N.C. & St. L. Layout

This 20 foot by 20 foot N scale layout is an exact, turnout by turnout, representation of the N.C. & St.L’s trackage between Cowan and Tantallon, Tennessee as it existed in the 1940’s.  Also included is the Tracy City branch, nicknamed “The Mountain Goat”, between Cowan and Tracy City.  Operations center on the fascinating pusher operations required to get trains up and over the 1.8 per cent grade up Cumberland Mountain.

The layout was built to fine scale standards using Micro Engineering code 55 track on the main and Micro Engineering code 40 rail on the secondary track.  Mainline turnouts feature Tam Valley “Frog Juicers” for enhanced reliability.  The distinctive portals at Cowan were scratch built using a sophisticated technique involving importing photos of the actual portals into CAD and then having them engraved, stone by stone, in styrene. The customer wanted a mechanically complete layout with some scenery.  I fully sceniced the Cumberland Mountain scene on the center peninsula.  The customer enjoys scenery and structure work so he will do the balance of the scenery as well as all of the structures.  I also painted and ballasted all of the track as part of the contract.


Shown above are the scratch built portals and stone arch bridges. They are exact, stone by stone, models of the prototype.


A backdrop was also included and given a base coat of sky blue. The customer will add the horizon line and other backdrop images. The use of aluminum trim coil results in a totally seamless surface.


This shows what the layout looked like early in the construction process. The town of Cowan is on the right, the cement plant on the outskirts of town can be seen on the left.


Since the layout was designed with prototypical operations in mind, a large staging yard was included.


Here’s the yard at Cowan. Every turnout on the prototype was represented. You can see the wye in the foreground. Track is a combination of code 40 and code 55.