The Railroad

Take a Ride on the Fern Creek and Western here:

The Fern Creek and Western Railroad (FC&W) is a freelance garden layout based on the narrow gauge railroads of Coastal California. The railroad is set just before the 1920s when railroads and logging were still in their heyday. The railroad rises about two feet in its progression from the lowest point on the line to the summit, crossing many bridges, passing through two tunnels and climbing steep grades.

The railroad starts in the back yard at Ericsville. This town has a two track passenger station as well as a 5 track yard that is a hub for the railroad’s for local freights. Ericsville is a division point. All three lines meet here, the line to the imaginary “outer world” (i.e. the staging yard in the garage), the logging branch from north and the Birch Mountain route mainline that goes to the front yard. Log trains switch power here. Rod engines take the log trains over mainline to the sawmill in front, while geared engines take the log trains up into the woods on the steep and twisty log branch.

The Birch Mountain route is the mainline of the railroad. Immediately after leaving Ericsville, the train starts up a ruling 4% grade. The line passes ta cut and then crosses Fern Creek for the first time. After crossing the creek the tracks come into Priya Canyon. There is a spur here that serves the Priya Canyon Sand Mine, which is a busy industry on the railroad. On the other side of the switch for the spur, the track crosses Old Birch Mountain Road and turns a curve on the steepest portion of the grade. The train immediately crosses the Priya Canyon Trestle. This nearly 4 foot long trestle spans Priya Canyon and is one of the most impressive photo locations on the railroad.

After crossing the Trestle the train enters Tunnel #1. This curved tunnel passes under a mountain with a cinder block base topped with a wood and tar paper structure Dirt, plants and trees on top create a realistic looking mountain. Many people wouldn’t realize it but the whole hill is man made. There was once a large tree in this location so to fill the large area this tree once covered, we decided to build a hill and tunnel. On the upgrade side of the tunnel the train crosses Old Birch Mountain Road again and then crosses Fern Creek again on the Upper Fern Creek Bridge. This is the location of our waterfall and is one of the most scenic locations on the line.

On the other side of the bridge the train takes a gentile S-curve. The track then flattens out and enters a long straight section. This is the start of our Highline trackage which runs parallel but at a different height compared to the tracks at Ericsville. It continues for quite a distance on this straight track until it rolls into the town of Nolansburg. Nolansburg is a small isolated town with a tannery as its main industry. There is also pulpwood loading and a team track here that provide operational interest.

After the departure from Nolansburg, the tracks pass over the Ericsville Viaduct and start a steady 2% grade climb to the summit. The train then enters onto a planter box and flattens out. At one time this was just a straight section of elevated track, but this area is currently under reconstruction, but it will eventually be the summit of the railroad. The town Mt. Charlie will occupy this location with a lime kiln and other small industries.

The train then turns a curve and enters the front yard portion of the layout. At this point in the line the train passes over a long bridge. The bridge crosses over the main line that descends down into the town of Parkston.

The front yard is currently under reconstruction. We will be writing a bit more about that once it is complete!

This is the general track plan. Watch the video located at the top of the page that will show you a ride over the mainline of the railroad!

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