Scenery Marvelous, Operations a Dream
The Mountain Division: Kamloops to Field was John’s second layout,
which modelled the crossing of Rogers Pass in the Selkirk Mountains.
It benefited in many ways from the first. The existence of
locomotives, rolling stock, structures and scenery, even backdrops,
allowed it to be completed in a relatively short period time; it was
constructed between 2000 and 2003. This resulted in a consistency in
scenic appearance, which was marvelous. John also took advantage
of his experiences with his first layout to design and construct a
layout that was not only esthetically pleasing, but was also a dream
Central to the operation of John Marlor’s Canadian Pacific was the
climb over both the Eagle Pass and Rogers Pass. Rogers Pass, at an
elevation of 4,364 feet (1,330 m), was the more challenging of the
two. On John’s layout, trains of more than 8 cars literally could not
make the grade east up the Illecillewaet River Valley to Albert
Canyon, Glacier and the west portal of the Connaught Tunnel.
Likewise, trains of more than 10 cars had difficulty making the grade
west from Revelstoke to Clanwilliam, Eagle Pass (elevation 1,804
feet; 550 m) and on to Taft.
Helper locomotives were added at Revelstoke to take the trains over
the passes. With the Digitrax control system an additional locomotive
could be added anywhere in the consist, although it was usual to add
it to the head end. The Digitrax control module was then
programmed to handle both locomotives off of one throttle. Helper
locomotives were cut out at Glacier and Taft and run light back down
grade to Revelstoke.
The two passenger tracks at the Revelstoke station accommodated
meets of the east- and westbound passenger trains although this was
not prototypical. The railway usually didn’t like to have two
passenger trains in the station at one time as the one farthest from
the station was difficult for passengers to access and, of course,
there was always the possibility that passenger would re-board the
wrong train. But John liked passenger trains and always had four
complete trains, two at Kamloops and two at Field, ready to run
through the layout.
Taft, Glacier and Albert Canyon were regular stops for passenger
trains. All had passing sidings long enough to accommodate meets.
Trains descending the Illecillewaet Valley from Rogers Pass via Glacier
were required to stop at both Glacier and Albert Canyon for a brake
check. Often they met trains ascending to the pass.
Revelstoke’s yard also accommodated the Arrowhead Express, a two
coach, one baggage car passenger, which ran regularly from
Revelstoke to Arrowhead on the branch. A siding beside the
Revelstoke station accommodated the baggage car, and often a
Sperry rail car. A tail track east of the station was used to store the
two coaches, and sometimes the baggage car.
Through freight consisted of trains moving east from Vancouver with
products from around the world, and west from eastern Canada and
the prairies with products for coast and foreign markets. In 1937, the
era modeled by John, wheat from the prairies was moved in boxcars.
Thus John had a sizable fleet of boxcars on his layout, over 105 in all.
Boxcars were also used to move wood products to both to the coast
and inland, adding to the need for a substantial fleet. Cattle were
moved both east and west from the Kamloops region and the prairies,
respectively. Ore cars moved coal and minerals, particularly to the
The town of Albert Canyon was situated 2 miles (3 km) west of the
canyon or gorge. It was originally the headquarters of the Waverly
Mining Company. The mine was situated 24 miles from the village on
the headwaters of Bownie creek. John moved the mine to west end of
the yard and made it a coal mine. This enhanced operations by
allowing for supplying of the Revelstoke and Arrowhead yard service
The mine made for interesting switching at Albert Canyon, the yard
being on the north side of the main line and the mine on the south. In
addition to the exchange of loaded coal cars with empties, boxcars of
mine supplies and flat cars with loads of timber were also delivered.
A hoist was provided next to the mine building for unloading the
timbers. Bunkhouses were provided for the workers just east of the
mine, between the mine and the station.
John also modelled Clanwilliam as a mining town. The mine was a
much smaller and, apparently, a less profitable operation than that at
Albert Canyon. Mining was carried out on a smaller scale and the
buildings were very makeshift.
The Arrowhead Branch
On John’s layout, Clanwilliam also served as the junction of the
branch line south to Arrowhead and the Arrow Lakes.
Arrowhead was built on a narrow strip of land on the shore of the
lake hugging the mountains. Thus, it essentially consisted of
one main street as depicted in John's layout. A small fruit packing
company with a single siding, which could accommodate one or two
cars, was the only industry depicted on John’s layout at Arrowhead.
From an operational point of view this tied in nicely with the
icehouse at Revelstoke. Reefers could be iced at Revelstoke then
moved to Arrowhead for loading, or east and west on the main line.
The small yard provided services, coal, water and maintenance, for
arriving trains and for the yard locomotive kept at Arrowhead.
The station had a run around siding and a dock siding to
accommodate the Arrowhead Express.
Two tracks behind the station accessed the barge for loading and
unloading, as was the case from early days. A gondola filled with
stone was kept at Arrowhead to “reach” onto the barge so that cars
could be loaded and unloaded without the heavy yard locomotive
crossing onto the barge. The short length of tail track, which
accessed the barge tracks, added to operation difficulty. Taking into
account the length of the yard locomotive, tender and gondola, only
two cars at a time could be loaded or unloaded from the barge. The
barge could accommodate ten cars, five on each track.
It was easy to envisage John’s layout having the walkways as the
Arrow Lakes. Indeed the lakes extended into the workroom where the
barge functioned as a means of transferring cars to and from the
layout to the work bench and to storage tracks which were separate
from the layout.