Train 497 with 6890 and 869 meeting train 480 with 247, 321 at Richton on Dennis Eggert's freelanced HO scale C&NW Seneca Subdivision. All of the models are based on actual C&NW prototypes of the 1970s.
Alcos, Grain Elevators and Slow Track:
The HO 1970’s C&NW Seneca Subdivision
by Dennis Eggert/photos by Jeff Eggert, except as noted
During the 1970’s, the Chicago & North Western railroad still rostered an interesting mix of first and second generation diesels. This was especially true on the C&NW’s secondary line between Winona, Minnesota and Pierre, South Dakota, which ran through southern Minnesota. In 1969, the C&NW segregated minority locomotive types in geographical regions of the railroad. This resulted in greater fleet maintenance efficiency. Alco diesels were assigned to the Winona-Pierre line with the Huron, South Dakota roundhouse as their home shop for maintenance. The Alcos diesels dominated the line, so much that rail fans named it "The Alco Line." The line ran through cornfields over hogback hills between the prairie towns, with the tall grain elevators visible for miles. Much of the grain moving on the line was still carried in 40-foot boxcars, some still painted with 1950s billboard lettering and "Route of the Streamliners" advertising. The track on the line was maintenance deferred with some 10 MPH segments. The good track might be good for 35! The atmosphere of the line was very unique; like a working motive power and freight car museum.
The Seneca Subdivision is my free-lance HO scale model railroad, based on the C&NW’s Alco Line in the mid-1970s. Motive power, freight cars and structures are all based on actual C&NW prototypes. All 250 feet of the track and all turnouts are hand spiked on wood ties. A Digitrax DCC system is used for control. Scenery covers about 50% of the 160 lineal feet of the single-level layout. About 60-lineal feet of the layout is currently being reconstructed. Enjoy your visit to the Seneca Sub!
An overview of Seneca Yard and its compact engine facility.
The engine facilities at Seneca Yard look like your typical small town terminal with compact servicing and an assortment of spare parts stored outside the single-stall engine house. The large grain co-op in the background is a common sight in most upper midwestern towns.
An SW1 and RS36 idle away the hours between assignments at the Seneca engine terminal as Extra 254 west arrives. The 254 is assisted today by three other F-units of assorted lineage from C&NW’s second-hand F-unit fleet. Photo by Dennis Eggert
A closer look at the engines near the sandtower at Seneca Yard. Note the Chicago Great Western fuel service tank car, an indication of the 1968 takeover of CGW by the C&NW. The F-unit is former Missouri-Kansas-Texas and the Alco came from the Carolina & North Western, only the sand tower is original C&NW equipment.
C&NW 402 leads a lashup of Alco and EMD power on a heavy tonnage freight departing Richton. The train is about to cross the Richton manual interlocking plant (notice the gate with STOP sign).
Powered by a quartet of secondhand F-units, Extra 254 North rumbles over the diamond at Richton. As soon as the northbound clears the plant, the brakeman will line the manual interlocking plant for his movement and his train will continue eastward. This scene was common at Waseca and Dodge Center, Minnesota where the C&NW’s F-unit powered north-south lines crossed the Alco Line. Photo by Dennis Eggert
A rare Baldwin VO-660M switches a cut of cars in Seneca Yard. The venerable Baldwin switchers would remain on the C&NW roster through the late 1970s. The 1242 was repowered by EMD in 1958 with an 8-cylinder 567 prime mover. The track was deliberately altered to replicate the rough track conditions of the 1970's.
Train 497 with C&NW 6890 and 869 west of Richton with a long freight. Notice the nose-mounted bell, a detail specific to the C&NW's fleet of diesel locomotives.
When operating on poorly maintained track, derailments will happen. Such was the case this day when four cars left the rails and caused major track damage. No one was injured and no hazardous materials were spilled. Photo by Dennis Eggert
Train 497 crosses Butternut Creek with 1553, 1665 and leased LASCO 2014. The 1553 was originally Litchfield & Madison #302 and was acquired when the C&NW purchased that road. The LASCO RSD12 would wind up on the Utah Railway in 1976, where it finished its career.
On another day, slug set 404-BU40-402 leads train 497 over Butternut Creek. The C&NW built two slugs in 1971 from retired RS units and used them with its four C425s. The slug set model was featured in the March and April 2008 issues of Railroad Model Craftsman. Photo by Dennis Eggert
To see more of Dennis Eggert's models, please visit the C&NW Diesel Shop. To learn more about the Chicago & North Western, visit the C&NW Historical Society.