The BNSF Pink Lady Subdivision is based on the finding of the Pink Lady Mine (PLM) in the Warner Mountains, located in the extreme North Eastern corner of California. The PLM was established in 1975 after the discovery of Pink Unobtainium (PU). PU has been a gold mine so to say to the prospectors and the region the mine is located. PU has found many uses that were never imagined until some crazy industrious Model Railroaders started to invent uses for PU. Even though the actual uses of PU are well guarded national secrets, known only by a selected few, it has been rumored, that PU can be found in numerous production processes from steel to soda pop. In short time the spur line for the mine was overwhelmed with traffic that originated on and off the spur. With these demands it only seemed logical to make this a bridge route. After an extensive review of satellite imagery and tricky legal negotiations a bridge route was planned, fundraising was obtained, and construction of the BN PLSD was begun. The bridge would be between Bieber, CA and Boise, Idaho. The traffic was very heavy with connections to the Northern routes of the Burlington Northern R.R. and a Southern Route to connections via the Western Pacific R.R. The Eastern gateway was a fast run to Canada, Salt Lake City, and all points east. New towns and industries were formed making the Pink Lady a very busy subdivision. It is now the 1990s and the BN, ATSF, WP, DRG&W, and the IC have all merged to create a Railroad empire to take on the UP. The merger name is Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) and this is the Pink Lady Subdivision.
The actual BNSF PLSD occupies a 21 by 17 foot California basement (a garage) and was designed with operation in mind. There are three decks of track work that flow around the room hugging the walls on three walls and protrudes into the room on a peninsula. The track work starts and ends in big looped staging areas. The subdivision includes 5 towns, 4 passing sidings, a ten track yard, a two turn helix, the Pink Lady Mine and numerous industries.
During an operating session the train line up includes locals, drag freights, through traffic and extras as required. We usually run 10 to 20 trains during a session. There is enough operating for 8 to 10 operators including a yardmaster with two assistants and a dispatcher. Car movements are generated by car cards. Train movement is by Track Warrant Control (TWC). Communications is by two-way FRS radios. Operations are meant to be purposeful but relaxed. If you are not having fun I have not been successful.
The track work is code 83 flex track laid on cork, pink foam and plywood. The layout is controlled by NCE/System One DCC. Wireless and tethered throttles are currently being used. The electrical system has automatic reverse loops and power shield protection that is broken down into 5 blocks. The mainline run is approximately 250. Mainline minimums include: #6 or greater turnouts, 2.5 % or less grades, 30 inch or greater radius. Turnouts are controlled by Tortoise switch machines and caboose hobbies ground throws. 100% of the mainline is laid with the engine facility being the only track work left to be laid. Currently the layout has about 20 percent of the scenery in place. I am using Bragdon Rocks for the mountain scenery and various structures for modern industries.
I look forward to meeting you at Bayrails IX and I hope you have a fantastic operating experience.