A Station for Copper City

Finding a station for Copper City was an interesting process. I have several different Colorado stations that I like. The Rio Grande Southern’s Ophir and Rico stations have always interested me. However, either one of these stations is not a good fit for Copper City and the fictional Colorado and Rio Grande Southern. They have shown up in so many pictures that anyone coming to visit or operate the Copper City railroad will think of the Rio Grande Southern, not my C&RGS.

Fortunately, my favorite Colorado narrow gauge station is the Colorado and Southern’s Leadville depot. Have always liked the brick broken up with a string of stone, slate roof and the small second floor dormers. It is a station that looks like it could have been at home on any railroad, either standard or narrow gauge. Currently, the station serves the Leadville, Colorado and Southern Railroad, a scenic standard gauge railroad. The station was built sometime in the early 1890s by the Denver, South Park, and Pacific Railroad. If you want to learn more about the station or see plans, find a copy of the May 1989 Model Railroader magazine which contains plans for the station as well as several photos.

C&S Passenger Train at the Leadville Depot
from the Denver Public Library Digital Collection

Copper City is a town (it was never really big enough to be what one would consider a city) that has a very prosperous past with both gold and silver mining during the 1880’s and early 1890’s. Gold mining remained steady and continued until the United States entered the Great War in 1917. Mining picked up somewhat in the 1920’s but never really returned to the late 1880’s-early 1890s pace when the Copper City station was built to replace the original wooden station that burned. The new brick station spoke of Copper City’s importance to the citizens and the mining activity in the area. By the September of 1939, the time I am modeling, Copper City is serviced by a mixed train and freight extras. The passenger car at the end of the train carries a few passengers, never enough to fill the car. Certainly not the volume of passengers the station once saw.  The station is not as grand or as clean as it was in its glory years. It is now 46 years old in the period I am modeling. It has seen its fair share of cinders, snow storms, and broken slate  shingles over the years.

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to acquire an O scale scratchbuilt Leadville station from George Sebastian-Coleman. George had built the station as part of a Model Railroad video series on working with styrene. I was very happy that to acquire the station from George. Since its arrival in May, my limited modeling time has been devoted to working on a track plan that has the station as its focal point.

The model Leadville station on George’s new C&S layout
photo by George Sebastian-Coleman


Another view of the model station on George’s new layout
Photo by George Sebastian-Coleman



Keep it simple Copper City on the C&RGS

The C&RGS? Yes the very fictional Colorado and Rio Grande Southern RR located southwestern Colorado, New Mexico, and part of Arizona. A railroad that has an interesting traffic base of livestock traffic, hard rock mining, agriculture, and serving the communities it runs through. I do not have a plan of the railroad laid out on a map of the United States though. My interest is the railroad’s branch into the San Juan area of Colorado. The branch originates in the very fictional town of Navajo Springs and travels roughly north-northeast about 100 miles over several mountain ranges to the terminal at Copper City. I am not planning on modeling all of the yard, roundhouse or mining area of Copper City, it will take up too much room. So what am I modeling, the station area, and only the station area at this time.

I have yet to finish a model railroad in the last several attempts, they were just too big in scope and amount of time to build. Copper City is going to be my first ever attempt at On3. Why On3, well not because I have a ton of On3 equipment. However I do have the central item to my railroad, a station, plenty of ties, rail, spikes and an engine or two. Passenger cars are indeed missing at this time. Fear not, part of the fun of building “Copper City Station” is to build the passenger cars I want. To learn about how passenger cars were built in the early 20th century and stayed in use until the 1940s and 1950s!

Why the change yet again? Excellent question. While working on my 12″=1ft outdoor projects this summer, found time to read some blogs about model railroading late in the evening. Helped keep my mind off of scratching my poison ivy! Mike Cougill’s blog has been a very thought-provoking series of posts. Highly recommend reading his posts.Trevor Marshall’s journey of building the CN’s Port Rowan branch in S scale has been a great glimpse into a simple model to operate as well as build. More recently, through a link in Trevor’s blog, had a chance to read Lance Mindheim’s blog. Lance’s September 30th post, “How to play with trains” was very interesting and finally got me started on designing a small, functioning model railroad that is the C&RGS’s Copper City passenger station and freight house.

I sat down and worked on  an operating session based on the time that I had to actually operate a model railroad. Have always like the D&RGW’s Chili line mixed and envisioned a similar mixed train on my Copper City branch line. Why it would be nice to leave from Navajo Springs, climb over two mountain ranges, cross numerous trestles, and go through a loop to gain elevation, there is not the space or the time to build such a layout. What I have time for though is to have the mixed arrive at Copper City station, uncouple the engine and freight cars (if any) and place the freight cars into a fiddle yard. If there is a car or two for the fright house or team track to switch them. It takes time to switch cars! The next operating session will be the opposite. Switching the order of the RPO/ baggage and coach, then backing the engine and freight cars (once again if any) to the station, coupling up and waiting for departure time (and pumping up air) then departing. Does not sound like much, but based on the time I have right now for model railroading, it is probably all the time I have. My Sn3 version of the Copper City branch will have to wait until the children are older, my basement and its model railroad room are complete, and more time is available for modeling.