I have tried to keep the Locomotive and rolling stock roster for the Continental Northern as appropriate as possible. When dealing with a freelance railroad the trend is sometimes “anything goes”. The bulk of the motive power is 2-8-0’s and 2-8-2 Mikado’s. These wheel arrangements would handle the Midwest flatlands relatively well. The lighter engines are supplemented with 4-8-4 Northerns and 4-8-2 Mountains, as they had to handle the mountainous regions out west. Add in several compounds because: A. other roads used them to get through the Cascades in the Pacific Northwest and B: they are really cool. There are also several GP and SD-7’s as dieselization shows up even on this subdivision.
The thought process is as follows: as the Continental Northern dieselizes, the newer power ( diesels ) are used out west where the lack of needed maintenance and frequent refueling ( water and coal ) are better suited to diesels. The older steam engines are moved to the eastern divisions, where there are shorter runs between towns and maintenance facilities.
The main reason I backdated the layout to 1954 was that inexpensive, high quality steam locomotives became available. Bachmann (bachmanntrains.com) and Athearn (athearn.com) led the way followed by Broadway Limited (broadway-limited.com) with their DCC/ sound equipped locomotives. The hardest thing to give up was the diverse rolling stock of the more modern era’s. It seems as if each commodity has it’s own type of railcar. When I first switched I figured there would be a whole lot of boxcars and not much else. At least I would be able to cabooses on the trains, oh well.
Once I started to research the era more I realized that, yes there would be a whole lot of boxcars, there were a lot more types of cars in use. So yes, there will be boxcars, as well as hoppers for hauling coal, flatcars, tank cars, gondolas and short covered hoppers, which were starting to show up for some commodities. And cabooses.
I have the bulk of the hoppers for coal, I bought data only hoppers from Walthers (walthers.com). I still need to get another set. These are lettered for the Continental Northern. I have looking at picking up about twenty data only boxcars from Accurail (accurail.com), however they have been out of stock. I hope they will do another run soon. These will also be lettered for the Continental Northern. I have been lettering the cars with custom decals from Rail Graphics (railgraphicsdecals.com), I would highly recommend them.
There won’t be any “name” trains running on the railroad, as the run from the Twin Cities to Duluth is only about 120 miles. There will be daily passenger runs, but the trains will be mainly coaches. These will be mostly older, heavyweight cars.