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Layout Tour.

The following model photos (some of which were modified via Adobe Photoshop) represent some of the action during a typical operating session on the layout. On the upper and lower level trackplans, each photo viewpoint is shown by an arrow and the Figure number in italics. Pointing at the number will change the pointer icon, and (on some browsers) cause a label reading "Figx" to appear. Clicking on this will take you to the photo and a caption. Clicking on the photo will toggle you back to the trackplan. (Alternatively, the tour can still be enjoyed by scrolling through the photos.) As noted earlier, these photos are best viewed full screen (Hit F11).

Upper level trackplan

Yard crew at Klondike City

Figure 1. Klondike City yard is central to operations on the KMR. Here Jim Providenza and John Brennan look over their day's work.

KMR #2 yard switcher

Figure 2. KMR #2 is the yard switcher at Klondike City. It also takes care of the chores at KC industries as well as the dredge construction site at Bonanza Flats and the Yukon Consolidated Gold Corporation compound at Bear Creek. Of the four original locomotives on the KMR, #2 was the most useful. KMR #1 (a Brooks mogul) was underpowered, #3 a Vauclain compound outside-frame consolidation had clearance and maintenance problems, while #4 (an inside-frame prairie) was taken by the White Pass in 1942. So in the present scenario, #2 soldiers on, 64 years after Baldwin built it. Here it makes up the consist for Train 401, the Dawson Switcher.

KMR #2 yard switcher

Figure 3. Power for Train 401 is provided by KMR #5, one of two heavier consolidations acquired (under the present scenario) during the war. Here it backs out of the Klondike City enginehouse, on to the turntable (also a war-time addition).

#5 crosses the Klondike River bridge

Figure 4. KMR #5 with Train 401, the Dawson Switcher, crosses the skewed pin-connected truss bridge across the Klondike River, between KC yard and Dawson City. This bridge has been was frequently knocked off its piers by ice during spring break-up. Locomotives #'s 5 and 6 are the largest that can use it due to loading restrictions, and its deck is planked to permit vehicular traffic to Klondike City.

Crew of Train 401 check their work.

Figure 5. Across the aisle from KC yard, Don Mitchell and Al Lill (a regular KMR operator) look over the situation in Dawson City, in preparation for Train 401's arrival.. Mike Command and Seth Neumann are at left.

Train 401 enters Dawson City.

Figure 6. Train 401 enters Dawson City through the legs of the ferry tower. This supports a cable, to which is tethered a reaction ferry that crosses the Yukon River using the river current. The tower's height is enough to provide clearance for the smokestacks of stern-wheelers that ply the river. At right is the White Pass dock building, which services the WP&YR's fleet of sternwheelers, and is a major source of revenue for the KMR. A KMR spur passes through the building, providing access to the dockside stiff-leg derrick, to facilitate loading of heavier freight.

CBC Bank building

Figure 7. Perhaps the most imposing structure in Dawson City is the Canadian Bank of Commerce, a wood frame building sheathed in pressed metal panels, painted to give the impression of stone (and hence affluence and stability) to the customers. A lot of placer gold has been traded here. (This building still stands - a bit derelict - in Dawson City in the modern era. It is often to be seen at right in the view of the Dawson City webcam, at The people in front of the Bank are awaiting passenger trains which load and unload there. Beyond the bank is the Volunteer Fire Department with the City Council offices above. On the hillside in the distance is a prehistoric slide, said to have buried an aboriginal village.

Five Fingers Coal and Oil Co.

Figure 8. At the far end of town is the Five Fingers Coal and Oil Company. They receive coal by barge from a mine up-river near the Five Finger Rapids, and have a dock beyond the coal bunker. Coal is shipped up and down the KMR from here. Refined oil products arrive via the VW&YR and KMR, for distribution locally. There is an increasing revenue from this traffic, due to the increased use of cars and trucks in the gold fields.

Yukon Cold Storage.

Figure 9. Another structure still standing in modern-day Dawson City is the white building in the right background. It served many functions over the years, including cold storage. Here it provides icing service for KMR refrigerator cars, as well as to the domestic market. It seems odd that ice service should be required in an area underlaid by permafrost. However summer temperatures in the high nineties (Fahrenheit) are not uncommon in Dawson City.

KMR #1 coals up at Sulphur Springs

Figure 10. Meanwhile, at the other end of the KMR, locomotive (second) #1 coals up at Sulphur Springs for the morning run to Dawson City. In this scenario, the original #1 was replaced with a second-hand light consolidation with enough tractive effort to handle KMR passenger traffic on the ruling grade south of Grand Forks, as well as some light freight switching. The coaling facilities at Sulphur Springs are located on one leg of the wye, with the engine house on the tail track behind.

Train 102 ready to leave Sulphur 

Figure 11. KMR #1 has now backed down on to the consist of Train 102, scheduled to depart Sulphur Springs at 8.00am. The early starting time of this train is for the convenience of customers along the line travelling to Dawson City for a day's shopping or business, but does mean that the train crew must overnight at Sulphur Springs. Thus 102 is an unpopular assignment with KMR employees, since accomodations in the depot are primitive at best, and there's not much else at Sulphur Springs other than Charlie's road house a mile or so down the government road. Passengers can return from Dawson City at 5.35pm on Train 103, which gets in at Sulphur Springs at 7.00pm.

Standing on a stool to switch Sulphur Springs.

Figure 12. On the layout, Sulphur Springs, on the top deck, is located above the engine servicing area at Sicamous, on the lower deck. So operators at Sulphur Springs (and elsewhere on the KMR) stand on a step stool for uncoupling Don Mitchell demonstrates here.

Train 102 arrives at Soda.

Figure 13. Down the hill from Sulphur Springs, 102 takes the depot track at Soda, which serves mining activities in the area. The depot at Soda is the superstructure from one of the line's original boxcars - management decided that they needed flat cars more than box cars in the early days. (A visit to modern-day Soda involves a hike through scrub off the government road, but is rewarded by a visit to the depot, which is still there with some track-switch hardware after more than 90 years. Wood rots slowly in the Yukon due to the low winter temperatures.)

Train 102 on the Homestake Gulch trestle.

Figure 14. There are some particularly scenic spots on the line down to Dawson, notably the Homestake Gulch trestle south of Grand Forks. There is a permanent slow order on the trestle, which allows more time for passengers to enjoy the view. (Photo with Carl Sparks)

Train 102 passes under the siphon at Fox Creek.

Figure 14a. Train 102 passes under the siphon at Fox Creek and then by Dredge #5 working in Bonanza Creek below. The dredges were operated by electricity (generated by a hydro plant on the North Fork of the Klondike River), but did require periodic deliveries of cordwood. This was for the on-board generation of steam for thawing of ice from sheaves and cables at the beginning and end of the dredging season, and also for space heating. Delivery of cordwood to the dredges from a loading point near Klondike City was an important source of revenue for the KMR in its earliest days, and continues under the present scenario in 1949. The railway also ships in lubricants and spare parts to the dredges, and ships out items needing repair, as well as the placer gold that the dredges recover from the gravel in the creek bed. (Photo with Carl Sparks)

Meet at 90 Below Discovery.

Figure 15. At 90 Below Discovery, Train 102 meets Train 403, the Bonanza Turn, which peddles freight daily from Klondike City to Sulphur Springs. The power on 403 today is #6 (sister to #5 seen earlier). Once 102 moves on, #6 will pick up the box car on the team track at left, the first part of a spur which also serves dredge #10 below on Bonanza Creek. The depot at 90B/D is another of the old box car superstructures.

Train 102 arrives at Dawson City.

Figure 16. An observer perched on the ferry tower (or someone watching the Dawson City webcam mentioned earlier) sees 102 arriving in Dawson City at 9.25am, unloading passengers on Front Street conveniently in front of the CBC Bank.The arrival of passenger trains into Dawson City requires some coordination with the crew of the Dawson Switcher at right, who keep one eye on the bridge across the Klondike River for the smoke of arriving trains. After the passengers detrain, #5 will couple on to the rear of the consist of 102, drop the combine at the KMR freight house to unload baggage and LCL shipments, and then haul the coaches back to KC yard. This allows #1 to back across the bridge to the KC engine servicing facilities, to turn and replenish coal and water.

VW&YR Train 2 is made up at Sicamous.

Figure 17. Meanwhile at Sicamous on a rather misty morning, the yard switcher (a standard-gauge 0-6-0) makes up the consist of VW&YR Train 2, "The Sourdough", using a dual gauge idler car which has both standard- and narrow-gauge couplers.

VW&YR #10 turns on the Sicamous turntable.

Figure 18. The power for Train 2 is VW&YR #10. Because of the greater distances on its line, the VW&YR favours heavier power (such as this mikado) than the KMR. Here #10 turns on the Sicamous turntable, which has 4 rails since it is used by both standard and narrow-gauge locomotives, all of which have to be centred. Thus the lead to the table features a draw, which moves the narrow-gauge power over to the centre line. The standard gauge tracks curving off to the right are those of the CPR Okanagan branch down to Kelowna BC, which carries a lot of fruit in season.

VW&YR Train 2 ready to depart Sicamous.

Figure 19. #10 has backed on to her train, coupled and pumped the air. Departure is scheduled at 7.40am. The passengers for this train need to stay overnight at the Sicamous hotel/depot, since there are no direct connections with CPR main line trains. The same is true for passengers bound for Kelowna down the Okanagan branch. However, there are worse places to overnight than a resort hotel on the shore of beautiful Shuswap Lake.

The narrow gauge leave the CP main line at Clanwilliam.

Figure 20. The narrow gauge rails of the VW&YR separate from the CPR main line between the tunnels at Clanwilliam. They then climb over a pass and drop down into the Thompson valley at Clearwater.

The helix mimic panel.

Figure 21. One problem with hidden trackage, such as the helix on the VW&YR, is for operators to know where their train is and if it is still moving. This information is provided by a "dispatcher's panel" fed by optical detectors in the helix, and here our train has reached Hazelton in northern British Columbia. Operators must still pay attention to the timetable however, since locations such as these in the helix are listed in it.

Switching at Gold Run.

Figure 22. The VW&YR emerges from hidden trackage into the Dominion Creek valley at Gold Run, a switchback, so the consist of Train 2 is switched into the reverse order here. However, there are no turning facilities, so the locomotive continues up to Sulphur Springs tender first, and the observation runs observation end first. Here an OpSIG guest and Greg Kennelly (a regular KMR operator) perform the Gold Run switching on the top deck, while below at right is the freight interchange yard at the west end of Sicamous.

VW&YR Train 2 arrives at Sulphur Springs.

Figure 23. Train 2 arrives at Sulphur Springs. The head end cars will be switched into the freight house spur for mail and LCL freight to be handled, and those passengers who wish will detrain to stretch their legs. Meanwhile, both the locomotive and the observation will be turned on the wye, and the train consist reassembled for departure northbound. From here to Dawson City, the VW&YR has trackage rights on the KMR, but runs under the KMR dispatcher's orders.

VW&YR Train 2 arrives at Dawson City.

Figure 24. Train 2 arrives in Dawson City just after 1pm, but without locomotive #10. Due to the weight restriction on the Klondike River bridge, #10 must be cut off in the Klondike City yard, and the train's consist pushed the last mile or two into Dawson City by KMR #2. Once the passengers detrain, the yard personnel will be busy. The train will depart Dawson City southbound as VW&YR Train 3, "The Gold-Panner", in a little over an hour and a half. In that time, baggage, mail and LCL freight must be dealt with, both the locomotive and the observation must be turned on the KC turntable, and the locomotive serviced with coal and water.

Thank you for taking the tour of the KMR.