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  • Three’s Company: Neighbors on the MILW West Coast Extension

    2012 - 07.25

    (Pt.3 on my model train odyssey. Click here for Pt.1 and Pt.2)

    I started researching what other railroads ran through the same territory as the Milwaukee. The candidates for intermingling would be the Union Pacific (“UP”), the Great Northern (“GN”), and the Northern Pacific (“NP”). I’d like to have a second road around for the sake of operational complexity and visual variety. More colors are good. The UP would introduce yellow, GN would introduce more orange and dark green, NP would give any number of shades of green.

    Despite the fact that the UP would make the most logical companion to my MILW (they shared depots), I really just … don’t like the UP! This is owing to the fact that a passenger-sharing agreement with the UP drove the Milwakee to repaint their orange and maroon livery into the standard UP yellow scheme, thusly ending my favorite schemes. To me, the UP Yellow is like a boring beige. It’s the Toyota Camry of railroad paint schemes: sensible and cheap. But overpoweringly bland. Uninspiring. Ubiquitious to the point of forgettable. I’m looking for something more unique than UP. That leaves me with the GN and the NP. Fortunately, there are some interesting possibilities for modeling these lines…

    The GN and the NP both had flagship passenger trains that were pretty neat; The Empire Builder & The North Coast Limited, respectively. Since the Empire Builder is mostly orange, for the sake of variety I’m more interested in the North Coast Limited. Depending on the year I want to call it, there are TWO distinct and arresting paint schemes for the NCL: 1. the so-called “Pine Tree” scheme, which is a two-tone dark green with a thin yellow stripe for ‘pop’ and 2. the “Raymond Loewy” scheme, created by the same famous industrial designer who drafted the design for the MILW Erie-built diesels as noted in the last post. The Loewy scheme, pictured above, uses a thin white stripe separating a sea-foam green from a forest green. Both of these are attractive possibilities, along with the option of using either streamlined or heavyweight coaches for the Pine Tree scheme, again depending on the year. No matter what way you slice it, that North Coast Limited is a neat passenger train. And I like the name.

    Sealing the deal, the NP and the MILW had a good amount of trackage that ran parallel to one another through Washington State, and also in Montana. So it would be realistic to have those main lines running together, or even on opposite sides of a stream, which could make some neat scenery. The North Coast Limited also traveled those tracks, so I could model ‘meets’ (aka two trains passing one another) between the North Coast Limited and my Milwaukee Olympian Hiawatha. SOLD!

    The only downside to this arrangement is that the NP and the MILW never shared depots.

    Thusly my trackage will be occupied by NP and MILW, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t squeeze in some Great Northern too. They had a short-length commuter train called the Cascadian, which would be simple/cheap to model and provide some further variety. It would not be terribly unrealistic to model the Cascadian taking the occasional detour over the NP mainline, a practice that would happen in real life as the result of track washouts or wrecks.

    I think that wraps up my passenger operations–heaps of MILW, a healthy sprinkling of NP, and just a tiny pinch of GN.

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