Jim’s HO scale Cedar Valley Lumber Rail Road

Apologies to Jim.

He sent me these wonderful pics and narrative weeks and weeks ago.

I missed them.

They’ve just been sat in my inbox gathering dust.

Fortunately for all of us, he gave me a very polite prompt and I was delighted when I found them.

How could I have missed this stunning layout?

“Cedar Valley Lumber Rail Road

During the past year I have read your articles and found them very informative and helpful, and, sometimes quite humorous.

I should share with you and your readers my layout. I have a HO layout that fits into a 12ft.by 9ft. room.

It is a lumber and mining theme set in 1900’s.

It is point to point with an extra two tier helix in the furnace room for continuous running for grandchildren and visitors.

The layout is a design of my own with the name coming from a place I worked at before retirement.

The bench work is 1”x3” wood frame built in sections with 2”x2” legs. The height of the layout is 40”.

Foam sheets are then glued on top. The flex track is glued right on top of the foam board. The track work goes up to height of 46” at the mine and lumber camp.

The town of Cedar Falls has a station and many wood related industries. It is also the engine facility with a shop and a turn table.

lumber model railroad

lumber HO scale model railroad

model train HO scale lumber

model train HO scale lumber

model railroad rustic building

HO scale shop loading platform

The port of Cedar Bay is a shipping center for lumber, goods and ore carriers. One other feature is the lodge at Cedar Point.

HO scale harbor

This station is at Cedar Lake. It is a stopover with a diner for the passengers. Everything you see in this picture is scratch built.

HO scale freight

There are other points of interest, namely, a sawmill, a mine, and a number of other industries.

model railroad sawmill

model train loading hopper

saw mill

Lumber is brought down from the logging sites to the mill, then cut up and then shipped to other industries.

The houses and buildings are all made of wood as you would see in a lumber town. All the structures are either scratch built or wood kits modified to meet the space.

The station is a Fine Scale Miniatures kit modified to fit between the tracks.

The large sawmill and the lodge were scratch built from pictures I found on the internet.

The turntable and engine facility are all scratch built. Nearly all the rolling stock is scratch built.

The rocks are made from moulds and plaster. They are then coloured with acrylic colours and washes.

The water is poured liquid water. The trees are either wound rope on wire or natural plants dried, sprayed and sprinkled with flocking.

The track is code 80 Peco Flex track with Peco turnouts mainly #6’s.

The ballast is my own. I get it from a gravel pit then sift it a number of times until it is the size I want. ( Make sure your ballast has no iron particles in it.)

I then use the larger stones around the layout. This keeps everything the same colour. The same goes true for the ground that shows. It is first painted with latex paint the colour of the ground and then real dirt from the farm and ground foam are sprinkled on top while the paint is still wet.

The locomotives are mainly 2-6-0 Bachmann steam. There are two shays and a climax. The CVL RR also owns a 2-4-4-0 steamer.

The layout is controlled with Digitrax DCC and nearly all have sound.

Below is a sample of what you can do with your paper cut out buildings.

I hope your modellers can take some ideas and use it on their own layouts. It is always nice to share ideas with other folks.

I also do not mind other modellers contacting me for information and help.

Now for the bad news, it had to be torn down as a result of having to move to a new place.

Do not worry folks, I have started over again.

If you wish, I will keep you posted as progress continues.

Al, keep up the good work and thanks again for your site.


Ontario Canada”

My word – a HUGE thank you to Jim for sharing. Can’t wait to see his new masterpiece!

How I could miss a layout like this is beyond me.

It just goes to show, if you’ve mailed me, and I’ve not replied, please bear with me. I’m only human.

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if you want to have a bash at your very own layout, the Beginner’s Guide is here.

Pick a theme, start small, and have fun.

Course I’m biased, but you’ll be glad you made that start.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

44 Responses to Jim’s HO scale Cedar Valley Lumber Rail Road

  1. Bernie W Glynn says:

    You sir, are an artisan. Beautiful work all around.

  2. Mike Street says:

    What an amazing looking layout with superb detail. Hats off to you Jim
    Mike S

  3. Colin Edinburgh says:

    Jim Great layout. Everything to scale and the buildings correctly sited on the ground with no obvious base boards showing. Great scenery and detailing. Cant wait to see your new layout. I’m sure it will be even nicer than the one you just sent in. Are you going to model the same timber logging and processing or a new idea.
    Please send in progress reports.

  4. Brian Messenger says:

    Jim, your layout is absolutely fantastic and reminds me a lot of my layout except mine is HOn3 (Cascade Creek Lumber). Your scenery is brilliant and the locos that you are using, very similar to mine as well as the industries that are supplied with cut lumber. Your scratch built buildings are really great. The harbor scene is very well done. Would love to see a track plan of the above layout. I built my double deck layout, 14ft X 10ft in modules for the simple reason that if I ever have to move, it would be easy to take apart and reassemble in a new situation. It is designed to fit into a standard garage – 20ft X 10ft.
    Keep up the good work and keep us posted of your new layout.
    Brian – the HOn3 guy Knysna RSA 🇿🇦

  5. James Marek says:

    A stunning layout! Extremely well done!

  6. Cary B says:

    Hello Jim, Happy that Al got your layout description and photos on his site. Absolutely beautiful layout indeed.
    The detail is amazing. You should surely keep Al posted on your rebuild progress. Thanks for sharing
    Cary B New Market Maryland

  7. Malcolm Hodgson says:


    Looking forward to seeing your new layout.

  8. Anthony says:

    A wonderful layout, superb craftsmanship.and realism.

  9. Bob Cassidy says:

    Fantastic ! I wish I had that much talent. Really, really a great job.

  10. NJ Mark says:

    What a great layout with fantastic scenery! Truly this was done by a person of great talent. Stay well. Cheers! NJ Mark

  11. Joe says:

    Jim, I have saved all your pictures. Good Lord, what awesome work, and the detail is nothing short of fascinating. You have really captured the essence of your subject in miniature.
    I felt an arrow in my heart when you said you had to tear it all down. That was a blow to a gut who is 71, fighting bone cancer, and wanting to leave something awesome to my grandkids.
    Then you followed with the news you are going to rebuild. Please do keep us informed. It is important to see skilled workmanship like yours as an inspiration.

  12. Mike says:

    Superb, railway modelling at it’s very finest,

  13. Bob Richards says:

    Your scenery, era, and design is fantastic. I can place myself into all of those scenes.

  14. Robert Brady says:

    Everything outstanding! The water fall is so natural looking,makes me want to jump in.Fantastic
    The Critic

  15. Douglas Harley says:

    The layout is one of the best I have evwer seeb-Compares with the Great JOHN ALLENs ayouts of many years ago. Your rockwork kis the best I have seen. I have been in the HOBBY for 65 years and have juged trais in contest You deserve A Best in Show Ri’bbon! Keep up the good work.
    Doug Harley,Arkansas

  16. Mike says:

    Incredible detailing – your skills are unmatched!

  17. Douglas Harley says:

    The layout is one of the best I have ev0er seen-Compares with the Great JOHN ALLENs ayouts of many years ago. Your rockwork is the best I have seen. I have been in the HOBBY for 65 years and have juged trais in contests. You deserve A Best in Show Ri’bbon! Keep up the good work.
    Doug Harley,Arkansas

  18. dana green says:

    Your layout may be the best ever built by hand, Modelers everywhere should see these photos. I would love to see your plans used to build that turntable. I would love to try that. How can I get that design to build my own?’
    66 yo retired guy
    Maine, USA

  19. Clifford Jacobsen says:

    I just built a 30 x40 shop for doing trains full time! I build from scatch out of wood, cedar and cyprus! Looking at your work really encourages me to get started full time again! I’m 72 and time to do what I enjoy! THANK YOU!

  20. Ted Rothstein says:

    Super nice!

  21. Ted Stanuga says:

    Amazing work, thank you!

  22. Ruben Simon says:

    Incredible work! My only comment would be that, if the wall was light blue, it would look like a “finished” masterpiece. Maybe you could do this before getting too much done on your second build. Maybe even some clouds in spots where the hills appear high.

  23. Jim
    Great layout

  24. I wish some modelers would offer a scheduled or appointment only open house so
    some of us that live near to that location could come and visit. A layout like Jim’s is fantastic, and an inspiration for many of us. We would all like to see it.

    Perhaps some of you would consider offering your layouts for a visit on a limited basis.

  25. Marklined N Y says:

    Great layout, I always want to do a lumber co. layout. But I see that yours is wonderful. Hard to do better then yours

  26. Jim AZ says:

    Nicely done. Great layout with realistic scenes. Your modeling skills are quite remarkable. Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to seeing your new layout.

    Jim AZ

  27. Tony, Kitty Hawk NC says:

    Jim- Brilliant! Please do send us updates of your new layout- from the beginning. Thanks for sharing!

  28. John Marshall says:

    Very nice layout. Your attention to detail is unsurpassed. I’m now 84, and getting back into the hobby after many years away. A great deal to catch up on. I would like to pose a general question to your more experienced correspondents. Hydrocal or Sculptamold for scenery?

  29. Steve Ruple says:

    What an awesome layout !!!!, I’m just starting to make a layout and I have seen four sections of your layout that are totally awesome that I’m looking at building into my layout. It won’t be the same, but you have given many good ideas on how I’m going to do it. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful layout.

  30. Charles R. Dickens says:

    WOW… Absolutely beautiful. Nicely done!

    – Boz –

  31. John Davis says:

    This is marvelous! How long were you working on this?

  32. Ben Olson says:

    Jim, Wow, simply awesome! I love the sawmill scene and the curved wood bridge. I’m considering adding a curved wooded bridge to my layout and have been searching for ideas…yours is by far the best looking that I’ve come across.Could you tell me please…Did you make the bridge from scratch or build it from a kit? And if from a kit, where did you purchase it?
    Awesome work….please post another update soon!

  33. Bob P Fair Lawn NJ says:

    Jim, your layout, scenery, and details are the best I have seen to date.
    Pity you had to tear it down, can’t wait to see your next one.

  34. Will in NM says:

    Jim, I’ve always been a fan of logging/lumber and mining railroads so your layout photos were a welcome surprise. Your commitment and skills to scratchbuild so much of the layout is truly amazing. Sad to hear you have had to dismantle such a great layout. My only suggestion regarding your wonderful waterfall scene is that it needs a backdrop that suggests the origins of all that water flowing over the falls. Something like a mountain with streams merging into the river that supplies the falls. Your rock molds and coloring are exceptionally accurate — they look just like the rocks in the Granite Dells where I used to live. The best I’ve ever seen. Keep us posted on how your new layout is progressing — and thank you for sharing such a beautiful layout with us.

  35. Phil Gray says:

    Thank you Al for providing this site so that we can visit such fine layouts as the Cedar Valley Lumber Rail Road. Thank you Jim for sending photos of your “Former Layout”. You are an inspiration to all of us old geysers, Im 82.
    I love this era. Please share with us the progress on your new layout.
    Phil, Tulsa, OK USA

  36. David Ryder says:

    Jim –

    I would love to know about the turn table. Is it a kit? How does it work? It looks really great!

  37. Bruce Nichols says:

    Great pike.
    I would like to see how you built the turntable.

  38. Norm Stafford says:

    I have not responded to many of the great contributions that Al receives. This one though is special. Great job!! My layout is in an upstairs spare room and I had to put in two helixes to get the elevation I needed to model the Hoosac Tunnel as it comes over the Deerfield River in Western Mass.. More about mine later but thanks for yours.

  39. I have been in the hobby fore many wears and do not think I can match your talent level , please let us all see your next build !
    You should show the youngsters in your area and help them develop the skill to do the hobby in their lives !


  40. Mark T. Pianka says:

    Outstanding Layout!!!! STUNNING well done!!!!!!!

  41. Mark T. Pianka says:

    Stunning is the word Great Layout!!!!

  42. Awesome! But, then, I’m partial to (1) steam, and (2) mountains! Great work!

  43. Gary M from Long Island says:

    Just amazing scenery detail……what a fantastic job………I drool over these pics…… I wish I could do half as good as these……

  44. Alabama Mike says:

    Jim, great layout and great talent. Your detail work amazes me. Thanks for sharing

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