Route and Historical Scenario of the Sierra Nevada & Pacific Railroad
Editor’s note: As is the case for many model railroads, the builders of the SN&P chose to bend history — and even geography — a bit to suit the model railroad they wanted to build. This page details the alternative history upon which the SN&P is based.
The easternmost portion of the SN&P is the Colorado Midland RWY. The CM (a real railroad) was built from Colorado Springs westward through Buena Vista, Leadville, Glenwood Springs to New Castle (CO) by 1888. In 1890 the Rio Grande Junction RR (owned and operated jointly by D&RG and CM) completed a line from Rifle Creek to Grand Junction (CO) where a connection with the RGW (also jointly owned by D&RG and CM) gave access to Salt Lake City / Ogden. Santa Fe gained control of CM in 1891. This acquisition was probably a second attempt to access the central western states area by ATSF following the loss of the Royal Gorge route, the D&RG.
In reality, CM went bankrupt in 1894, reorganized in 1897, and was purchased by the D&RG and Colorado & Southern RRs. The CM went bankrupt again in 1912, reorganized again in 1917, failed again and was liquidated and dismantled in 1921.
The SN&P treats the CM much more charitably and gives the imaginary CM what it needed: a friendly connection to the west for through traffic that was lost through the D&RG / RGW merger.
In this incarnation, the CM reorganizes from the 1894 bankruptcy still under ATSF control. Determined to reach California, the CM obtains additional joint trackage between Grand Junction and Green River (UT), where the CM heads west through Salinas, Richfield, and Milford (UT), Ely, Tonopah, Mina, and Hawthorne (NV) to Bridgeport (CA). From Bridgeport the tracks cross Sonora Pass and continue westward through Sonora, Stockton, and Lodi to Richmond and Napa, reaching those two points in 1897. The ATSF acquisition of the SF&SJV from Stockton to Bakersfield in 1900, can also be incorporated into the scheme as well, creating a new name – Sierra Nevada & Pacific.
Portions of the route are extremely slim in the way of originating traffic. However, there may be traffic generated from the Ely area copper mines as well as lumber traffic from the Sierras. A silver mining boom took place at the turn of the century in the Tonopah and Comstock areas which generated a great deal of railroad activity. Other commodities can also be found.
The layout models the westernmost portion of the east – west mainline with the following points appearing on the layout: Napa, Richmond, Fairfield, Lodi, Stockton, Sonora, Summit, and Bridgeport.