The Railroad

Take a Ride on the Fern Creek and Western Mainline here:

The Fern Creek and Western Railroad (FCW) is a freelance garden layout based on the narrow gauge railroads of Coastal California in the early 1900’s. The railroad rises almost 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 3 track yard that is a hub for the railroad’s mine trains as well as for local freights. Through trains running from the future staging area pass through Ericsville on the mainline. There is also a track that branches off the main that goes under the house. This is not only a small storage yard, but during operations it will act as a branch line.

From here the train starts up a 4 1/2% upgrade. The line passes over a cut and then crosses Fern Creek for the first time. After crossing the creek the tracks come into the town of 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 tight curve on the steepest portion of the grade. The train immediately crosses the Priya Canyon Trestle. This near 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, which is the longest tunnel on the railroad. This curved tunnel passes under a mountain with a cinder block base topped with a piece of wood and tar paper with dirt, plants and trees on top. 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 and then enters a long straight section. This is the start of our Highline trackage which runs parallel but at a different height compared to the Yard Tracks at Ericsville. It continues for quite a distance on this straight track until it hits a switch. That divides the track into 2 tracks that run parallel to eachother for 12 feet and then join together again to from a passing siding. This area is known as Camp 2. This Logging Camp is the larger of two on the railroad and is known to be a very busy place on the line. This location also marks the summit of the grade.

The train at this point starts the trip downgrade. Immediately after passing exiting Camp 2 the tracks pass over the Ericsville Viaduct. This bridge crosses over the town of Ericsville. On the other side of the bridge the train enters a 35 foot long straight section. This area is still very much under development and currently we do not know what we are going to do in the area. For now however it takes trains from the back to the front yard.

At the end of he straight section the line hits Camp 1. The log camps are numbered from front yard to back yard since the sawmill is located in front. This is a small log camp that is served by the log train that heads to Camp 2. 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 two Through Warren Truss Bridges that are almost identical, giving them the name the Twin Bridges. There is a small fill in between the two bridges which makes the spans different Bridges. The bridge closest to the sidewalk crosses over the main line since the line has an over and under progression in that area. The train then starts a steeper decent on a 4.75% downgrade as it loops around the town of Parkston.

This is the larger of the 2 towns and is the home to many industries. As the train enters the town the train passes through Parkston station. You can usually find passenger trains waiting in this station as Parkston is a very busy town. Right near the station you can find the sawmill where all the log trains terminate. There is a log pond that the logs are dumped into and the finished lumber products come out of the sawmill and are loaded on box cars. This area is also home to the future ice house and meat packing plant which are currently being planned. The tracks then continue out of the station and cross under one of the twin bridges where the track hits a switch.

The straight side of the switch curves around the Twin Bridges and passes through Tunnel 2 which is under Camp 1. It then continues on a lower route down Side Yard Straights where there is a long passing siding that allows bi-directional running during operating days and open houses. This track then comes back into Ericsville which completes the loop so the trains can run continuously.

The diverging route of the switch takes the train on a through the Parkston Wye and then past the stock yards where stock cars come to get loaded with livestock. The track then curves around and parallels the Parkston Loop. The route crosses the only steel bridge on the layout and then crosses the pathway and enters what we call the center section. This is where the Parkston Yard is. There is many tracks, an engine servicing facility, tank car racks and an active switcher that make this yard a very interesting place to run and watch trains. At the other end of the yard the track crosses the pathway again and then joins in with the log dump track where it can join in with the mainline once again.

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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