Burlington & Missouri River Railroad
An HO Scale Model Railroad by David Lotz



The B&MRR - One Scene After Another
  Written in 2001 for Railroad Model Craftsman by Douglas Harding

Most modelers and railfans can instantly rattle off one or more names when asked about a favorite railroad. Asked to name a favorite scene and again the answers come quickly. Think about your favorite railroad. Which scene comes to mind first? It may involve a depot, or bridge, perhaps an engine or a spot of natural wonder. It may be the shops or a famous landmark trackside.

For Dave Lotz, of Saint Louis, there is no question what his favorite railroad is, the Chicago Burlington & Quincy. He is a past director, president and current vice-president/archivist of the Burlington Route Historical Society, as well as proprietor of "Q Connection", a manufacturer of HO scale CB&Q models and detail parts. Dave has also authored two BRHS Burlington Bulletins on his favorite subject: the Burlington Railroad's namesake town, Burlington, Iowa and it's West Burlington Shops. (Bulletin Issues #23 & 26, available from the BRHS Company Store at www.BurlingtonRoute.com)

His love of the Burlington Railroad led Dave to design a HO scale layout which will recreate specific "scenes" that he hopes people will immediately recognize, yet keep the scenery generic enough to allow for multiple-era operating sessions. One design goal was to keep certain features true scale while selectively compressing others to allow duplication of specific scenes of the Burlington in his basement.

These key scenes include:

To plan and design his layout Dave starts with actual history and then, as he says, "warps" it to fit his vision of the ideal model railroad.  One of the Q's predecessors, the prototype Burlington and Missouri Rail Road Company was incorporated on January 15, 1852, to build a railroad from Burlington, Iowa on the Mississippi River, across Iowa to the Missouri River. Construction began in 1854 with the first train running on track in Burlington on January 1, 1856. The Mississippi River was bridged by the CB&Q in 1868 creating the first physical connection to the CB&Q already on the Illinois side. In 1869 the line was completed to the Missouri River at a location called "Plattsmouth".

In 1873 the B&MRR was leased to its parent company the CB&Q and in 1875 the B&MRR was consolidated with the CB&Q. In Dave's "Warped History" vision the CB&Q RR becomes a wholly-owned subsidiary of the B&MRR in 1873. This version of the CB&Q, maintains it's own equipment roster and numbering and all.

Chicago - Denver & Burlington - St. Louis trains operate as CB&Q trains across the B&MRR. Thus one will see CB&Q equipment, authentically painted and lettered, operating on the B&MRR.  However, you will see equipment that may not be protoypical, lettered for the B&MRR.

The model B&MRR, with it's focus on Burlington, Iowa, started with a layout design Dave first created in 1985. After two moves, redesign for the current B&MRR to fit a large basement in St. Louis, began in 1998. Construction began in January 2000, with the following crew providing much needed assistance for a layout of this size; John Lee, Richard Schumacher, Richard & Venita Lake, Tom Engle, Ken Thompson, Randy Meyer, John Schindler and Hank Kraichley. Dave is part of a round robin group and enjoys the comradery of sharing talents and skills on other layouts. As this is being written benchwork is in place, most of the trackwork is complete and scenery has commenced.

Equipment acquisition began back in 1977 and today Dave has a nice selection of HO scale CB&Q motive power, freight and passenger equipment, from several time periods. As construction continues Dave is looking forward to operating his B&MRR depicting several different multiple eras. Equipment is on hand and/or still being acquired to allow for the following eras and trains:

Just as every layout builder faces limitations (read walls) Dave established basic Design Parameters to accomplish his goal. His list includes:

 Along with his Design Parameters, Dave also established Construction Standards. They are:

Operations on the B&MRR are also taken into consideration with the following goals:

Upon my visit I found the layout construction included some innovation.  The helix is an oval which allows for more "human sized" access inside and the longer run allows for a less demanding grade. The stand-alone framing built of 2x4's listed in Dave's Design Parameters may appear to be "overkill", but it allows both layout levels to be cantilevered from the framing using plywood gusset plates. The gussets are tapered to allow maximum viewing with minimum fascia "thickness" at each level. Note how the photo shows this technique allows for different depths on each level.

The two level staging is open and accessible via a narrow passage way. It includes some scenic details, especially at the yard throats where servicing facilities are located. While not having room for all of his desired depots, Dave's oldest son Joshua is using prototype photos to paint the depots on the backdrops for the staging yards. This gives operators a "feeling" of really leaving/arriving at Galesburg and/or Creston.

As a fellow CB&Q fan I enjoyed my visit to the B&MRR while it was still under construction. I am looking forward to seeing what Dave and his talented crew have accomplished in the months leading up to this summer's NMRA National Convention in St. Louis. The B&MRR is scheduled to be open for the Layout Design Special Interest Group (LDSig) tour on Wednesday afternoon/evening and on the Green Diamond layout tour Thursday and Friday mornings.

The Gateway 2001 NMRA National Convention is July  8-15 (see www.gatewaynmra.org for more details).

Be sure and sign up to watch the different era's of the CB&Q pass through some very recognizable scenes on the Way of the Zephyrs.