Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon is the area at the front center of the layout where I started construction.  These photos will give you some idea on how I built it.

Preparing The Area for the Layout

The first photo shows the left end of the area in my yard where the layout will be built.  You can see where I have killed the grass and marked the position of the landscape block retaining wall.  This particular spot will eventually be the location of the Ophir Loop.  Red Rock Canyon will be located about eighty feet to the right of this spot.  By the way, the oak tree on the right is no longer there.  You can read why in the post titled “Good-bye Old Friend.”

Backfill Behind the Wall

I built the wall and backfilled behind it with the dirt I removed while building the ponds and streams.  I dumped in grass clippings, dead leaves, and any other fill material I could find. I also added a couple of cubic yards of dirt that remained after I leveled the pad for my shop building.  It took almost two years to get this area filled, compacted, and ready to start putting in track.

In the next photo, the entire area between the block wall up to the base of the oak trees used to be at the same level as the lawn to the left of the wall.  The proposed route is indicated with the orange flags.  There is about a hundred feet of the route shown in this photo;  the lower end of it closest to the camera position is the Red Rock Canyon area.  At the top of the photo behind the trees is the Ophir Loop area.  This will be a steady upgrade ranging from 2 to 2 1/2 percent along the route. 

Proposed Route Through Canyon

It’s only about thirty-five feet of canyon, but it gave me a real appreciation for what the prototype builders must have experienced back before they had mechanized equipment. 

Trench Behind Retaining Wall

I installed PVC lattice roadbed along the route marked earlier with the orange flags. (I will add a separate post that describes how I build the PVC lattice roadbed.)  The vertical stanchions had not yet been driven to final depth when this photo was taken.  I removed the landscape blocks from the retaining wall down to the bottom layer and dug a trench behind it for perforated drain pipe.  If I had planned ahead, I would have put in the drainage system before I backfilled behind the wall.

The soil removed from the trench was piled up behind the roadbed to create the upper wall of the canyon.  I  lined the trench with landscape fabric.  You can see where I have started excavating under the roadbed for one of the side canyons.

Drainage Rock in Trench

I filled the bottom of the trench with crushed rock, then laid the perforated drain pipe and added more rock to cover the pipe.  I inserted drain receptacles along the pipe at the locations of the side canyons.

Fabric Above Drainage Rock

I added another layer of landscape fabric on the top of the crushed rock.  The fabric will help keep the spaces around the rocks from clogging with sediment.  After the drainage trench was completed, I reinstalled the block wall and replaced the fill dirt behind it.  The drainage trench will collect water from the area behind the wall and from the outflow of the side canyons.  The drain pipe transfers the accumulated water to a dry well and french drain network under the lawn.

Here is the lower end of the canyon.  The curved turnout is a #10 with a 30 foot radius on the outer leg and a 20-foot radius on the inner leg.  The six-foot long turnout module is setting on the canyon wall ready to be mated to the track module already installed on the stanchions.  Roadbed is my standard PVC lattice method.  Rail is Code 215 aluminum, painted a rusty brown, and hand-spiked to cedar ties.  I painted the PVC a dark brown color before installing the ties and rail.

Lower End of Canyon

After exiting the canyon, the tracks level out and will go past Lake Chloe and through the future site of the town of Sawpit with its lumber operations.  Beyond Sawpit, the track will follow the block wall and begin climbing again.

Here is another view of the canyon area taken while I was stacking rocks and before I bolted the lattice modules to the stanchions.  The bottom layers of the canyon wall are banded rose sandstone.  This particular style is called “4-inch chop”   Above the layered sandstone are various sized chunks of Prague Red Sandstone.  I left plenty of planting pockets for greenery.

Canyon Looking Upgrade

This is a view of the upper end of the canyon.  This particular spot is where the line will cross Red Rock Creek on a 4-foot long wooden trestle.  For now, I just continued my PVC lattice roadbed across the canyon and will come back later and install the trestle.  The turnout in this shot is a #8 and leads to a 18-foot long spur which will serve a mine.  To the right of the photo, you can see the main line continuing upgrade.  This leads to the loop at Ophir.  You can actually see where the long trestle 45A will go.  I still need to bring in about twelve more yards of dirt for this area.

Upper End of Canyon Showing Location of Future Trestle

Here is the progress after I planted a couple dozen small trees and shrubs on the higher area of the canyon.  I stop by all the plant places and buy their rejects — usually near the end of the season or after some bad weather.  I usually get the plants for half price or less.  I bring them home, stick them in one of my planting beds, and forget about them.  If they make it – fine.  If they don’t — well, it’s not a big loss.  Also, there are Eastern Red Cedar trees that seem to sprout up all over the place here in Oklahoma.  I used to pull them out an throw them on the compost pile.  Now, I just transplant them to the layout.  They are good for about five or six years before they outgrow the needed scale size. I did pick up a couple of plugs of Irish Moss and a few mounding Junipers for this planting.  Other than that, everything else was transplanted from my existing beds.  The two trees at the center of the photos are three year old Red Cedars.  You can see that they look different from the Dwarf Alberta Spruces.

Initial Planting in Red Rock Canyon

I mulched around the plants with red rubber mulch made from recycled tires and spread a layer of pea gravel in the bottom of the side canyon.  This gives me a pathway to get into the area and do weeding, trimming, and all the other stuff we hate to do.

Mulch and Pea Gravel Added

I had just washed the area down with a hose to clear off the rock dust right before this photo was taken.  The actual colors of the different materials are a bit more muted and blend together well when dry.

RGS 455 in Red Rock Canyon

The first loco to travel this new strech of track was old #455, my first large scale locomotive.  I don’t have the plow on now, but I’ll put it back on when the snow starts to fall.

RGS 41 in Red Rock Canyon

Next, I ran my C-19 over the new rail.  It is my most finiky loco when it comes to trackwork, but it didn’t have any issues at all.

Me and 455

Here’s a shot of me relaxing in the shade while 455 was checking things out.  It is on the spot where the future Red Rock Creek trestle (Bridge 44B) will be located.  Actually, I was playing around with the momentum controls on the wireless throttle when my wife snapped this shot.  That’s my 24′ x 30′ railroad shop in the background.  It was hot on this day and I had the AC in the shop running full blast (also found a lot of excuses to go in the shop for things.)  The track will eventually work its way back to the shop and the trains will enter through a “doggie-door” to park on storage shelves along the back wall.