"Truckee 1927" Model Railroad

Model Railroad Layout

In Spring of 2023, TDRRS began a project to develop a historical operating scale model of Truckee and the surrounding area in the heyday of steam railroading. The goal of the model is to bring to life a particularly colorful era in Truckee’s history and to illustrate the important roles played by the area’s railroads and the industries they supported.

After consideration of several alternatives, we chose HO scale and the year 1927 for our model. HO scale (1:87) provides a nice compromise between detail and scope, and the largest variety of commercially available model trains and structures. The year 1927 allows us to model a wide range of steam locomotives, from 2-6-0 “moguls” to powerful cab forward “mallets”. It’s also the year after Southern Pacific upgraded the Tahoe City line to standard gauge and began promoting tourist passenger service to Lake Tahoe. Modeling the earlier Lake Tahoe Railway and Transportation Company’s narrow gauge passenger trains would have been fun, but standard gauge allows us to run a much wider variety of commercial rolling stock and to feature interchange operations at Truckee. The choice of 1927 also allows us to model the standard-gauge Hobart Southern and narrow-gauge Sierra Nevada Wood & Lumber (SNW&L) logging operations north of town, and Hobart Mills when it was still a bustling mill town.

Ultimately, our goal is to model Truckee, the line to Tahoe City, Hobart Mills, and the narrow-gauge SNW&L logging railroads on a layout of about 1000 square feet. Since we lack a permanent facility of that size, and recognize that building a layout of that size could take several years, we decided to start with a portable layout and to build it in phases. The first phase, planned for Spring 2024, will be a 10’ x 23’ modular layout featuring downtown Truckee, the roundhouse and balloon track, a staging yard, and a double-track oval for continuous operation. Later phases will incorporate Tahoe City, Hobart Mills, logging, and the Truckee Canyon.

We have a small group of railroad modelers working on the key structures, modular benchwork, track, and electrical circuitry, but we could use more help and would welcome the participation of TDRRS members and non-members alike. If you’d like to get involved, drop us a note at model_railroad@tdrrs.org.