THE TRACK PLANS FOR MY LAYOUT are shown below.
The doors to the layout room are on the bottom of this plan. To the left, as you enter the room, is the Yosemite Valley Railroad's interchange with the Southern Pacific Railroad in Merced. Directly above the SP Interchange (vertically) is Moss Canyon on the upper level while El Portal stretches out on the upper level to the right and is not shown in this view; the plans for the layout are shown in the order of operation so the upper level plan is at the end of this page.
From the SP Interchange, tracks cross the duck-under and enter a reversing loop under the peninsula. The reversing loop is not used during regular operating sessions but only for Open Houses. (During Open Houses, trains run from this reversing loop to the wye at Moss Canyon and back.) At the left end of the duck-under in the plan is a turnout which leads to the Merced yards, shown in the next plan. A freight train which has picked up or set out cars at the SP Interchange can return to the YV Merced yards by crossing the duck-under (labeled Barrett Bridge in the plan below), passing around the reversing loop, and then taking the right-hand track at the turnout on the duck-under. On the prototype, passenger trains were also backed down to the SP Interchange from the Merced yards to pick up Pullmans set out by the Southern Pacific Railroad; this movement can be duplicated on the layout.
The reversing loop under the peninsula also provides a location for staging and I did provide one passing track for this purpose, with the idea of adding more later. However, staging really isnít appropriate for my type of operation which is more typical of a branch line than a "bridge" route since the Yosemite Valley Railroad dead-ended at El Portal at the boundary of Yosemite National Park. On the prototype YV, cars were picked up at the SP and AT&SF interchanges and delivered to on-line customers and visa-versa. The single "staging" track is therefore used to store a track cleaning train rather than for typical staging.
This is the basic plan for the lower level. It doesn't show the reversing loop under the peninsula but does repeat the SP Interchange area.
Merced was the site of the railroadís main yards and includes the station/general office, roundhouse, turntable, shops, etc. The prototype had a wye here (which I didnít duplicate) to turn passenger trains to the north (left in this view) of the yards; with this exception, the layout design follows the prototype very closely.
From Merced, the mainline crosses the AT&SF mainline (protected by an interlocking tower) and, after crossing over several creeks, passes the spur leading to the Yosemite Portland Cement Company plant. On the prototype, this was a mile-long spur servicing a very large cement operation. The YV delivered limestone (the main ingredient in Portland cement) from a quarry at Emory (modeled on the second level) to this plant using ex-Great Northern 22í hopper cars (called "rock cars" on the YV). Rather than attempt to build the cement plant, I included just a short spur here which still allows the switching operations to be duplicated.
Beyond the YPCo. Spur, tracks cross the Merced River, pass through the area around Hopeton (with the trees in the plan) and enter Merced Falls, site of Yosemite Sugar Pine Lumber Company lumber mill, box factory, planing mill, and shipping dock. Logs were delivered by the YV to Merced Falls from Incline (also modeled on the second level). The YV was therefore relatively unique in that it picked up raw materials for two industries (logs and limestone) from on-line locations and delivered them to on-line plants for processing. The finished products from these operations (lumber and bagged cement) were also picked up by the YV and delivered to either the SP or AT&SF interchanges in Merced. (I didnít model the AT&SF interchange).
Upon leaving Merced Falls, the YV mainline begins the 2.3% climb from the first level (at generally 45" from the floor) to the second level (generally at 60" from the floor). It then enters Tunnel No. 1, one of four concrete-lined tunnels and five steel bridges built as part of a track relocation project in the early 1920s necessitated by the construction of Exchequer Reservoir on the Merced River upstream of Merced Falls. A one-turn helix is hidden in the peninsula inside the tunnel. After exiting from the tunnel, the tracks level off to cross Barrett Bridge, the 1600-foot-long bridge over McClure Reservoir.
Upon passing over the Barrett Bridge, the tracks duck behind the Merced yards at Kittridge and continue the climb to the second level, emerging just before crossing Bagby Bridge over the Merced River.
After crossing the river, the mainline enters the small community of Bagby, crossing Highway 49 just before reaching the station and water tank. Beyond Bagby, the tracks continue to follow the Merced River to Emory (on the right wall in this view), site of the Yosemite Portland Cement limestone quarry and a 2100-foot-long incline between the quarry/crusher and the storage bunker next to the tracks. Around the corner is Incline on the end of the peninsula, the lower end of the 8700-foot-long logging incline up Trumbell Peak which gave access to the timber north of Trumbell Peak harvested by the Yosemite Sugar Pine Lumber Company. The incline on the layout is animated although it is not actually used to move loaded log cars down from the woods to Incline.
Continuing pass Incline, the mainline crosses the duck-under area again and passes the water tank at Moss Canyon before circling behind Merced to return to the wye near Moss Canyon. This turnback curve was the solution to getting trains into El Portal oriented the same as the prototype. On the prototype, freight trains ran straight into El Portal while passenger trains were turned on the wye and backed the remaining 2.5 miles to El Portal; I follow the same pattern during operations on the layout.
There is a slight grade from Incline to Moss Canyon (this was the steepest grade on the prototype) so that the Moss Canyon wye is 62" from the floor. El Portal is at the same level as the wye but a step up from the duck-under to floor next to El Portal makes the rail height at El Portal only 56" above the floor.
Finally, above the Moss Canyon wye is Camp 17, representing the logging areas near present-day Highway 120. This scene it fully functional but, at 77" from the floor, can only be seen or operated by standing on a step stool. While I had originally envisioned an operator would be ferrying loaded log cars out to the top of the incline and empties back to the camp using one of the lumber company Shays, I have since backed off on this concept and the scene is basically static.
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