Santa Fe line train layout

Dan’s been back in touch with his Santa Fe line train layout:

“The Santa Fe Railroad in Colorado and New Mexico is an HO scale layout. It is scenically located in the southwest.

The 35 by 15 layout represents the double track Santa Fe mainline.

The era is late 50’s and early 60’s. With modelers license it has a ruling grade of 3.5 % that represents the grade of Raton Pass and a branch line like the line to the Grand Canyon.

The branch line is also part of the old single tracked mainline with sharp curves and a 4 % grade.

The layout is 99.9 % finished. It uses block control and DC power from walk around Hogger power packs. There are about 450 freight cars and about 85 passenger cars.

The motive power is mostly Athearn “Blue Box” and some A-B-B-A passenger and A- B-B-A F unit Genesis sets, and several Model Power E units.

Other manufactures are also found on the layout including two BLI 4-8-4 Northern locos. All locos are powered because the freight trains are usually 30-40 cars long and the passenger trains run 10-
15 cars.

The main town of Sharon Springs (wife’s name) could be Albuquerque.

This allows some engine facilities and switching opportunities and is a division point. This is also the interchange with the Rio Grande near Douglas Junction at Bovine. Douglas Junction is the junction with the old main line.

Sharon Springs is also the starting point for the operation of the service to Burnt Lake a resort ala the Grand Canyon.

The resort can be reached only via train. There is no road access. The resort passes over a 600 foot long curved trestle reaching heights of over 100 feet as it passes thru Rainbow Canyon. The
canyon gets its name from the colored rock formations.

The main line passes the town of Almost. The name is because it is near the summit of the layout. The town is experiencing a boon because of the discovery of low sulfur coal.

The mine, Almost Mine is the home of “all most clean coal.” It is the home of Almost Fresh Donuts and the Almost Christian Church (with a wedding taking place).

The train station at Almost has an addition attached to accommodate the increased traffic.

I am a scenery person and enjoy doing the scenery. I really like all phases of the construction process.

The layout was not built as an “operating layout” as I preferred a scenery-based layout. I have opportunities to operate on several nearby layouts.

I have a run through and staging yard as a lower level reached by way of 3.5% grades. This simulates the ruling grade on the ATSFs passenger line.

I can store 6 complete trains in the staging yard with the main line trackage being separate. The trains can then appear as needed.

I have posted many photos of this layout as well as The Inland Pacific for which I did 90% of the scenery, The Boston & Maine for which I built all of the layout and The Great Northern for which I helped on the design, construction and scenery. These can be found by searching santafedan on

Santa Fe line train layout trestle bridge

The workers on the trestle have been replacing damaged railings at the fire barrels

HO scale construction workers

The town is having a building boom

HO scale station

The station at Almost is getting an addition as the local coal mine is doing very well

model railroad icing platform

Working at the icing platform

model rairoad cola

Loading RC Cola

HO scale market

Busy at the market

Santa Fe line train layout chromite line

There is a chromite mine on the railroad. The ore is used to make chrome plating.

HO scale painters

The grain elevator is having a paint job. (On my layout I do not do a lot of weathering…personal preference.) This to demonstrate for the complainers (they do exist) that I do know how to do weathering.

Santa Fe line train layout silos

The silos are Pringle cans wrapped in teletype paper (yellow) and sprayed with a gray color.

HO scale church

Notice the costume (US at least) of tin cans trailing the car. They are solder drops on a wire.

HO scale crossing guard

The crossing guard lives in the shed. He is full time as he is needed when the train to Burnt Lake arrives. It will be shown in another photos later. The van is owned by the hotel and uses to bring in the visitors. There is no road in or out of the resort. To help set the time period the stop sign is yellow, the standard up until the late sixties when our signs became the universal red.

HO scale store

The figures in the store windows have been trimmed to fit. I have arms and legs all over.

HO scale police car

I have friends, also model railroaders, who are police. Therefore, the doughnuts.

Sant Fe line train layout coal bins

The coal bins are a Fine Scale Miniature kit. The pickup truck is a resin model I painted.

Santa Fe line train layout bridge

A hobo camp below the trestle in Rainbow Canyon

Sant Fe line train layout loco

The ever present wave

Santa Fe line train layout scenery

I had a professional photographer friend. I put him on the layout taking movies. (He was a little over weight.) The “camera” is made from KD coupler box parts. From this photo you can’t see the path her took to get this vantage point. I never put figures anywhere unless there is a way to get them in place.

HO scale late night loading

HO scale boys waving

I chose the Santa Fe for several reasons. First, I guess was the influence of Lionel trains Santa Fe passenger trains.

Second, I have ridden the ATSF route several times. I rode the el Capatain in 1959 and the AMTRAK version three times. I have driven the Passenger route from Kansas City to Needles California.

Third, I like the scenery.

Sant Fe Dan”

A big thanks to Dan for sharing his Santa Fe line train layout.

I know I’ve said it before, but it’s funny how just naming the places and scenes adds so much life to a layout.

Really looking forward to seeing more of Dan’s work.

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if today is the day you join in the fun and get started, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

PPS More HO scale train layouts here if that’s your thing.

24 Responses to Santa Fe line train layout

  1. Forest Driver says:

    Just love the doughnut sign, well almost.

  2. robert dale tiemann says:

    you know its like stepping into a time capsule. love the bridges the 57s everything, very nice job.

  3. Tom says:

    I love the detail.

  4. REV. CHARLES W. REESE says:

    fantastic pictures. it seems this was a time i was almost there.

  5. Denny McKernan says:

    Every single picture, I would sit here and say , that is perfection and then show it to my wife. Loved the wedding and especially the first car I’ve ever owned. A yellow 57 Chevy. The trestle bridges are awesome. Now this is a hobby,(not work) well done.

  6. Terry says:

    Wonderful, outstanding detail!

  7. george zaky says:

    Santa Fe Dan
    Awesome job Dan. You do your scenery any way you want. No critic can do better.
    You brought me back to a time when it was great, simpler, and I saw things that my grand kids will never see. 57 chevy- prettiest car made.
    Almost Mine had to compete with my Yurall Mine in upstate NY for the cold North east states and Yurall was closer. LOL.
    Please keep us posted.
    Big Al
    Cheers bro !! Good one 😁

  8. GaryM from Long Island says:

    Dan….. great work…… love the men on the scaffold and the wedding scene with the cans

  9. Robert Brady says:

    I see the old lady peeking out the window above the market. Good job nice layout.
    The Critic

  10. Don says:

    love the trestle bridge & all that makes it look like the past, great job.

  11. TJK says:

    Dan, excellent display of craftsmanship……

  12. Brian Olson says:

    Love the small scenes on this huge layout. And that trestle bridge!

  13. Gary says:

    Wonderful attention to detail

  14. Larry Schweitzer says:

    Impressive modeling. I like the Cops/Donuts bit. The paint on the pickup in the coal bin scene is great, needs to be done to other cars & trucks.
    A model RR should look like a photo of the real thing. Real life is dirty, shows wear that is often lacking on the models. An air brush or dry brush technic does it.
    Over all a very impressive model.

  15. John Bullock says:

    The fellows in the midst of painting the grain elevator has given me an idea for my layout. Many thanks for sharing your wonderfully detailed layout!

  16. Richard H Chapple Sr says:

    Oooooh yes….this is a wonderful fun fun fun layout, enjoyed it all!!!
    Great display Dan, so much to take in, enjoyed the narrative as well.
    Thanks Al for posting Dan’s creation and you Dan too for taking the time and effort to send to Al.

  17. Norman Rosen says:

    Beautiful layout, but where are the trains?

  18. Benjamin Wright says:

    What an amazing layout! The sign on the donut shop made me laugh. Great job! 👏

  19. Will in NM says:

    Thanks for sharing more photos of your wonderful layout Dan. I love all the details in your scenes that bring the layout to life. As to weathering, it’s your layout so do whatever you like. If you prefer things new and shiny, then don’t weather them. I prefer a little light weathering on my rolling stock.

  20. David Hudgins says:

    I like the deep detail, not just out front.

  21. David McElwain says:

    Well this is an outstanding layout with all the details I love. For me a model railroad represents many things, one of those components is the theatrical element. Great job.

  22. Jim AZ says:

    Nice. Great detail, especially the rock formations. Ya gotta love ceiling tiles to create rock strata. And the color is spot on. Thanks for sharing.

    Jim AZ

  23. William J Donlen III says:

    We had a single track branch of the Reading RR run right behind our home, up to the colliery at the end of town In Schuylkill County, Pa.. That train ran every day except Sunday or when on strike of my first eight years and for at least another 15 years after we moved. Uncle Tommy bought me my first lionell Steasmer when I was 11 MONTHS old. still have it, still runs. These early events influenced my whole life towards toy trains. I have a BUNCH waiting for the platform display layout. I also worked for both RES Express and the Penn central RR for 2 summers in and after last year of college. Travelled Amtrak several timees cross country and will do so again. This display reminds me of so much of those days and events in my past. THANKS!!

  24. Gary Pierce says:

    Love your attention to detail! Very Nice 👌

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