The Damnit 2 railroad declares bankruptcy

Today’s update is in the guise of a news story.

If you want to get up to speed, Terry’s last post is in the middle of this one.

“DAMNIT2 RAILROAD DECLARES BANKRUPTCY

Idaho USA Dec 31 2020 — Owners of the Damnit2 scenic railroad announced today that would cease effective Jan 1 2021.

The action affects all aspects of the railroad which began in 2018. Officials blamed it on the current Covid 19 virus and said state and local regulations made it impossibe to continue. The rolling stock and structures are expected to be auctioned off in Februrary.

THE HISTORY

The railroad, originally part of the NW route, was built at the turn of the century to haul freight over the Siskiyou Mountains between Saracemento California and Portland Oregon.

During construction it suffered major delays and cost over-runs due to frequent strikes by workers. Work during this period resulted in sub-standard construction leading to washouts, bridge failures and a tendancy for trains to fall off the track once in a while. Officials called them minor problems.

A bypass route was built to the east of the previous route in the late 1920s providing easier grades and lower mountain ranges and the original line was shut down completely in the 1930’s and went though several owners during the remaining years of the 20 th century.

During that time the maintenance of way department, with a reduced staff, attempted to make repairs to the famous Hurry Tunnel which wound itls way through a 30 mile mountain section. While the tunnel still exists, rock falls and lack of maintenance has made it dangerous to travel.

An earthquake caused by blasting in an attempt to eliminate part of the tunnel, destroyed the round-house at the bottom of the hill and permanently damaged the turntable in the
rail yard. Although repairs were made to the roundhouse and out buildings, most sat vacant until 2018 when the entire operation was purchased by Damnit Limited.

THE PLAN

Damnit Limited decided to use the track, land, and buildings for a scenic passsenger railroad operation and proceeded to acquire used cars from the Southern Pacific, Northern Pacifc, Great Northern Railroads, which were legacy lines in the area. They were refurbished and staged in the valley to await weekend railroaders.

The company managed to obtain the Southern Pacific’s famous Shasta Daylight passenger train with its unique triple unit dining, kitchen, coffee shop car and billed it as the most beautiful train in the world.

It was determined later that the cars required a minimum of 22 inch radius track and could not handle the sharp 18 inch track. It was written off and still remains on a siding having never made a journey on the Damnit 2.

“The idea”, said railroad president Terry Miller, “was to recreated the hey-day of passenger travel and run the individual trains from the main station in the valley to what had become a ruined ghost town at the top of the mountain.”

“we expect our visitors to experience the thrills and chills of the route, have dinner on the train and then return to the valley later in the evening. Our plans included a ski train for winter travel and excursions” said Miller.

Initial response was positive, however the cost of the Shasta Dayling along with the 2020 shutdown of the country and later strict rules governing gatherings by the public due to Covid–19 produced no revenue and left the company teetering on bankruptcy.

THE SPIN

In an attempt to over come that, the company turned to land sales in a large valley south of the railroad operation. It was developed to hold the excess train cars (“if they cant ride the Shasta they can at least walk through it” Miller complained).

To generate money, they create a new modern town. Initial sales of lots and land were brisk based on pictures of the area supplied by the railroad featuring modern buildings, shops,
stores, etc.

An on-site visit to the valley however revealed the Damnit2 company had purchased old one-sided building fronts used in making Hollywood movies and propped them up on the bare property to give it the appearance of a fully operating community.

Potential investors also noticed the absence of any trees, bushes,,etc anywhere in the valley or on the mountain sides.

Promoters were quick to explained passengers were riding on history because all the trees had been cut down during the original building of the track and used as sleepers for the rails “They’ll grow back” was the official explanation and the unobstructed view from the train was touted as not “having anything in the way to block the view”.

Also an advantage, according to the railroad “There is absolutely no surface water, water falls, ponds etc because water needs would be drawn from a purported underground aquifer thus avoiding potential water hazards and eliminating mosquitos during the summer and ice skating accidents during the winter. There was no aquifer.

Several large plastic pelicans and other bird species were installed for aesthetic purposes and pointed out that there was no worry of bird droppings on buildings, statues, or residents.

In addition to the bridges, tunnels and viaducts for the track, the new owners decided to construct an interurban line which would take residents from their palatial valley homes to the main railway station at the foot of the mountain.

Because of space and terrain this involved a complex series of track cross-overs and switches at one point which in turn kept engineers on their toes in order to avoid derailment.

That small section came to be know as Hell and several small commercial buildings and way stations were built at the crossing. A large festival complete with bands and banners officially opened the new line with the slogan: “Take the Damnit 2 Hell”

THE TRUTH

I really did build the Damnit 2 starting in 2018 after many months of track planning.The one requirement was there would never be a reverse loop requiring polarity switches
After completing the initial mountain section I realized the railroad really didn’t go anyplace or have a purpose. The original section looked like this:

I asked for help and ideas from Al’s followers and got a bunch of ideas and thoughts and then added on a 5×10 section and incorporated them into the “valley” section. It now looks like this:

The HO layout is 15 by 6 feet and is DC powered.

The Shasta Daylight story is true and if I had looked at the required radius I wouldn’t have spent a lot of money on the cars.

I believe the triple articulated food unit was the only one of it’s kind on U.S, railroads and there’s nothing more depressing that watching it take a 18 inch curve & fall apart.

I figured the stay-at-home orders during 2020 would allow me enough time to finish the whole layout but frankly I ran out of interest.

I like to create layouts and lay track but running trains and switching cars just doesn’t interest me.

One thing I had never done before was use cross-over track and the ‘hell’ section created space and radius problems I had never experienced before. But it works and although it is a hell of a arrangements, it’s kind of cool.

Terry

Idaho USA”

A big thanks to Terry – his ‘news’ story did raise a smile.

He also touches on a big part of this hobby:

Some folk just like the scenery side of it. Some just like to run trains on kitchen tables.

What’s important is you do whatever you enjoy, whatever that may be.

That’s all for today folk.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if you want to stop dreaming and start doing, the Beginner’s Guide is here.

Remember, it’s the start that stops most people…

Best

Al

PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

22 Responses to The Damnit 2 railroad declares bankruptcy

  1. Rube says:

    🤣 Thanks for the great story! Hope 2021 goes better for you.

  2. Peter Bayley-Bligh says:

    Sounds like a familiar story but nevertheless entertaining – thanks.

  3. James Marek says:

    I respectfully suggest that instead of using your extra free time to write a fictional history of a model railroad that you try some volunteer work. Seems to me that would be a much more worthwhile endeavor.

    James

  4. Stephen Fetzer says:

    Damn turntables. They dictate all the wrong turns, until they become useless. I have one setting on a shelf without future prospects.

  5. Carl says:

    loved the story line! You ever thought about writing? That aside you may be able to build layouts for others who don’t like the construction process but would be willing to pay someone to do it for them.
    Best to you and whatever future endeavor you decide on!

  6. i like the story. sounds like some of the stories i got when i was working the street as a cop. answer for every thing. nice lay out.Thanks!

  7. John P White says:

    Great story! Kind of reminds me of some of the plights the old narrow gauge railroads in the mountains back in the late 1800’s. I have a mountain cabin very near the right-of-way of the old Denver South Park and Pacific Railroad that crossed the continental divide through a tunnel at over 12,000 feet, at the time the highest railroad in the United States. I celebrate that old railroad by broadcasting high volume sound down into the little ghost town of Alpine using a soundtrack of the Durango to Silverton engines. I’ve been doing that for over forty years – every Saturday night during the summer at 9 p.m. the “Ghost Train to Gunnison” makes an appearance.

  8. Terry Miller says:

    Thanks for the comments guys. It was fun to come up with an excuse to turn the train room back into the family room and use the fireplace without fear of starting a wildfire.
    In response to James & Carl’s comments, I have been involved in multiple volunteer groups over the past 15 years following my retirement as a reporter, editor, and tv newscaster for local and national tv stations and newspapers so the Damnit story was easy to construct.
    As far as John’s Ghost Train activity, THAT’S SOOOO COOL!

  9. Rich Collins says:

    Great Story !! Loved reading it. Ignore the naysayers and “continue to march” as one of my sergeants used to tell me.

  10. george zaky says:

    Terry
    We kind of think alike.
    If the yellow route to the ghost town is the one with the 22″ radius then relegate that track & route to Shasta only- Add some stations for a new story and theme which I am certain you can do. When you cant solve a problem -change the problem. Shasta avoids Disasta- a town of Ill repute. LOL
    All the tight radii should be for freight, lumber, small passenger cars with shays and climax engines and a whole new story. TaDa
    Your sense of humor is a great attribute and a means to creativity. Keep creating.
    Stay healthy & safe
    George from LI, NY

  11. Gary M from Long Island says:

    Terry….. great story and impressive layout. Track plan is great but looks very complicated. Great job.

  12. Gosh, I figured there were no trees near the town because it was in the path of periodic avalanches.

  13. CARL ANGDAHL says:

    Fantastic story. So real. I was getting ready to pack my bags. Have you considered writing a full length story like this one? I too became bored with my outdoor layout as it was 5 years in the making, without running a train once. I walked away for more than a year. Then, one summer day, I looked at it, thought what a project to be just laying there. I thought, why not. I need something to do, so back to work, with a new enthusiasm. Just saying………

  14. Randy Geisick says:

    Great story Terry. If you want, you can join us at the Magic Valley Model Railroads club at the Twin Falls County Fairgrounds in Filer. We are actively working on rebuilding our HO and G layouts. The O gauge is mostly built, just working on the landscaping. N is mostly done, just needs delails.

    Randy in Kimberly ID

  15. Paul F Verhil says:

    An extremely telling story which in all honesty, faithfully illustrates why people’s of all races, colors, and creeds should take heed at the terrible costs and disappointment incurred by vulture capitalists using other peoples money, talent, and time like play toys to amuse and entertain themselves all at the not so affluent peoples expense and furthermore, it’s most probable we the people, who’ve worked so diligently, with loyal disregard for our own needs and well being, for the company we’ve put all our trust and values into, only to have the rug pulled out at a time of utmost vulnerability- – – I say they be DAMNITED to hell and propose starting anew by collectively using our strength in numbers, fortitude of purpose, and faith in the ultimate moralities of our brothers and sisters to undermine the track in certain strategically located areas until, and only then will we the people who’ve been unfairly DAMNED receive the justice and judicatory outcomes so deserving of we, the loyal servants to and of a higher cause!

  16. Gary says:

    A lot of fun to read

  17. I enjoyed Mr. Paul F Verhil’s commentary, and to further his cause, I have included for his use a few “periods,” as his keyboard clearly lacks them.
    ……………….
    As to Al and all the other modelers, I wish you all health and happiness, and extra wide radii, in this new year.
    George

  18. great story and a good start on your layout thats going to be a nice one happy
    new year and keep swinging at it you’ll get it done

  19. John from GA says:

    A wonderful look at an effort to build a large model railroad. Also illustrates the need for good advance planning.

  20. Scott J says:

    I’ve been through the crossover obsession, but because of my desire to run multiple trains on separate mainlines, I eliminated them, giving over to using turnouts instead. I started out with an 8 x 4′ table and have recently doubled the real estate in the basement (at my wife’s consent, of course), with an “L”-shaped arrangement, and now have three levels of N scale fun.

    My message to Paul…keep your politics to yourself, sir…this is a blog for fun, not for venting your frustrations that have nothing to do with the hobby.

  21. Terry Watkins says:

    Terry, awsome! Your great at doing what all of us should do. Enjoy ourself and don’t let folk’s bother ya. I’m sure you handel that quit well. I really enjoy what you write about and never stop. Your train has your time in doing a history layout. With your pass work is at a end, just plain have fun. Enjoy it! Your dam good at it!

  22. Don Foster says:

    @ John P White. My Great Uncle Augusta Adolphas Latham was postmaster general and a track crewman at Marshall Pass, CO. I believe that is the location of the highest narrow gauge railroad in the continental U.S. When they pulled out the tracks, Uncle Dolphy bought the buildings and lived there for years, even during the winters. He was a real mountain man. He retired from the railroad and his free pass allowed him to travel and stay with relatives. We passed many wonderful hours together.

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