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A Milwaukee WI based HO gauge model railroad club

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Views around NAPM         Click on picture for full screen image
Updated 7/4/2011

Loading Coal
Loadin' Coal: There's coal in them thar hills!
At the west end of the river line, three big N&W six axle diesels switch the coal mine. (In reality this is a loads in/out manuver from the power plant facility in the ajacent aisle, as the train passes through a opening in the backdrop wall).
Photo by Paul Chycinski.
CNW at Valley
Small Town Stop:  A Chicago and Northwestern local makes a stop at the small station of Valley along the single track "River Line". It is summer and there is not much activity early  this morning.

Photo by: Paul Chycinski
City of San Francisco and the Coast
                                Daylight at Depot
Action at Union Station: The City of San Francisco and Coast Daylight prepare to depart with a CNW 400 train in the background having just arrived. The background area is the industrial district with warehouses and manufacturing buildings. Further to the depot, is the REA and Express buildings.
Photo By: Craig Willett
SP Coast Daylight along the River
East Bound: The eastbound Coast Daylight of the Southern Pacific glides effortlessly along the river line. The red and orange train stands out from the lush green foliage along the river line.

Photo By: Craig Willett
City of San Francisco and the
                                California Zephyr
The Place to Be: The City of San Francisco is speeding across the double track river bridge as it heads east to Chicago, while below, the California Zephyr snakes along the banks of the river heading west on the single track main.  Meanwhile some of the local boys are launching a boat into the river to enjoy the day fishing.
Photo By: Paul Chycinski
Programming Station
Programming Station: Alex Sansone (standing), gives some advice to Jeff Otto as Jeff programs his ICG Geep. The Programming station is off layout, and supported by a laptop PC running JMRI Decoder-Pro. Each member is assigned a two-digit prefix code for their four-digit locomotive address. This ensures that no two members will have a address conflict.      Photo By: Dan Rehorst
Autumn on the Soo 1

Autumn on the Soo
Autumn on the Soo Line: These two photos showcase the autumn scene near the towns of Jewell and Independence.

You may note that the road passing the barn seems to go to infinity. With some crafty use of actual rural photos on the backdrop wall and careful blending of the foreground scenery one can create the illusion of depth. This concept was introduced by David Karkoski in the industrial area, and adapted for use in this location by Mike Sosalla.

The train is modeled and photographed by John Decker.

With modest amounts of weathering to the locomotives and equipment, the scene comes alive with the colors of fall.
Empire Builder clears Tower UT
Inbound Builder:  The sky suggests a summer storm brewing as Bob Zoeller’s westbound Empire Builder eases to a stop for its scheduled reverse move into the club’s main station to the left.  The move is controlled by the Union Terminal Interlocking Tower between legs of the wye.    Notice the backdrop between the nearest buildings behind the engines and the gray panel truck.  The structures themselves have become their own background using an ingenious photographic technique being pioneered by Dave Karkoski, who also built the buildings, installed the scenery, and took the photo of it all! 
Lull at Union Terminal
The Lull:   The Union Terminal concourse in the distance is virtually deserted.  It’s after 2:00 AM, and things are relatively hushed.  The muffled hissing of steam and an occasional closing door gently echo through the train shed.  In the foreground two REA delivery trucks quietly accept new loads.  They’ll be gone shortly though: at just about 3:00 AM the “fast mail” will arrive, and with it a din of commotion --  noise, rushing carts, clouds of steam, workers straining to hurry, and the unmistakable smell of diesel fumes.  Enjoy the calm while it lasts!

Milw FP45 & ATSF F7
Raring To Go!  Two colorful stallions wait impatiently in the engine servicing facilities adjacent NAPM’s busy Union Terminal.   Mike Sosalla’s Santa Fe F7 No. 43 will back in and onto its famous stainless steel Super Chief as Rick Zehetner’s Milwaukee Road FP45 No. 5 idles until train time for the Afternoon Hiawatha.  Passenger trains have been integral to NAPM’s operating sessions for years, but now, with so many new detailed and affordable models available, the outlook for dedicated passenger sessions is improving!
Dan At Roundhouse
Making it Bigger   Kit-basher Dan Christiansen adjusts the “peek-a-boo” boiler bay on the Ottawa roundhouse.  The structure was originally a Kibri (European-style) 1890’s-vintage kit sized for small steam engines.   Dan “Americanized” the architecture by stripping off the gingerbread decoration and adding 1930’s-type brick extensions to two of the three bays.  The result exhibits the “added-to” look most roundhouses showed as steam locomotives grew in size and complexity.
GN on Highbridge
River Running   Train 81, a westbound freight with Mike Sosalla’s GN GP20’s in the lead snakes across the tight bend in the Sandsoft River on its way to our major division point, Fleming Yard. There the train will be taken apart and reclassified during its scheduled two-hour layover.  You may recognize this scene from the cover of the 2000 Walthers HO catalog.  Mike Javoroski originally did the most of the scenery and Jim Newell kit-bashed the bridge.  Over the years others have added new touches, like Alan Houtz who made the river come alive with rapids.  The NAPM river aisle is a good example of how layout detail can be made better and better over time.
Soo Line Meat Train
Makin' Bacon  George Thelen’s Soo Line F units cruise slowly westbound with the empty meat reefers of a unit train through corn fields and prairie grass created by members Alex and Tom Sansone.  Here seen approaching Altoona and PI Tower, these cars will leave the west end of our railroad at Marango, but will return several operating sessions later with a higher priority designation.
George Ballasting
The Ground Plane
Scenery detail expert George Thelen doesn’t work quickly, but no one’s complaining!  His meticulous efforts are worth the wait!   “GT” and photographer Mike Sosalla are currently detailing the ground plane east of Independence/Altoona, working their way westward spreading dried and natural materials like finely sifted “traffic bond” limestone and real “dirt”.  Once GT gets everything ‘just so” a fine mist rain of water and white glue is used to fix it in place.  Keep it up, George!
BIG Power. A brand new Southern Pacific U50D draws the attention of a passing railfan who’s lucky enough to have his camera with him.  Wearing SP’s “bloody nose” livery, the locomotive halts a Baron Moving truck in its tracks as it edges across an unguarded crossing in East LaSalle.   One of the most scenic parts of the club’s high speed double-track main is overhead just beyond the brewery building.

Old Depot
FORGOTTEN BUT NOT GONE.  The fate of many a late-19th Century station is commemorated in Dave Karkoski’s super-detailed boarded-up station at East LaSalle, an often-unnoticed part of that now-famous part of the NAPM layout.  Though “ELA” was featured as the cover story of the March, 2003 issue of Model Railroader, this old building didn’t even get billing on the site map.  It stands forlornly just west of Zaremba Coal.  Next time you visit, take a look -- it’s one of the best models on the layout.
Lots of Action. Entirely oblivious to goings-on at the brothel next door, a Pennsy switching crew emerges from beneath the Weber Fire Door Manufacturing Co. plant on its way to retrieve empty coal hoppers from the brewery’s boiler plant.  “Action” at the saloon, originally an abandoned building as Dave Karkoski first conceived it, was a last wish from long-time “Proto” Treasurer and unofficial tour guide Duane Wright, who left us in July 2006.  The girls are overdoing it a bit, but that’s just as Duane had always described the scene to visitors.

And Many More Miles to Go... NAPM stalwart Gary Lenz spends part of his Thursday work-night painstakingly adding a few more feet of ballast to the roadbed near the MarangoYard cutoff near what we know as Deer Park.  Gary’s using a soft-bristle brush to tease the tiny pieces between the ties.  Next he’ll spray a gentle mist of detergent-laden water, then finish up with a drenching of diluted white glue that will cement things in place hard as a rock!  Even after 21 years of continuous construction progress, there’s still plenty of track and scenery left to finish and detail.   As Gary always says, “Patience, boys, we’re getting there!”

Depot at
Inviting To The Traveler  Nightfall in front of NAPM’s Union Station foreshadows the club’s future plans to institute full-blown night operating sessions.  On the platforms outside the terminal’s brightly-lit interior spaces dozens of realistic scratch-made lamps illuminate platforms between waiting streamliners.  Beyond them operating signals will show the crews the way to and along the main line.  Emerging electronic technologies including reliably-lit passenger-car interiors, ever more realistic micro LED signals, street and structure lighting, and subtle overhead lighting will bring the club’s operations to a new dimension of realism.  In the ideal, the biggest challenge may be avoiding collisions between real people in the darkened room!
Trainshed at Night
The Rush To Board!  A seemingly endless parade of passengers moves beneath Union Station’s shimmering platform lights toward one of seven streamliners in this night-time scene at NAPM’s Union Station.  The trains, each the favorite of a different club member, occupy only half the tracks in the cavernous train shed.   Prototype passenger station operations are being studied.  Full-scale terminal operating sessions will soon be in the planning stages.
Train Time at the Depot
Train Time!  
A sudden lull at the concourse newsstand is sure indication that train time for the “400” is near.  You can imagine the staccato sounds of slamming step wells and vestibule doors as the roar of the powerful diesels replaces the quiet drone of echoing voices and footsteps in the cavernous shed. 
East Bound Steam Freight
Eastbound Freight  
A dusty Wabash mike heads a long freight out of East LaSalle on the portion of the road that’s single track during one of the twice-monthly operating sessions.  The freight headed for the club’s main freight classification yard at Fleming, where all cars are sorted for predetermined destinations on and off the railroad.
Super Chief Arriving
The Chief Arriving  The club’s crack streamliner slows westbound  in preparation for backing in at the club’s sprawling stub-end Union Terminal where a two-hour layover is part of the operating scenario.  Fine-tuned computerized switches controlled from the operator’s hand-held DCC paddle allow the engineer to slide his train into any of the dozen train-length tracks that reside beneath the massive steel trainshed.
Chief River Crossing River Crossing 
The Chief glides across the kit-bashed multi-span bridge over the Sandsoft River.  The realistic sandstone bluffs and their crowning trees were the very first scenery built beginning in the late 80’s.  The scene may look familiar: A photo of it was on the cover of Walther’s HO Catalog in 2000.
No Stopping Here!  
A member’s GS-4 and “Daylight” train roars eastbound at full speed past the tiny rural depot and antiquated coal tipple at “High Bridge” and down the 70-foot-long aisle known as the “River Line”.  It’s scenes like this that underscore the advantages of club membership over “going it alone”.  Fine modeling from at least a dozen members is included in this view alone.
Tippecanoe Ave Road To Industry
This remarkable view looking North on busy Tippecanoe Avenue is a favorite location on the railroad.  It’s easy to see why the editors of Model Railroader asked for a feature article about this place we call “East LaSalle” and used it on the cover of their March, 2003 issue.  (Note: there are no trains in sight!)
Heavy Traffic at Depot
Heavy Traffic
Congestion in the tight spaces between the rear concourse area of Union Station and the adjacent REA warehouse & transfer facility is particularly heavy in this scene. 
Parking at a Premium
Parking at a Premium  
The depot’s “Traveler” restaurant generates its own local traffic in addition to that from railroad passengers, so the parking lot is often full even at slow train times. 
Milwaukee Pioneer Ltd.
Pioneer Limited.
The Milwaukee Road's Pioneer Ltd. is ready for boarding on track 4 of Union Depot, as a mix of sleeping cars make up the train. Consist includes former Union Pacific "Pacific" series sleeper built by Budd, with a "Raymond"  and  several "River" sleepers built by Pullman.