My first route - the Castle Peak & Pacific

Just finished my first pass at designing a herald for the Castle Peak & Pacific. I think there are a few changes I'd like to make to it, but overall, I'm relatively satisfied with my amateurish attempt at photoshopping the image together.

Real life has kept me from working on the route, but I did get to do something with trains this week. My mom works at the local library, and she asked me to put out some of my model trains for a display. I agreed, and we got it set up during a power outage yesterday. I took her some late lunch today, and while I was there I snapped a few pictures of the display with my phone, and figured I'd share them with you guys to make up for the lack of work done on the CP&P.

This is the top and middle shelves of the display. Most of the stuff on display is from a box of miscellaneous train stuff that I got from a friend several years ago. His uncle was no longer playing with trains, so he had boxed all of the stuff up and left it behind. My friend knew that I liked trains, so he offered to give his uncle's old stuff to me and I happily agreed to take it off his hands. The On30 Christmas trains was acquired earlier this year at a nearby train show, and my intention is to repair it and then use 3D printed parts to kitbash it into an 1880s or 1890s Cooke locomotive.

This next shot shows the bottom shelf on the display. The plastic Model-T vans were a fun discovery when I first unboxed the stuff I got from my friend. The green steam loco on the right of the shelf is an older model that I acquired at the train show for $30. Even better, when I got home and opened it up, I found out that it still had the factory-applied plastic wrapping on the foam insert - the old girl was still new-in-box! Sadly, as I don't have any room for a physical layout in my current home, I haven't had a chance to clean her up and get her running, but maybe someday.
Work on Gothic has started, and this was the first stage. I laid out a base texture to begin, then laid out the roads for the town. Over time, I will also be replacing some of the textures I originally used on the route with new ones that support seasonal changes.

While the URR&N depot (from Trainz-Forge) is a great structure, the platform tends to get really crowded at full capacity, so it doesn't leave much room for extra details. Still, I've managed to fit in a porter and a pair of boarding steps on one end of the platform to give the scene an extra little touch for the moment.

One of the things I like to do, mostly because I get a little bit OCD at times over small details, is to physically connect the telegraph lines on my route to their destination points. Case in point, you can see here how I've run the telegraph lines from the final pole into the telegraph office and the depot. The process required you to place a pole inside of each building, and then use the adjust height tool to ower the pole inside of the structure until you're happy with how the wires enter the building's wall or roof.

Stage 2 of the work in this area focused on building up the town, which you can see here. Minor details such as wagons and figures have yet to be added, and that will wait a while. Textruing, trees, and ground cover still need to be done before details can be added to this section of the route.

Step 3 in my current workflow process is texturing. I first start with a base texture that is laid out over the area I need it to cover, giving a general idea of what kind of terrain I'm creating (i.e., grassy, rocky, dirt, etc.). The next step is refining the texture work by adding lighter and darker shades to create a more varied and natural appearance. The variation doesn't have to be too precise, at least in the largely grassy area here, as it wil be mostly covered by a layer of grass, bushes, and trees - the goal is to get something that will show through the gaps to create a natural looking blend of colors.

This shot gives you a good look at some of the texture work I've accomplished so far, including the start of the layers over the base texture. I also added a small lake to this area, partly as a way to add a bit of unique flavor to what might have otherwise been a large plain of grass and bushes. The little lake was inspired by an old picture of spring runoff forming a little lake inside of Tanglefoot Curve on the Cumbres & Toltec.
Thanks! I like the little bit of extra realism that the telegraph trick adds.

One of my pet peeves on the route currently is that the telegraph lines don't have enough stretch to cross most of the canyons, so currently they stop at either end with nothing inbetween. I'd like to see if I can find a way to add lines across the canyons but currently I'm not aware of how I might be able to do it.
Hmmmm. About the only way I can think of would be to find some sort of plain wire or cable spline you could stretch between the posts on either side. But I haven't tried it, so I can't make any suggestions. If the nodes would not connect at the ends you might have to just do a shift-click, so they are physically together but not technically connected. Then getting the right amount of sag might be a challenge. I do admire your creativity!
So, it's been a long time since I posted anything here. Sadly, I got really burned out shortly after my last post, but have recently gotten back into the swing of things. Work is much slower now, but I'm trying to get a little bit done every now and then to continue making progress. My current plan is to work on finishing the section between Gothic and Thunder Valley to a high standard, then move on to doing the same from Thunder Valley to Crystal Falls, etc. After getting the CP&P mainline from Gothic to Castle Peak finished to the high standard I want to achieve, I'll start working on the Elk Mountain line. Once the EMC&T line is finished to the same standard, I'll finally begin working on the section from Gothic to Junction.

That said, here are a few of the latest screenshots of my progress on the route.

Here, we see the first part of the progress - the addition of an aspen forest in what was previously a barren field. This was an important aspect of the build, as it helps to fill in an area that might otherwise look very empty and add some more flavor, as well as creating a kind of transitionary space between Gothic and Thunder Valley.

This next image was taken from inside the forest at a later date, showing the rocks and deadfall that were later added to help flesh out the forest and make it feel more like a real place.

I do occasionally come back to the Elk Mountain Sawmill to add a little bit here and there when I need a break from the CP&P mainline or just can't think of what to add to the latter at the time. Here, I chose to hide the sloping water (caused by the way the water connects the two different levels on either side of the dam) with some rockwork and a steam effect. I think it looks rather nice overall, and gives a nice effect.

Next, you get to see the addition of some trees - Rock Maples, I think - to the shoreline of the Crystal River inside the canyon that separates Muley Gap and Bendaire. I don't know how much detail I'll add in terms of deadfall and ground cover in that area, as it is kind of far from the tracks and might not get seen very much unless I include a drivable steamboat in the layout, which I may or may not choose to attemt in future - doing so would require more time investment to add a properly detailed place for the steamboat to travel to, and would also require that I (or someone far more skilled than I) would have to take the steamboat model I'm using and create a drivable version of it.

This shot shows the addition of more trees on the riverbank opposite of Spencer's Landing. The Rock Maple(?) trees are supposed to be standing in for Rocky Mountain Maple trees, as the only specific models for that tree species are billboard models (IIRC, by Colorado71). I personally prefer the look of Speedtrees, and want to use them exclusively if I can. Sadly, these new trees don't appear to be seasonal, though I'm struggling a bit with getting seasons to work so far anyways.

And again, more maple trees - this time I added a few on one end of the lower trestle at Twin Bridge Crossing.

Something similar but different - foliage added to the area around the yard and depot tracks at Thunder Valley. Mostly bushes, rocks, and grass.
Once again, we see a bit of work done at the sawmill - specifically, the addition of some pine trees on the hillside along with rocks and stumps left behind when the sawmill cut down the nearby trees for easy lumber and to clear a path for the tracks.

And again, this time with a slightly closer look at the deadfall. The pines on the hill are supposed to be new growth that the sawmill hasn't bothered to cut down, hence their smaller size. I didn't add grass at the time, but probably should when I next get around to it.
Great to see these updates! Sometimes we all have to step back to recover from burnout. I have more than one route sitting here because I just lack the patience at the present to forge ahead with them. I thought when I retired I would have so much more time, but it just seems I have so much more to do! I really like the detail you are putting into this route!
@Forester, thanks! My dad felt the same way when he retired, as it seems like he's busier than ever nowadays! I'm glad you enjoy the details, I like putting them in - my hope is to create a very detailed route with lots of little details to find, inspired by the intensely detailed scenes of model railroad builders that have inspired me.

@John, the route is not currently available for download, but it is my fervent hope that once I get it to a stage of completion that I am happy with, I will be able to release it on the DLS for others to download and enjoy it. For now, you'll just have to make do with WiP screenshots! :)
Okay, back again with more content! Keep in mind, the screenies I'm showing here (save for one) are about a week old, as I'm currently playing catch up in regard to getting my Work-in-Progress photos up to date. I'm drawing it out a bit by posting a group of images every 1-2 days apart.

This is a quick look at the new ash pit I added to the engine facility at Thunder Valley. Yes, I am aware that the rails on the ash pit are not the right gauge - that is because I am using the V&T Cattle Guard asset by Pencil42, and that RR is Standard gauge. I will need to adjust the asset so that the rails are the appropriate 36" narrow gauge before release, but for now it is acting as a placeholder so that I can get back to work on other things. I did add a fun little scene on the right, where a trio of workmen are shoveling ash out of the pit and into a nearby wagon for disposal.

This shot shows off some of the foliage and rockwork that has been added to Thunder Valley's industrial side of town. You can also see the new wagon road that I've added! I wanted to add some evidence of the towns being present before the railroad's arrival - it wouldn't have been built without someplace to go, after all - and I remember reading about the old toll roads that predated and often coexisted with the railroads. So, I decided to create a wagon road that would predate the railroad's arrival as a way of paying homage to those old, often overlooked roads, as well as to add some special flavor to the layout. The road runs from Thunder Valley to Gothic and Junction - I didn't have room for a road running to the towns upgrade of Thunder Valley, so I'm kind of working on the assumption that the CP&P might have purchased that part of the toll road to use for their right-of-way. Still, I may be able to add roads leading to the towns of Castle Peak, Bendaire, and Muley Gap, depending on how things work out - at that point, the only town without a wagon road would be Crystal Falls, where the only viable path would be the one now occupied by the railroad.

This shot gives you a good look at the bridge over the CP&P's cut at Aspen Ridge, allowing the toll road to cross the tracks on its way to Gothic and Junction. I still need to do a bit of work on the bridge abutments and all, but for now it looks pretty good!

This shot gives us a nice view of the toll road on the right as it drops down off of Aspen Ridge and into the town of Gothic, along with another look at the progress being made on the Aspen forest's detail work. The wagon bridge that crosses over the tracks to reach Gothic (just barely visible through the trees) has now been replaced with a vastly better one, but that happened about a week after this picture was taken.

This is a shot taken roughly a week after the toll road was originally added to the layout, showing the wagon bridge that crosses over the CP&P's Junction-to-Gothic section of mainline. Eagle-eyed viewers might also notice that I've added some new groundcover to the area immediately around the track here since the last image was taken.

Going back to the older images of the toll road, here we get a ground-level shot of Aspen Ridge Junction. I believe that eventually, I'll add a toll booth and a rest stop here, since it seems like I might have just enough room for just such a small facility here. In future, the toll road will have a number of toll booths every so often along its path, as was the norm for the wagon roads of Colorado in the 1880s. Moving past that, the road on the left of the image descends off the ridge to reach the town of Gothic, while the road on the right leads up the mountains headed for Junction, which is located in the valley on the other side.
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(Continuation of the previous post)

In order to reach a passable point through the mountains, the toll road headed for Junction has to traverse a steep set of switchbacks. I'm well aware that these switchbacks are probably way too steep to be properly negotiated, but I really didn't have much space to work with, and the leveling tool takes up a large space around the roadway that precludes the use of more switchbacks on a shallower grade. If I upgrade to TRS2022 and get a Trainz+ subscription, I may try redoing this section with a more reasonable gradient with the new terrain system, since that would hopefully allow for less room being taken up by the individual roads when the terrain is levelled. I'm just not too keen on needing to pay a subscription for new features that may only be permanently added to the Trainz software in a future version - it would really help if the Trainz devs would be specific about when things like Surveyor 2.0 and the new terrain grid will release to the public version of Trainz 2022, but so far they have chosen to keep these truly unique and useful tools limited to those who are willing to pay a subscription... sigh.

While building the toll road, I realized that getting it up and over the top of the mountains here would be a bit unfeasible. As a result, I decided to dig a tunnel just under the peak, since a cut seemed like it would be too deep to realistically work - I could just envision a deep cut filling in with an immovable pile of snow, kind of like it did in the old film Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (does anyone even remember that film?). So, I chose to reason that the road builders brought the road up as high as possible, and then dug a tunnel at the narrowest point so as to create the least amount of heavy work. I'm actually quite proud of this tunnel, because it took some work to make it. There wasn't any readily available tunnel asset that wuld fit what I needed, so I had to improvise. I used a tunnel asset by, IIRC, Pencil42, and then added a dighole on either side. To cover the dighole, I added a tunnel face asset, and a wooden tunnel portal. However, the tunnel itself was a railroad tunnel, so I had to add a dirt road spline inside the tunnel, raised just enough to cover the rails from sight, in order to complete the job. I haven't actually tested it to see if a stagecoach will fit through it, but smaller freight agons should have little issue.

This is the opposite side of the toll road tunnel, and the beginning of the road's descent into the valley where the town of Junction sits. I was able to give the road a much more reasonable gradient here than I was on the other side of the mountains due to having fewer space restrictions. Regarding the telegraph line, I'm honestly not entirely sure how the real guys would have laid it - it's possible that they might have strung the wires through the tunnel along the sides or ceiling, but in order to keep the continuity of the cable, I chose to run it over a saddle in the mountain ridgeline instead. I was also going to have the line just go straight up and down the mountainside as well but chose to run it alongside the road since that seemed more maintenance and construction friendly once I thought about it.

This shot, other than showing the starkly unfinished state of the valley, also shows the road and telegraph lines as they finish coming down off the mountainside and enter the valley proper.

The names for the unfinished section here in the valley around Junction are going to be a future problem to solve - so for now, this is just the Junction Valley River. You can get a good look in this shot of the two bridges crossing the river - the CP&P mainline crosses using a wooden through-truss bridge on the left, and the toll road currently crosses using a simple wooden bridge on the right. I may elect to change the toll road bridge later, but for now the current bridge will suffice. At the bottom of the image, the RR tracks and the road diverge, as there is a hill that separates them as they head into the town of Junction.

This final (for now) shot of the toll road network shows how it comes around the hill and crosses over the tracks of the CP&P. The area between the tracks and the camera will eventually be the location of the town of Junction and the farm fields that serve as the town's main source of income. For now, they will remain a barren field of unfinished content while I work on finishing other portions of the route. My personal goal is to have the rest of the route fully scenicked and detailed before I start work on this section so that I can have some nice scenery to run trains through when the mood strikes me.
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More archival footage of the CP&P is here!

Still playing catch up regarding screenshots of progress on the route. This shot gives us a look at the ground cover that has been added to the town of Gothic - dry grass, sagebrush, etc. The building to the left of the turntable is supposed to be a small bunkhouse for local RR workers, and future work will expand on that. You can also just make out part of one of the boardwalks that has been added to the town in the lower right corner of the image.

This shot, looking the other direction from the previous, shows some more ground cover additions to the town. You can also make out the freight house in the center and the oil refinery building on the right (hopefully to be replaced with a better setup in future).

This open area behind the buildings on main street is a good place for some grass and brush to help add some life to the town. I've also added a number of outhouses to the town - the two greyish-white ones on the right belong to the hotel, while the other two belong to private residences/businesses. In the background, the 3-story yellow building is the dynamite factory, and the three stone sheds to the left of it are dynamite shacks where the product is stored for (hopeful) safekeeping prior to shipment.

Here we see the main street scene of Gothic. The hotel is on the left, with the telegraph office and depot on the right. Several private residences line the street past the hotel, with a saloon, post office, town hall, land office, etc. beyond the depot on the right side of the street. You can see the top of the dynamite factory over the log house next to the hotel, and the dark brown building beyond the end of the street is the local brewery.

The lime kiln in Gothic did get a bit of adjustment. The kilns were move down the track slightly to make room for a slightly elongated siding, the warehouse and loading dock were repositioned and a loading door was added to the warehouse, and a storage shed was added to provide some shelter for the coal and limestone being delivered to the kilns.

Finally, we're starting to get into the more recent photos in the archive. This view of Tanglefoot Curve shows the new additions - a barbed-wire fence and gate provide a place for the locals to graze some cows and horses - there's also a trusty cowboy and his two cow dogs to watch over the small herd. Now that I thnk about it, I may need to fence off the pond from the pasture to keep the animals from contaminating it, as it also serves as the source of Gothic's water supply...
I decided that I wanted to replace the road bridge over the river outside of Junction - the railroad bridge didn't have any supports in the river, and I wanted to do something similar with the wagon bridge. I also wanted to use something a bit more unique as well, which led to my choice of using the one shown here - a set of log beams with boards on top and a set of A-frame braces. I thnk it looks really nice, and it adds an extra touch of unique flavor that I feel the original bridge was lacking.

This shot is taken from the far end of Gothic's main street. I added some details to the street scene here, including a grocery wagon in front of the gerneral store, hitching posts and horses, etc. I do need to go back and add some new spline points in the telegraph line so that the poles aren't in the middle of the street. Other details have been added since this picture was taken, but the overall layout of everything is still the same.

This shot was taken from the other end of the town's main street. On the right, a new hitching post and feed trough are shared by several houses and a local store, while on the left is the land office and the saloon just past it. Off in the distance is the depot, and behind it is a stagecoach waiting to pick up or drop off passengers and mail.

Here, we get a better look at the stagecoach waiting behind the depot, as well as the hitching post in front of the local hotel and, just beyond the depot, the one for the saloon. If you look closely at the houses on the left of the street, you can also make out Lady Nancy scolding her husband, Old Joe, for lounging around on his rocker all day when she thinks he should be doing something more productive.

The local hardware shop occassionally gets a shipment of goods - either by wagon or rail - and it uses this wagon and horse team to bring the goods to back of the shop. I'm not entirely sure if this will actually remain a hardware shop, and I may one day replace the main building with a slightly larger one, but the wagon area and shed in the back will remain. Eventually, I may add more details to the scene - crates and barrels, maybe some lumber, and people working to load/unload the wagon, that kind of thing.

I've chosen to replace the previous telegraph offices along the line - with the exception of the larger office in Thunder Valley - with a new model from Trainz-Forge. Those with a familiarity for the game RAILROADS Online will likely recognize it as the same model used in that game. Here, I'm using a verion in D&RGW Green & Buff colors with a renamable sign.

This is the updated version of the railroad facility in Gothic. A fence and 'no trespassing' now separate the turntable and railroad structures from the rest of the town, providing a modicum of protection against nosy locals and errant youngsters. The facility includes a small bunkhouse for local workmen, a shed for storing tools and spare parts, and a private outhouse.
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Here we have a closer look at the structures in the railroad facility. The building on the left is the tool and parts shed, the one to the right of it is the bunkhouse, and behind and to the right of the bunkhouse is the outhouse. Also present are the foreman on the bunkhouse porch, one of the workers in front of the toolshed, and sitting among the barrels to the left of the shed is the local crew's pet cat, Silver.

This is the stage depot at Aspen Ridge, located at the junction where the wagon roads from Gothic and Junction meet up. The building in the foreground is meant to be a toll booth - I'm currently using the new telegraph office from Trainz-Forge to stand in until I can find a more appropriate structure to use. On the left of the roads is a small stable where horses can rest overnight, and just beyond it is a small open-air blacksmith shop that can repair wagons and shoe horses when needed. On the right is a small bunkhouse and a pair of outhouses - one each for men and women. Wagons are parked in the open when staying overnight.

For quite a while now, I've wanted to improve the trestles at Twin Bridge Crossing. The wooden trestle that forms the lower half was relatively easy to do and turned out looking great. The iron bridge on the upper half was trickier, though. Inspired by the famous iron/steel bridge on the Georgetown Loop RR, I wanted to move the trestle bents so that they were on the shoreline (and not in the water), and to replace the center deck-girder section over the lower trestle with a deck truss. The original splines were giving me issues, and it wasn't until I contacted colorado71 - the original creator of the steel bridge spline - for help that I was able to do what I wanted. He graciously took the time to create a set of separate trestle bents that I could snap to the track, and combined with a section of deck girder bridge that didn't have pre-attached supports, I was able to create the proper-looking bridge I wanted. I do still have to edit the center span, as it currently has standard gauge rails on it, but that shouldn't be too hard to do on my own.

From very near the beginning of the CP&P's design, I knew that I wanted to have a snowshed somewhere on the layout - the type of snowshed shown here is probably my favorite kind. It proved difficult for me to find a place that seemed like it made logical sense, as most Colorado narrow gauge railroads didn't have very many snowsheds I could turn to for reference - and the ones they did have were usually just a wooden tunnel covering critical wyes so that snowplow trains could turn around. However, I finally found a place that looked like it would work, and lo and behold, the new snowshed is now in place. I'll probably add a few trees and bushes here to liven things up, along with some rockwork and some new textures and such, but that's for a later date.

This is the latest shot of Tanglefoot Curve, showing how I changed the fence so that it cuts off the livestock from the local... pond? Small lake? Not sure what it would be properly called... Anyways, the reason for this is because the town gets its drinking water from the lake, which is fed by a natural spring further up the mountainside and drains due to the water soaking down through the ground beneath it like a natural sinkhole. Water for the animals would be pumped up to a water trough in the field so that the local water supply isn't contaminated with anything nasty that the local animals might be carrying.

I've chosen to do a bit of remodeling on the Lime Kilns and Coke Ovens at Gothic, with the lime kiln being covered here. I've added a fence around the premises, and I flipped the loading dock so that the stairs face towards the rest of the industry, rather than away from it. I've also added a storage shed to provide a small space for storing tools, and an open-faced shelter for coal and limestone. Lime extracted from the ovens is stored in barrels (which reminds me that I may need to add a cooper's shop to the facility), which are then stored in the warehouse prior to shipment.

The coke ovens at Gothic have seen a major overhaul, as seen here. The original block of 30 ovens has been replaced with a set of four bottle ovens - I wanted to use the beehive ovens that were so common at many smaller facilities, but these were the closest thing I could find that would work. I've also expanded the facility with a small office building near the entrance, fencing to keep unwanted visitors out, and three different sheds for storing coal, coke, tools, and other materials. The sign at the entrance is a V&T old-style RR crossing sign, which is serving as a stand in for an eventual replacement sign that will bear the name of the industry on it. Future detail work will include workers, wheelbarrows, coal and coke piles, shovels, sacks and a wagon or two.

And with that, you guys are all caught up with my current progress on the route!
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So, here are some more progress shots of the CP&P. The original section of the layout (from Gothic to Castle Peak) has reached the point where it's mostly about detail work, as most of the major work has already been completed. The exception to this is the town of Muley Gap, which I still need to construct. I chose to initiate a major redesign of the town after the original one didn't satisfy me, but that's being held up by a couple of things. Firstly, I've been busy working on other parts of the layout. Secondly, and also part of the reasonf or the first, is that I am considering the addition of a third railroad to the layout - namely, the Gunpowder Falls Mining Railroad. This would be a 2-foot gauge mining railroad inspired by the Gilpin Tramway that would have its terminus in Muley Gap. While I do want to add it, it would add a lot of work to a project that still has quite a way to go, so I've been holding off on the decision - as well as the construction of Muley Gap - until other sections of the layout are in a more finished state. Also, once I make a bit more progress on the route, I have considered releasing preview versions of it, similar to how Dangavel did the same for his Uintah Railway route while he was working on it.

Anyways, moving on! The idea of adding coal dealers to each of the towns on the line was a decision that came quite late in the overall design process, so I had some issues with them in certain areas. Castle Peak already had a coal dealer early on, it's what inspired me to add one to every town, and the rebuilding of Thunder Valley's industrial area made it easy to fit one into the scheme. The coal dealer at Crystal Falls was a challenge due to the tight confines in which it had to fit, but it was made to work. This dealer at Bendaire was also a challenge, though perhaps less so than the one in Crystal Falls, due to a lack of space for the siding. In the end, I managed to fit a small, 2-car siding just on the edge of town, which will introduce some operational challenge since the dealership carries three commodities - coal, kerosene, and ice - that all need separate cars. Here, you can see that Bendaire's dealer is a bit more primitive than the one in other towns - the office is simpler and the icehouse smaller, the kerosene tank is wedged in beside the icehouse, and the coal is just shoveled out of the gondolas into a pile beside the track.

I did some quick google-fu research on old toll roads - often called turnpikes bac in the day - to see if I could rustle up some good references. I did find some images of the toll road operated by Otto Mears between Silverton and Ouray, one of which actually showed a toll booth. The setup had a log cabin in which the man responsible for collecting tolls could live, with a rough-hewn boom gate to block passage until the toll was paid. I didn't have a boom gate asset that would work, so I went with a regular fence gate (presumably shut with a chain and padlock). Fences on either side prevent wagon drivers from going around the gate without paying the toll - turnpike companies preferred to place toll booths in areas that had natural obstacles restricting such toll dodging shenanigans. I also replaced the telegraph booth I originally used with a log cabin, providing living space for the staff. Aspen Ridge also plays home to a halfway point on the roads and is thus a bit more substantial in terms of facilities. Here we see the cabin for staff, and the blacksmith forge that allows wagons to pay for minor repairs or horseshoe replacements if necessary.

This image was shot from the opposite side of the facility at Aspen Ridge. On the left of the roadway is a small stable where horses can be left to rest overnight, though it only has five stalls, so I may choose to add a small corral to it later for more capacity. On the right is the bunkhouse, a log-built one-story-with-loft structure that provides space for travelers to sleep overnight, though the accommodations are a bit rough. Just beyond the bunkhouse are the outhouses - one for men, one for women. I have since changed the road to use a different spline asset, since the dirt tracks shown here hover just above the ground, which doesn't end up looking very good, and lowering them to the right height manually is more work than I want to handle.

After some input from my mother, who has more knowledge of the agricultural and animal handling world than I thanks to her youth, I moved the fence nearest the lake back a ways to prevent the groundwater from being contaminated by animal waste - it's probably not enough by real standards, but this being a compressed model railroad type of route meant I had to make do with what I could. I have also supplied the grazing field with a windmill that pumps water into a trough for the animals, and then I placed a feed trough on either side of it.
I recently did some work on Spencer's Landing - most of the original layout sections are approaching a passable state of completion and only need detail work to finish bringing them to life. Here, I replaced the original dirt paths with a set of gravel ones, since the original paths suffered from a case of hover-itis that didn't look good and lowering them to ground level manually proved too difficult. Another change is the addition of the dining hall opposite the flag stop - Spencer's Landing may be directly adjacent to Thunder Valley on the layout, but according to the history it is supposed to be some distance away, so having a place where the passengers could eat while waiting for a rain or steamboat seemed appropriate. I added a bench for people to sit on, as well as a short platform extension with some luggage and a scale for weighing packages in order to determine the shipping fair. On the left of the image, you can see the pile of coal that is used for supplying the steamboat fuel bunkers, and a blue dumpcart used for delivering and/or moving it around.

This image gives us a better look at the dock, which has seen some new additions. Spencer's Landing is a popular destination for outdoorsmen wanting to go fishing, so I wanted to add a bait shop - most of the assets were too large, but this one fit quite well, and even provided a small dock for rowboats that could be rented out, so I'm quite pleased with it. I added a set of crossing boards to make it easier for people to get across the tracks. Spencer's Landing is not just a place where passengers move between trains and boats - that movement also includes freight and mail, so I added an assortment of freight to the dock, along with some workmen and a few carts and dollies to help move it around. On the right of the shot, you can see a workman shoveling coal from the pile into bags so that it can be carried down to the steamboat, and behind him is the local outhouse for both the flag stop and the dock.

This image shows off the details added to the steamboat dock. The structure here is supposed to be a ticket and freight office for the steamboat company, so it will need to be reskinned eventually. I have added a trio of waiting passengers, along with some luggage, freight, and a scale. If you look closely, you'll also see that I've added a pair of fire buckets hanging on the side of the building as well - you can never have enough fire buckets when dealing with wooden structures near coal-burning steam engines!

This aerial shot provides a good overall look at the new additions to Spencer's Landing. Just at the bottom of the picture, you can see the new fill under the tracks leading to the dock - Originally, I just had a terrain-matching track spline that didn't look all that great, so I'm very happy with how much better the new fill looks in comparison.
This shot shows the new water tanks at Gothic. The windmill draws water out of Tanglefoot Lake and pumps it into the two storage tanks behind it, providing a limited water supply for the town during dry periods. Most locals also have water barrels that they use to collect rainwater, but will otherwise fill their barrels here at the pump.

After adding the new ovens, I went about the process of detailing the scene with piles of coal and coke, workmen, tools, etc. This shot, taken from the back of the facility, shows the wagon entrance leading into the storage yard. Here, piles of coal and coke are sorted prior to use or shipment, respectively. You can also see the loading/unloading stage next to the track, as gondolas filled with coal are unloaded by hand using shovels.

This shot of the coke ovens shows the front of the facility. The small, unpainted wood building is the office, and the red building behind it is a small backsmith forge and/or storage shed. You can get a better look and the loading/unloading stage here, as well as the setup for the ovens, where coal has been piled between them for easy access during operation.

Moving back up the line, we now take a peek at Crystal Falls. I like to watch the Thunder Mesa Studio channel on YouTube for inspiration, and his video about building the Maggie Mine on the Thunder Mesa layout led to me wanting to replace the original structure for this mine with a smaller headframe and hoisthouse setup. I actually like it this way, as it looks more interesting, and it also clears up more space for the coal and timbers, something the original structure didn't leave much room for. I then added a fence around the premise, and even added a pet goat for laughs!

I still don't have a great name for this location, but meh... Anyways, I've added more trees on the right side of the tracks in Green Gap, creating more of a forest here.

Since the beginning of the design process, I knew that I wanted to have at least one snowshed on the route - and here, we have two! The one on the right was the first to be added, and I added the second on the left after determining that the box canyon there had enough of a slope to make it rather prone to snowslides. So, I added the snowshed there to prevent a possible snowslide from blocking the tunnel.

I still need to name this part of the layout, but that can wait - there are a lot of names still to be worked out anyways... I've made some decent progress here, adding trees, grass, and bushes on either end of the snowshed. The area above the snowshed will be covered by grass, rocks, bushes, and some deadfall, but no trees - any trees would have been swept away long ago by the frequent snowslides that necessitated the construction of the snowshed.

Previously, I had a rather large river feeding into a waterfall that ran through town, but I ultimately realized something - there was no easy way for me to add a source for the river, and worse, the water level would have been flooding the mine tunnels. So, instead, I decided that Bendaire would have to pump its water up from the Crystal River, some 2-300 feet below. This would necessitate either a small steam engine or a powerful windmill, and I chose to use a Southwick turbine-style windmill, since I felt that running a small steam engine may be too costly in the long run, and this windmill looked like it just might be powerful enough to do the job.