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The Sn3 Loon Lake Railway & Navigation Co.

This trestle, and the one barely visible behind it, were built by John Kalin, another Boomer. It is a favorite spot for the local train watchers to set up their tripods as Climax no. 4 rolls along on the way to Beaver Creek. The trestles are located between Camp 8 and Beaver Creek.

The Sn3 Loon Lake Railway & Navigation Co.

July 2020By Dan Munson/photos by the author

In the November 2012 issue, Railroad Model Craftsman visited Peter Smith’s Sn3, Loon Lake Railway & Navigation Company, an operations-based railroad with impressive details and craftsmanship throughout. In association with the NMRA and National Narrow Gauge conventions previously scheduled in St. Louis, Mo., this year (both since cancelled at press time), we decided to revisit this exquisite model railroad.

The Loon Lake Railway & Navigation Co. is a freelanced, narrow gauge, logging railway based in the Pacific Northwest set in 1938. The company also operates a tug and ferry boat service out of the town of Rock Harbor. While most of the traffic on the railroad is related to logging, general freight also generates several trains a day.

Loon Lake Railway & Navigation

Located on the locomotive servicing track in Cascade, this old wooden water tank is based on a design offered years ago by Evergreen Hill Designs in HO. This version in S scale was scratchbuilt by Peter when he first switched to Sn3. Two locomotives occupy the single track while being serviced.

You could call this Peter’s retirement railroad. His previous layouts always faced the inevitable fate of being torn down as his employer, the U.S. Air Force, moved him around the world during his 30-year stint in the service.

Peter has a large 20×50 basement space for his railroad, but he only used a third of the space for the layout. He wanted a layout sized to be completable in his lifetime and easy to maintain. Another large area of the basement is a workshop. Since Peter really enjoys scratchbuilding, it’s no surprise that he has a large work area devoted to these projects. The work area is equal to or a bit larger than the layout. The workshop area allows for several people to be working on projects at the same time. The camaraderie is a big part of the hobby for Peter. There is also a roomy lounge area for crew members to take a break in between work sessions.

Loon Lake Railway & Navigation

The spar pole loading diorama is the latest addition to the layout. Here we see Climax no. 4 positioning a skeleton log car under the boom of the spar pole. The spar pole and boom were fashioned from cedar wood shingle material. The rigging lines are 50 lb. test, woven fishing line. All of the backdrops on Peter’s layout were painted by Greg Gray, a member of the Friday Boomers, a narrow gauge round-robin group.

His layout is a classic folded dog bone. This allows for point-to-point operations and for continuous running during shows and open house events.

Blackhawk is a staging area on the railroad, and is located just inside the workshop area. This location also allows quick access to live tracks from the shop area for testing equipment. Out of Blackhawk, trains come into Rock Harbor. This is where the railway and navigation companies meet. There are many signature scenes on the railroad, but in the author’s opinion, this is the highlight. The wharf and millworks scenes are breathtaking and the detail and weathering work on buildings and boats is equally incredible…

July 2020Read the rest of this story in the July 2020 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman!

This article was posted on: June 17, 2020