Thunder Bay 2015 Part 4: San Juan Operations

As the primary reason for going to Thunder Bay was to operate on model railroads, you may be wondering if I would ever get around to talking about the trains! There was so much to do and see, and the hospitality of our Canadian friends seemed to have no end. In spite of all the extra activities, however, we managed to find plenty of time to run the trains.

We spent many hours each day operating on three different layouts: Craig Symington’s Rio Grande Southern in HOn3, Doug Deley’s Rock Mountain in N-scale, and Matt Wilson’s Sumat Northern in HO. I posted videos of our operating sessions on these same three layouts following last year’s trip. You can view them on my YouTube channel here:

This year I elected to take only pictures instead of videos since I wished to spend more time with a throttle in my hands running the trains. While Matt’s and Doug’s layouts were enjoyable to operate, I selected Craig Symnington’s layout as the subject of my photos since it is set in a location and era similar to what I hope to one day model.

Craig is an accomplished modeler and author of numerous articles published in popular magazines such as the Narrow Gauge and Short Line Gazette. His skill and attention to detail can be seen in many scratch built and kit bashed structures and rolling stock, as well as in the scenes he composed when he recreated the nostalgic good old days of the Rio Grande Southern.

He gave a clinic at this year’s National Narrow Gauge Convention in Houston, Texas. The topic was the history of the Vanadium mine. He presented the clinic to us one evening and I must say, the amount of time he spent over the past 20 years researching previously unpublished historical facts was impressive. I can hardly wait to see his own model of Vanadium!

Craig’s does a masterful job capturing the ambience of the San Juan region of southwest Colorado. A lot is packed into a small space, representing the railroad between Ridgeway and Rico, just a portion of the nearly 170 mile long route. These photos can only begin to capture what it was like to see such a great model railroad.