Prototype inglenook – CPR Nakusp

Sometimes you stumble across a photo and amaze yourself with how well it fits in with something you were curious about. I was thinking about CP’s car float operations around Rosebery and Nakusp, BC and Mark Dance’s superb N scale layout based on it all. He’s posted a video showing how he’s representing this operation on his layout.

I’ve mentioned it a couple of times here on Prince Street, so not a lot new here. Watching the video again I started to think about how little I really knew about this operation so off to I went in search of a little more knowledge. This time, I started in Google images and I entered CPR Nakusp, clicked Enter and the adventure began.

Most of what I think I know about this unique rail-marine operation is summarized by this terrific photo (since I don’t have permission to post it, I’ll just leave the link and it will open in another window if you click on it):

That photo was recently featured on Trevor Marshall’s Acheivable Layouts blog and shows a CPR H16-44 “H-liner” plus a couple of freight cars and a caboose loaded onto a barge and the tug Iris G. leading the way to the next piece of the journey. This subdivision was home to a number of CP’s H-liners and another is pictured in this close-up showing #8726 actually loading the barge:

David Woodhead included a photo of a loaded barge which compliments the above, from Jim Sand’s blog nicely:

Vintage diesels on rural Canadian branchlines is an easy sell for me. As I wade still deeper into the design of my own layout, I’m always on the lookout for prototype locations that work. I’ve mentioned this particular rail operation before but had based that initial sketch mostly on what I’d observed in the Mark Dance video. Since I’m planning on using something like an ultra-simple Inglenook-based design, it was when I saw this photo I got a little excited:

The above photo is of the Nakusp station and was photographed in 1935. Note that the station is picturesquely placed between a hill and the water’s edge. The photographer is standing in the yard and facing the mainline. The barges are loaded immediately behind the station. What’s so cool about the photo is that it is of a track layout that looks like a terrifically literal interpretation of the basic Inglenook plan. Two turnouts, lots of arrow-straight track and some decent scenery. This is the time when the prototype breaks all the rules and conventions of model railway design. From the same website is this opposing photograph showing the other end of the station, the slip and approach to the car float and the entrance to the yard:

Finally, from elsewhere on the web is this shot of the front of the station:

The Inglenook plan is well known, in case you’re not familiar with it, here’s a link to what must I think is the best website devoted to this plan and the equally popular Timesaver plan:

I’ve built a Timesaver plan before and operated several other’s modellers versions and always felt that, that particular plan was clearly a novelty. It is the type of model train set you’d build to amuse yourself and it does deliver that but it’s more a game than model of a railway. All of those things that I feel are wrong with the Timesaver are right when I consider the Inglenook. If you have the space, the humble Inglenook could really come alive in variations that support more cars in multiples of the original 3-3-5 ratio such as 6-6-10 or even greater still. What I’m always on the lookout for are prototype locations that feature similar operations so you could both build the simple plan yet have something “real” to refer back to; basically so when you’re not operating the layout you still have that: “I’ve modelled something real” feeling. There are so many examples out there and Nakusp isn’t the only one, but is sure is a literal interpretation of the plan and one to keep in mind. Imagine how cool it would look if set in the mid-1930’s time period so the motive power was 4-4-0 steam engines and shorter wooden cars instead of the 50’s era variations that seem so much more common.

I hope you take a minute to click through the photos and I really hope you check out the website.


  1. Hi Chris:
    Great post. I like how you’ve identified the Inglenook in the prototype – a great idea to encourage people to build realistic layouts.

    1. Thanks Trevor. I was really rather thrilled by this real life example. Often we find ourselves seeking these locations but what really caught my attention here was just how literal this one was. Combined with terrific scenery and rail-marine operations it would be a terrific subject for a layout.

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