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Tony Thompson

Southern Pacific Santa Rosalia Branch

Tony Thompson's SP Santa Rosalia Branch is about a 45 minute drive away from the BayRails Hotel, plan to leave at 9:00 AM on Friday and 9:15 AM on Sunday.

The layout is set in the Central Coast area of California in 1953, and represents a fictitious branch line (see map). The branch is primarily a switching challenge and hosts numerous industries typical of the area and era.

The layout is Tee-shaped, with both legs of the Tee about 15 feet in length. The town of Shumala is the junction of the branch with SP's main line of the Coast Route. An intermediate town on the branch is Ballard, and at the seaside the branch ends at Santa Rosalia (rose-uh-LEE-uh). Nearly all track is installed, most structures are in place, and about 90 percent of scenery is complete.

Locomotives are a mixture of steam and diesel, all with DCC and sound, and control is via NCE wireless throttles. Most turnouts on the layout are hand-thrown. There is a 1:1 clock, and crews simply work to complete the switching needs of the area they are working.

Freight cars are a particular interest here, so most cars operating on the layout are models of specific cars and prototypes for the era. Special interest attaches to both refrigerator cars and tank cars, and usually there are a fair number of both car types in any particular session.

A prototype-inspired waybill system has been devised for the layout, which has been described in several publications, most recently including The Dispatcher's Office (the OpSIG magazine), in October 2016, and in Model Railroad Hobbyist (January 2018). Considerable discussion of the development and use of these waybills has been written up in my blog, which can be found at: .

Normal operating patterns employ two two-person crews to work on each side of the layout. The timetable contains maps of each town. A mainline local also operates, to pick up and set out the branch line's cars at the junction, and mainline trains also pass by at Shumala.

Here's a TSG Multimedia Video Tour

Tony is about 30 minutes from Oakland (OAK) airport and 45 minutes from SFO for your Sunday getaway but traffic is highly variable.

Modified 4/17/24