About my GC&SF

My layout represents 45 miles of the AT&SF main line between Pauls Valley and Ardmore, Oklahoma in 1960.  This line was part of the Santa Fe’s main route connecting Chicago and Galveston.  In 1960, this portion of the Santa Fe was known as the First District, Northern Division, Gulf Lines.

The real GC&SF was chartered in 1873 to connect the wharves on Galveston Island with the Texas interior.  By the mid 1880s the GC&SF was a dominant railroad in Texas and its owners were looking for ways to expand its operations.  At the same time, the Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe (AT&SF) was trying to expand its operations into Texas.  The AT&SF could not operate in Texas in its own right because Texas state law required all railroads that operated within Texas to have their main office in Texas.  In response to a proposal from the GC&SF shareholders, the AT&SF acquired the GC&SF in 1886.  From then, until the Texas law was changed in the mid 1960s, the GC&SF operated as a subsidiary of the AT&SF.  In 1887, under the terms of the merger agreement, the GC&SF extended its rail line from Fort Worth, Texas to connect with the AT&SF at Purcell, Indian Territory (Oklahoma).  This layout represents a portion of that extension. (For more information about the real GC&SF look here.)

The layout was originally built for DC/cab-control operation, and was converted to Digitrax wireless DCC in late 2010.  The track plan provides for continuous running, but during operating sessions trains are run ‘point-to-point’ between the two six-track staging yards which represent all points to the north (such as Oklahoma City, Newton and Chicago), and all points south (Houston, Dallas, Galveston).  Additional trains are also run to and from three single-ended tracks which represent Santa Fe branchlines to Lindsay and to Ringling, and the SLSF (Frisco) line from Ardmore to Hugo.

The operating system uses car-cards and waybills, and timetable operation using a fast-time clock.  A full operating session runs for 3 hours using a 6:1 fast-time clock ratio, and requires at least 7 operators. 

Train operations

Trains operated on the layout are loosely based on the actual passenger and freight trains that operated in 1960, although I’ve used modeler’s licence for operating interest.  I have not been able to find out much about local freight traffic in the area during 1960, so I’ve again used modeler’s licence.  I do know that the area generated significant business for the (real) Santa Fe.  For example, during the late 1950s the Dolese Brothers limestone quarry at Big Canyon shipped upwards of 80 car loads of crushed rock each day.

The current GC&SF timetable schedules the following trains for operation during a full 3-hour session (representing one 18 hour 'day'): 
  • 6 through passenger trains, including the Texas Chief, the Kansas Cityan and the Chicagoan; 
  • 4 through freight trains, which set out and pick up cars at Pauls Valley and Ardmore;
  • 6 ‘extra’ freight trains, representing the movement of livestock, grain and oil;
  • 4 local freight trains, moving cars between the yards at Ardmore and Pauls Valley, and the modeled industries;
  • 4 branchline mixed trains, to and from Lindsay and Ringling;
  • plus 2 Frisco/SLSF mixed trains between Ardmore and Hugo. 
During operating sessions freight trains are limited to a maximum length of 2 locos, 21 freight cars and a caboose due to the length of the arrival/departure track at Pauls Valley (2m, 7'6").

Layout details

Room size:      5.5m x 6.0m  (18’2” x 19’8”)

Prototype:        Based on the real GC&SF from Pauls Valley to Ardmore, Ok., with GC&SF branchlines to Lindsay and Ringling, and to Hugo via the SLSF.

Era:                 1960

Style:               Single track mainline around the wall, with two peninsulas.
Provision for continuous running, but operated ‘point to point’ for operating sessions.

Mainline run:    Approximately 34m (112’) of visible mainline.  A complete circuit around the continuous run loop is approx. 53m (175’)

Staging:           12 tracks (6 at each ‘end’) with balloons for turning trains.
3 stub-ended branchline tracks.
2 tracks on continuous run.

Min. Radius:     45cm (18”) between Ardmore and Pauls Valley, down to 30cm (12”) elsewhere.

Operation:        Car-cards & waybills, typically with 7 to 9 operators.
A full session lasts 3 hours using a 6:1 fast-time ratio.

Control:           Digitrax wireless DCC.

Track:              Visible track is a mix of Peco, Micro-Engineering and Atlas code 55.   Hidden track is Atlas and Peco code 80.

Height:             Approx 1.38m (54”).


  1. Hey Rod, thanks for joining the JL&T blog. Just been looking over your blog and clearly there is a good N Scale following here in Melbourne. I've had Rod W, John F & Bill B over for a visit and your also more than welcome. Look forward to reading more of your blog. Jason...

    1. Hello Jason.

      I first noticed your blog a while back, but wrongly assumed that you live in the USA. Last week I noticed a comment that you'd left on Brendan D's (D&H) blog, and the penny dropped. You've probably recognised a few faces in my photos.

      Thank-you for the invitation to visit, which I would very much like to take up (and sooner rather than later.)


  2. No not in the USA, Diamond Creek actually. Yes do recognise a few faces, been visiting over the last few weeks too. Brendan, Rod, John F with Bill B to go, so yes feel free to email me off my blog and I'll send you my details so we can arrange a visit for you.
    I'm just finishing leave (Mon 24/3) but I'm a sift worker and available during the week a fare bit. Will hopefully be having a few ops sessions start soon on our layout so will be good to build up some contacts for operators.



  3. Wish you would post more photos of your railroad as I am modeling the same area here in Milton, Delaware USA, the Washita & Santa Fe Railroad.

    1. Hi Paul. I can post more photos, but I think most of my layout has already been shown in multiple pictures. Keep in mind that my layout is not meant to be an accurate rendition of the area in 1960 - I have neither enough space nor enough information to do that. However, I do have a lot of information that might be of interest to you, and which I'm happy to share. Likewise, I'd be interested in any information that you can provide. And I'd also like to hear more about what you're doing. If you're interested, please email me at 'gulflines@yahoo.com.au'.