The In-ko-pah Railroad

My 1/24th Scale, Outdoor Model Railroad

I began work on this project in January 2006. The railroad is situated on a steep slope behind our house. It represents a fictional, narrow gauge railroad in a rugged, rocky desert environment.

After nearly two and a half years of labor, the mainline of the railroad was completed. A train made the first complete lap around the layout on May 21, 2008.

There is roughly 250-300 feet of track, with numerous trestles, bridges, and tunnels. All were scratch built. The trackplan is a stretched dogbone folded into an overlapping “Z”.

The scenery was inspired by the desert areas east of San Diego, in particular the famous Carrizo Gorge, the Jacumba Mountains, and the In-ko-pah Gorge. I had to develop ways to model scale cacti, ocotillos, agaves, sagebrush and other iconic desert plants using materials that could withstand constant exposure to the elements.

There are many structure on the layout, all of them scratchbuilt. The railroad passes buildings representing three small towns — Dos Manos, Mineral Ridge, and Grandt Cliff — plus the abandoned Monolith mining camp. There are also several mines including the Princess Shilo Mine, the Cliffside Mine, and the Black Rock Mine. All of the buildings have interior LED lighting, and most have realistically detailed interiors. Many more buildings and mining structures are planned.

The In-ko-pah Railroad was featured in the December 2011 issue of Garden Railways magazine.

I’ve also written many how-to articles for Garden Railways and other magazines. See my Publications page for more info: