Mystic Mountain Railroad
The MMRR is a back country shortline loosely set in the early 1900’s - no diesels need apply - although the discerning eye may catch a few items from a later period. Some of the GRR convention cars are from a more recent time. The structures are a mix of kits, pre-fab, and scratch- built. Notice the workers repairing the water tower at Providence and the combination water and coal tower made from an old tender at North End. There are some custom-built structures as well:
- the roundhouse, turntable, station, and coal/water tower at North End yard,
- the ore processing plant (cast concrete) at Outaluck,
- the ACME Manufacturing (Acrylic),
- the wharf and Mercury Canning Co. (Acrylic, PVC, and recycled political signs) at North End,
- the Sawmill complex at Providence (Acrylic, metal, more recycled political signs.
I enjoy adding details and kit bashing commercial structures. Notice the workers repairing the water tower at Providence and the track crew completing a spur at Red River. The building "halves" at Union Junction are made from commercial kits.
The buildings are all lit for night time operation using C
hristmas tree lights - five 2.5 volt lights run on a 12 volt Malibu transformer works very nicely. For a t hree dollar 50-light string you can light 10 buildings. Some bridges are commercial and some I’ve built myself, notably the custom, curved lift bridges connecting to the mountain division at Union Junction. The four-turn double-track helix under Mystic mountain is a story – and a six-month construction project - in itself.
The Mystic Mountain Railroad was started in December 1999, 18 months after we bought this house. When we moved in, this yard was just flat, bare dirt. We spent from 12/98 to 12/99 planning, putting in electrical and plumbing lines, building the raised planters, labyrinth, walkways, lighting, waterfall, creek, and pond. It took nearly 100 yards of material to fill these - P.S. driving a Bobcat is fun! The wall consists of 1800 stacking blocks with 1:1 RR ties in the back. The labyrinth is 7,000 hand-laid pavers. Plants are mostly drip watered. We did everything, except the concrete and flagstone walkways, ourselves. It took about a year to build the yard and planters and another year to put in the main railroad with some plantings and structures. Since “completion”, plants and structures and six spurs were added. The train room was added in a kitchen remodel in the summer of 2001. In 2003-2004 the Mountain Division was created doubling the amount of track. The Mountain Division includes a complex four-turn helix to gain the needed elevation to create a scene with deep canyons and high bridges. Changes (improvements?) are constantly being added and ongoing maintenance keeps me pretty busy.
The MMRR has about 1200’ of Llagas Creek code 250 Nickel Silver track resting on crushed granite or “fines”. This makes it easy to re-level and re-grade the track as the ground settles (since I was unwilling to wait a few seasons for the new soil in the raised planters to settle before starting RR construction). The minimum radius is 5’ at the loop at Providence. Other loops have 6-7’ radius. Mainline grade is 2.5% or less (except for a 4-4.5% grade in the Mountain Division, a helper district; the grade up to the train room is about 4%. Three long passing sidings allow for same-direction passing or reverse-direction meets. An extra siding near Providence provides storage for 3 trains. The yard in the Mountain Division has dual passing sidings. A turntable allows turning engines for point-to-point operation with Providence. Many spurs provide opportunity for freight movement operations for various industries. The railroad can be configured as two independent loops or a single large loop. Trains can also be run point-to-point for operations using the wye near Providence and the turntable in the Mountain Division for turning engines. Trains can also be turned on the wye just over the bridges from Outaluck.
I operate battery-powered, radio controlled trains using Aritocraft Revolution and Train Engineer. I use dual Makita 9.6V Nicad batteries since they can be swapped quickly and recharged in 60-90 minutes. However, the track can be powered for guest trains. However, the track is also powered (fixed voltage) and trains use that whenever they hit a clean spot. Trains all have SoundTraxx sound systems. For long runs (like open houses), I clean the track. For shorter runs, the battery alone is good for 1.5 - 3 hours.Points of interest
The rock cliffs are cast in rubber and aluminum foil molds using resin, or white cement (I like white cement the best). The rocks are then painted with many washes of acrylic (artist) paints. Some have been in the sun over 6 years with little fading.
The waterfall and creek (as well as the pond) are lined with a thick rubber liner to prevent water loss. Alg
aegrowth is a constant problem. The water lilies and fish help, but the direct sunlight and warmth of the water favor the alg ae. A timer runs the small fountain in the pond in the morning and the evening for several hours which includes an ultraviolet sterilizer to reduce the alg aegrowth (or so it says in the books). The fish are 26 cent Goldfish. With the Raccoons and birds we get here, I can replace the fish as needed without going broke.
The track crew is finishing up installation of a spur at Red River Resort which will be used for freight to and from the resort. The mine at Outaluck is cast concrete. The most recent additions are the Acme manufacturing plant (“Everything for the wily coyote”), the wharf and Mercury Cannery at North End yard, and the sawmill complex at Providence. Future plans call for a logging camp at the spur across from Outaluck. I have sound effects in several of the buildings.
The two lift bridges allow me to get wheel barrows and other equipment behind the railroad should that be necessary. After seeing how much it was going to cost to have these 6' curved bridges built for me, I decided to get a welder and build my own. Cost about the same but I had more fun.
Unique problems solved
The nearly straight run along the back is about 100’ long. The expansion between cold winters and hot summer days is nearly 1”. I used a couple of Hillman expansion track sections to accomodate the expansion/contraction with temperature.
The black-tailed or mule deer up here are plentiful, voracious, and not much afraid of us. They were eating some of my RR plantings but also damaging bridges and track from standing on it and walking t
hrough the RR. I installed several "Scarecrow" motion-sensing sprinklers 6 years ago. When they sense motion they emit a 6 second blast of water. The sound scares the deer. This has kept the deer out of the yard (as long as I remember to replace the batteries once in a while).
Copyright © 2005, 2011 Mystic Mountain Railroad