads that dominated the region. At Spokane, the S.I.Ry connected with the Union Pacific, Great Northern, Northern Pacific, and the Milwaukee Road.

The dispatcher's office was  in the downtown Spokane Railroad Station area but the yard office, loco shops and roundhouse was located on Greene Street, located two miles from downtown Spokane.  Continuing east, the railroad entered the Millwood-Trentwood Industrial area.  The SI served two major customers at a long siding along the Spokane River. The Inland Empire Paper Company located on one end of the spur line and the Perfect Cement Plant located at the other end of Irvin spur.
The main line continued east and crossed the Spokane River.  The Kaiser Aluminum Plant and a Naval Supply Depot at Trentwood-Velox were a few other customers that the railroad served in the Spokane Valley Area.
Leaving the industrial suburb, the main line headed for the Washington-Idaho state line. Traveling along the Spokane Valley, the S.I.Ry reached Grand Junction, Idaho.  Here the SI interchanged with the Milwaukee Road at this location. The SI transported MILW hoppers loaded with phosphate rock up to the Canadian border along with other commodities. Three miles east was Coeur d'Alene Junction.  This was a nine mile branchline that ran south to serve lumber related industries in Coeur d' Alene area.

 The line continues up the valley ducking under the NP main line at Athol and soon traveled along the Pend Oreille River (pronounced "pon-der-aya") which paralleled the Great Northern line through Dover. Both lines headed toward to the town of Sandpoint, Idaho.
The railroad served a lumber mill along with coal, oil, feed and seed silos in Sandpoint.  An interchange yard connected the GN and NP with the SI at a small interchange yard on the north side of town. The SI continued northeast out of Sandpoint and up the forested valley and meadows which serviced short spur tracks to load log flats at Naples and Forest Siding.  Just north, the town of Bonners Ferry located along the edge of the Kootenai River is where the railroad serviced a sawmill, grain elevator and oil- coal wholesalers. Another interchange track was located here that connected to the Great Northern Railway before heading east.

The railroad crossed the Kootenai River to leave town and headed north to climb up Moyie River Canyon and ending at Eastport, Idaho- Kingsgate, BC where all traffic was interchanged with the Canadian Pacific.

View the Spokane International RS-1 Freight