Route Proposal: More Vintage Era & Narrow Gauge

Written by: Adam Palmer

In recent months, thanks in no small part to Partner Programme developers Milepost Simulations and Skyhook Games, Train Simulator has made its introduction into the world of vintage era and narrow gauge railroading. With the introduction of these routes I have pondered the idea of further vintage and narrow gauge routes being released by either DTG or a Partner Programme member.

In an attempt to spark conversation in the community I will provide a selection of vintage and narrow gauge routes that I personally believe would be great addons for Train Simulator. Of course, feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments of this article.

Above: The Northwestern Pacific Railroad was a primarily lumber hauling line from the San Francisco Bay Area north to the redwood forests of Eureka. The line was interesting as it had a wide variety of transport from steam passenger and freight trains to a fleet of ferry boats that regularly crossed the San Francisco Bay to an electric interurban railway, ahead of its time, serving the small communities of Marin County on the lines south end, to a tourist railway which used shay locomotives to climb up to the summit of Mt. Tamalpias. For Train Sim I would suggest the route from Sausalito and Tiburon to the lumber town of Willits CA. Included content probably being the Baldwin-American 2-6-0 steam locomotive, St. Louis Car Co. Steel Interurban, Mt. Tamalpias and Muir Woods Railway shays, passenger cars, and gravity cars, era appropriate freight and passenger stock, SP EMD SD9 for later era operations. The era for the route would be about 1930-60’s. Photographs copyright and reproduced courtesy of sunnyfortuna.com.

Above and Below: The North Pacific Coast Railroad was one of the predecessors to the NWP and was built in the 1870’s to bring lumber from the Russian River down to the San Francisco Bay. Along the way the line ascended steep White’s Hill and ran along the picturesque shores of Tomales Bay before reaching the redwood expanses of the Russian River at Cazadero. The route for Train Sim would run from Sausalito north to Cazadero and would include the Baldwin 4-4-0 steam locomotive plus a selection of passenger and freight cars. The era would be set in the 1910-20’s. Photographs copyright and reproduced courtesy of fineartamerica.com and sparselysageandtimely.com.

Photograph copyright and reproduced courtesy of WPLives.org.

Above: The Sacramento Northern was an electric interurban and freight railroad that operated as a subsidiary of the Western Pacific. The line ran from a cramped yard in Oakland CA east through the Oakland Hills on over 4% grades requiring two locomotives on either ends for safety concerns. The line was home to the only rail ferry under catenary wire which ferried trains from the southern portion of the line to the northern portion which ran to Sacramento and Chico. For a time the SN also carried its passenger trains across the SF Bay Bridge to the trans-bay terminal in San Francisco. For Train Sim, the route would best work if it encompassed the SN mainline from Oakland to Sacramento plus the extension over the Bay Bridge to San Francisco. Included content being Holman Car Co. Interurban with trailing coaches, the GE Steeplecab freight locomotive, and both wood and steel boxcar and caboose. The route’s era would be 1930-50’s. Photograph copyright and reproduced courtesy of WPLives.org.

Above: What would narrow gauge be without the Denver and Rio Grande Western? This particular section of D&RGW’s once expansive narrow gauge network runs from Chama NM to Antonito CO and is today known as the Cumbres and Toltec Railroad. For Train Sim this route would be set in either the 1950’s or in the modern day as the Cumbres and Toltec. Included content being, the D&RGW K-27 2-8-2 locomotives plus era appropriate passenger and freight stock. Photograph copyright Mitch Goldman and reproduced courtesy of RailPictures.Net.

Above: The Milwaukee Road (Chicago Milwaukee St. Paul and Pacific) was once a class 1 railroad operating a transcontinental route from Chicago to the Pacific. One aspect which drew many railfans to its remote trackage in Montana and Idaho was its mainline electrification which took place after WW1 and held onto until 1974. The Train Sim route would cover either from Avery ID to St. Regis MT or to Missoula MT., included content being the GE EF4 “Little Joe” electric, the GE “Boxcab” electric plus an MILW EMD SD40-2 with a selection of appropriate rolling stock including the Milwaukee’s home built bay window caboose. Photograph copyright and reproduced courtesy of Drew Jacksich.

Photograph copyright and reproduced courtesy of gearedsteam.com.

Above: The West Side Lumber Co. was not surprisingly a logging railroad that operated out of Tuolumne California east to the lumber camps in the vicinity of Deadwood CA. Such as many logging railroads the West Side had a roster of 3 truck shay locomotives. The route in Train Sim would include the line from Tuolumne to Deadwood and several lumber camps, included content being the WSLco. 3 truck shay and lugging equipment including the railroads unique style caboose. Photograph copyright John West and reproduced courtesy of RailPictures.Net.

Photograph copyright and reproduced courtesy of alaska.org.

Above: Skagway Alaska’s White Pass and Yukon Railway is regarded as one of the great tourist railways of the world. Running from sea level at Skagway to over 3,000 FT in less than 20 miles at the Canadian Border. The line then continues to Fraser BC and ultimately to Carcross Yukon, a distance of about 70 miles. The route in Train Sim should encompass the entire route from Skagway to Carcross and should include the GE 90 class and ALCo C14 series diesels plus the routes passenger and freight rolling stock. Photograph copyright and reproduced courtesy of klondikegoldfields.com.

Closing remarks

Some of the reasons I think these routes should be in Train Simulator is that these routes really seem to capture the current direction of Train Simulator, with more challenging routes with dramatic scenery and interesting operations. Such as the case with many of my suggestions. Another reason for suggesting these routes is I either live near or have been on many of these routes and therefore represent something near to myself. Also bringing these routes to Train Simulator will bring these routes to a modern day, younger audience where you get to experience the operations of the routes first hand in virtual instead of reading it out of a history book or watching an old VHS tape about it. So it is with great hope that this article will spark conversation about more vintage era and narrow gauge routes in Train Simulator

Adam Palmer

10 Comments

  • you should try and make the German Brigadelok narrow gauge WW1 locomotive and its HFB water tank, or the Baldwin 2-6-2 trench locomotive. i think these would be some very good and very historical locos for train simulator.

  • Just made an account as soon as I read the West Side Lumber Company entry. My family comes from the area and I truly hope the route (or anything with a Shay or Heisler locomotive) comes to be, since I have no desire to buy a previous installment of Train Simulator where modders have already done so. If anybody hears about an upcoming WSLC route please let me know.

  • Living in Southwestern California along the Santa Fe’s historic route between Barstow and Needles at Daggett, I would really be interested in seeing some old mining railroads that ran through California, Nevada and Arizona at the turn of the century between the 1890’s and 1900’s. Particular ones of interest come to mind are the Southern Pacific-narrow gauge (former Carson & Colorado) railroad between Laws and Keeler that ran between the 1880’s and up till 1960, and was the first narrow-gauge railroad in the US to be dieselized. But for a more extreme route, perhaps the railroads that ran between Tonopah, Nevada and Ludlow, California, consisting of the famous Tonopah & Tidewater, which ran right next to Death Valley all the way to Beatty, Nevada, where it ran with the Bullfrog Goldfield Railroad through to Goldfield and Tonopah. Plenty of information and photographs about these railways is readily avaliable through online, and through many famed railway books such as the late great David F. Myrick’s book collection on the “Railroads of Nevada & Eastern California.” I happen to own these and a lot of good information about these railroads for anyone who would be interested in recreating these old historical railroads into the Train Simulator world, and would be happy to support the project whatever the costs and whoever will be interested to work with me on it. 😉

  • In further thought to my last comment, is there any thought into maybe doing one of the 2ft gauge railways such as the Festiniog, or the sandy river and rangly lakes?

  • First I purchased the Clear Creak Route wich was fantastic. I really do hope that they make the D&RGW set over the modern day cubres and toltec route, i’d also vote for the route to wilits, CA with both the standard gauge line with the narrow gauge scenic route up the mountain. My only sugestion is instead of west side lumber how about some east coast logging route say perhaps the line that cass Scenic now operates in West Virginia with 2 diferent shay engines and possibly a climax?

  • These all sound great to me,especially the NorCal railroads I live in the Sierra Nevada foothills,we had a standard gauge rr that went from an interchange with the SP on track one in Auburn ,went into the canyon of the North Fork of the American river (yes that’s the correct and real name lol) dropping in elevation nearly 1000 feet in about 4 miles,I don’t know off hand the exact numbers,but those are close,it crosses the river from Placer county into Eldorado county,and travels a few more miles to the foot of a limestone quarry,it had a concrete arch bridge and a switch back near the top.
    The rr that runs up to the Russian river was the first to build a cab forward locomotive,but what they did was to lift the boiler and cab and spin it 180 and set it back down,the cab was then over the lead truck,with the drivers to the front.,if memory serves me,it had been a 4-4-0,and became a 0-4-4 lol.one photo of it is in a book called ( I believe) “Trains of the Russian River”.

  • Forgive me for going off topic if I am, but some other good ideas for American routes in Train Sim World, particularly east of the Mississippi River, that would be great in vintage settings include the Chicago to Elkhart section of the Water Level Route set in the 1930s, 1940s or 1950s; the Norfolk Division from Norfolk to Crewe (or Petersburg) in the 1950s; the Washington to Martinsburg section of the Baltimore & Ohio’s Mainline in the 1940s; the Port Jervis to Binghamton section of the Erie’s Mainline in the Erie era (before 1961); the Berkshire Line from Danbury to Pittsfield in the 1950s; and the New York to Albany section of the Water Level Route set in the 1980s with the parallel West Shore Line/River Subdivision from Albany to Jersey City. I’ve gone into greater detail for most of these routes I mentioned in proposal articles I’ve written about them, but I thought I’d bring it up in this discussion too.

  • Interesting photo of 485. This was a C&TS charter, as 485 was the only one of the 10 K-36s to be scrapped, after backing into the Salida, CO turntable pit. I would love some D&RGW or the GWR’s Vale of Rheidol.

  • You have some great ideas for new routes. Although there’s a chance that Dovetail Games’ next American routes will be made for the Unreal Engine 4-made Train Simulator, these are some good ideas for routes they should make for it. Let me go through each route individually on why I think they’re good. The San Francisco Bay Area routes would be great because Dovetail Games’ next California route should take place in the San Francisco Bay Area (they made two routes in the High Sierras, one with Los Angeles to the California Coast and one in the Inland Empire and Mojave Desert) and the San Francisco Bay Area had an interesting variety of trains in the steam era with steam locomotives, electric switcher locomotives, trolleys and interurban EMU cars. The Cumbres & Toltec would be a great route because it would be a narrow gauge Denver & Rio Grande route (they made Soldier Summit, which is standard gauge) and it takes place in two states where the route crosses the New Mexico-Colorado state line multiple times, plus the line is still used today as a tourist railroad that still preserves the flavor of the era. Milwaukee Road’s St. Paul Pass route from Avery, ID to Missoula, MT be a great standard gauge mountain pass route because it was electrified and since the route was ripped up in the 1970s, the route can only be made as a vintage route. Finally, the White Pass and Yukon route would be great because it takes place in both the American state of Alaska and the Canadian province of British Columbia; like the Cumbres and Toltec, it’s a narrow gauge route that still keeps the steam era style and equipment intact, but it also has multiple nations in it since the line also goes to Canada. So that’s what I have to say about these proposed routes, good job on this article.

    • Thanks for the good words. I do hope these routes get made and if not I’ll try to make at least one myself.

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