Doodlebugs, Railbuses and Mixed Trains

What fun it would have been to ride in the Ma&Pa’s gas-electrics. Take the York or Baltimore Daily Mail. Or ride on the SR&RL from Farmington to Strong in one of the railbuses. Yes, riding in one of the Rio Grande Southern’s Geese would have been fun, but best of all taking the mixed train to Santa Fe on the Chili line. Course a winter trip on a SR&RL mixed from Farmington to Strong Maine would have been a nice ride as well. Riding in the EBT’s M-1 is an experience, and if you get a chance do yourself the favor and take the ride. My next stop is Strasburg Railroad’s Lancaster, Oxford, and Southern’s railcar (the standard gauge version that is)


Well, they make a lot of racket, and I am sure riding one everyday would not be nearly as special as taking that once a year trip. However, they made a lot of sense in the steam era. Certainly cuts down on the train crew. Doesn’t do much for the switching interest, just those station stops along the line. Not many narrow gauge railroads in the United States had doodlebugs, just the EBT and LO&S.


The Rio Grande Southern’s Geese are for me, some of the most interesting railbuses. Especially in their later life with a Wayne bus body on them! Imagine riding that school bus!

The SR&RL’s railbuses have always fascinated me, probably due to their size in comparison to standard gauge equipment..or for the matter two foot passenger cars. Can not imagine riding in one of those on a hot and humid summer day. They do make interesting conversation for our model railroad though. More about that later.

Mixed Trains

The Mixed Train, now that is the way for me to go. Stops at every station, and even switches at some as well! My favorite type of train to model, the modest mixed train. One does not  need  to model a hundred freight cars and  dozen passenger cars. Boxcar or two, maybe a hi side gon, or coal hopper,  flat or two with a load, and a combine or RPO and coach. Like the train in the photo below, somewhere in Central or South America (not sure where or taken by whom, a friend sent it to me some time ago). Bet it will be an interesting ride since the train appears to be backing out of the station. Wonder what the next stop will be and the scenery along the way?

A daily mixed train became the first item on my list of musts for the CRG&S. I have always liked the Rio Grande’s Chili Line mixed, so modeling a western narrow gauge would have to include something very similar.  In the Fall of 1928 (the era I’ve chosen to model) Copper City’s  mills are still working as are the CRG&S’s interchange partners. Passenger business, while still breathing, does not require a separate train at this time. The mail can go with the train as well, so an RPO and coach will be the rear end of train 21/22 every day except Sunday. The daily mixed should end up have a least two freight cars per day if not several more on busier days. So, Copper City will be served by a “Mixed Train Daily except Sundays”. Motive power should be the next thing to ponder, so next time  let’s see what type of steam engines the CRG&S uses on their Copper City branch line.

To Copper City on the Mixed with a little chili along the way


Where is Copper City? Chili along the way, we go through Santa Fe? Nope, but the Colorado, Rio Grande and Southern’s Copper City branch goes to Copper City and it passes through some interesting scenes along the way. The CRG&S is my second attempt at MR imagineering (read about my first under Model Railroad Imagineerings: The beginning). The CRG&S has been a big task with an interesting list of “Must haves, would likes, and well if it fits it would be icing on the cake” .

DRG&W’s Chili Line has always interested me, as has the Rio Grande Southern and Otto Mears Silverton Roads. Of course, the Colorado and Southern’s narrow gauge lines can not be left out either. Last, but certainly not least is the Gilpin Tram.

The CRG&S’s Copper City branch represents the town of Copper City, a small town situated in a valley packed full of narrow gauge railroads switch mills, yards, and other mining associated industries. Decided to move my time period to post WWII! Why? Well a chance to have the RGS post wreck #455, leased due to power needs, running alongside the K-28s of the CRG&S.

Bet it also includes a water tank and a K-27!

Photo: Favorite of mine from the RGS in Ridgeway. A Robert Richardson photo I believe