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Jon Schmidt
Nicasio Northern, HO

Note this layout is offered a "2-Fer" with BillKaufman's State Belt, about 10 minutes drive away. Sessions will be offered Friday and Sunday,

This is an enjoyable switching layout in a great setting, the trip to get here includes spectacular views of the San Francisco Bay as you cross the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. The adventurous bridge lovers can allow an extra hour or so and detour across the Bay and Golden Gate Bridges!

In the early 20th century the farmers and ranchers of the North San Francisco Bay decided that they needed a way to get their product to market. They pooled their resources and built the Nicasio Southern Railroad from Nicasio, Marin County, CA, USA to the port of Bayside on San Francisco Bay. Between underestimating the cost of construction and overestimating the traffic, the railroad failed. San Francisco financiers saw an opportunity, took over the railroad as the Nicasio Northern Railway, and extended it to Highland. At this time (1924, approximately) the road is barely surviving. The Nicasio Northern is a short line, best characterized as a freelanced "rails in the mud" San Francisco North Bay railroad. It operates freight and passenger, including a ferry schedule to San Francisco. Its route goes from Bayside to Highland in the north (railroad east). There is a branch from Skalville to Yawn which is the connection to the national rail network. Lots of switching activity in Bayside with the wharf, local industries, and the passenger yard. Several freight and passenger trains per day.

The Nicasio Northern railway weaves through the hills on muddy and slippery roadbed. Need I mention that this is earthquake country? Even if the right of way was once perfectly laid out with straight tangents and smooth grades and curves, it didn't stay that way. The little steam engines rock and roll as they lead their trains across the pike.

The Nicasio Northern is an HO-scale model railroad. It is designed for TT&TO operation with switchlists. It runs only steam, with Soundtraxx sound in the locomotives and Digitrax DCC for control. We run a 4:1 fast clock. Track is complete and operational. Scenery is about 30% complete. The layout has a peninsula in the center of the 12 x 21 foot space, and the rest of the track runs around perimeter of the room. Bayside yards and the engine terminal are on the peninsula. It has 28" aisles. It is NOT disabled accessible (stairs).

You can find more information and operating documents on Jon's website:

modified 1/17/2023