A visit to the HO scale Washington Northern
by Kevin Klettke/photos by the author
Welcome to the tideflats of Washington State! The HO scale Washington Northern occupies a 11' x 12' spare bedroom. The layout features Atlas code 83 flex track which was salvaged from my earlier larger layout. The original portion of the layout was built in three separate "domino" shelf style sections which should the opportunity arise to acquire a larger space in the future, could be disassembled and moved without destroying it. A typical operating session currently consists of two daily trains which are pre-staged on the staging tracks. Each staging track has a maximum capacity of five 50 foot cars, one locomotive and a caboose. Cabooses are still required on the Tideflats District because of the numerous facing point switching maneuvers and to provide grade crossing protection during backing movements. Join us for a tour of the Washington Northern...
New power for an old short line
EMD GP38-2 #350 is one of an order of 8 placed by the Washington Northern in 1983. These have proved to be a very successful model on the WN fleet, and can be seen all over the railroad including frequent visits to the Tideflats District. Frequently used on the various branchline movements throughout the system.
The Victor Lenz Memorial Bridge at Wolf Junction
The Victor Lentz Memorial Bridge (named after the WN's founding head engineer) is a steel arch design that carries the mainline over the Wolf RIver upon exiting Tunnel #3 westbound. The bridge is a Faller kit and at first was installed as a temporary span while a Central Valley truss bridge was waiting to be constructed. The longer it's been in place, the better I like the span, but I admit it does have a European flavor that might lean towards unprototypical for the area being modeled. In other words, the company engineers are debating the need to replace this aging structure with something a little more robust to support the ever increasing weight of track over this span. In the meantime, I plan to add a better walkway and railings.
Crossing the diamonds at Union tower
The short train slowly makes it way across Industry Way. It will now make the run down the few hundred yards of track to Elk Creek Hardwoods to pick up a loaded boxcar. Elk Creek Hardwoods is the sole reason this track is still in use. The WN acquired this right of way from the Seattle & North Coast when it called it quits. Before that, it was part of the Milwaukee Road 14th Sub.
Creeping through the junction
After aligning the turnouts for the old Seattle & North Coast branchline, the brakeman retreats back inside the cab while the conductor makes his way to the rear of the train to act as a lookout while the short consist backs first through the diamonds at Union and then across Industry Way.
The fishing boat "Carol" is tied up at pier 14 awaiting it's crew to report before heading to Alaska for the upcoming season. The boat is a Lindberg Tuna Clipper kit with extra details added. The water is Envirotex with gloss gel acrylic used for the rippled surface.
View on the bridge over Elk Creek on Industry way looking back toward Remien Street. As evidenced on this warm spring day, the bridge marks the start of a popular place for walks. Just a hundred or so yards behind the camera, a rail trail begins on the now abandoned 14th Sub.
Creeping through Elk Creek
Washington Northern GP7 #102 creeps slowly across Industry Drive in Elk Creek after delivering a pair of boxcars to Elk Creek Hardwoods.
Switing out the Raven Paper Mill
An elderly GP9 pulls a short line boxcar through the Raven Paper Mill complex to be loaded with newsprint bound for midwestern printing plants.
Switching Raven Pulp & Paper
Washington Northern 5033 idles adjacent to the chemical plant at Raven Pulp & Paper. This first stall of the chemical unloading area was the only portion of the original mill that was left intact after additional layout space was acquired resulting in the original mill being rebuilt.
Chemical unloading at Raver Pulp & Paper
On the right is the new, second chemical track for the mill. It mainly handles the kaolin and dry inbound chemicals for the mill. It is a modified Rix Products kit.
The depths of the paper mill
Washington Northern MP15DC has just delivered chemical and kaolin tanks to the chemical unloading area of the mill. Typically the WN will handle the spotting of the chemical loads for the mill. This came about when the WN purchased a portion of the mill lead tracks to gain access to the former Milwuakee Road's customers after the Milwaukee abandoned their lines in the Olympic Peninsula.
O'Malley Tire Distributors
The O'Malley Tire Distributors warehouse was kitbashed from a Walthers Champion Packing Plant. It was converted to a shallow relief type structure and built to fit into the corner that was recently vacated. This facility receives boxcar loads of tires and also can accomodate flatcars and gondolas loaded with heavy machinery tires for distribution throughout the Olympic Peninsula region. The concrete loading dock was scratchbuilt from styrene. The lettering on the building was done with dry transfer lettering. The whole structure was weathered with weathering powders. The two backdrop flats alongside are Kingmill Radical Flats products.
To see more photos of the Washington Northern, please visit www.wnrr.net.