Twin Cities and Western Railroad

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Alan Saatkamp’s Twin Cities and Western

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Located in an 11 ½’ x 15’ downstairs spare bedroom, this HO scale, single deck, operation-oriented layout offers three operators plenty of switching opportunities. Twin Cities and Western is a contemporary Minnesota shortline. Selective compression of the 229 mile prototype includes 92 modeled miles and six stations—Glencoe, Buffalo Lake, Hector, Ruebel, Granite Falls, and Montevideo.  Sister railroads, the Minnesota Prairie Line and Red River Valley and Western, provide variety of motive power. The University of Minnesota (my grad school alma mater) school colors make for cool looking locomotives, featuring GP10s, GP38-2s, and GP39-2s.

I modeled TCWR a few years ago before moving the Kansas from South Dakota. After two years of modeling Progressive Rail including the Airlake Industrial Park in Lakeville (now donated and part of the U of M train club inventory), I figured out how to do justice to my favorite Minnesota shortline.
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Layout at a Glance 
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Layout at a glance

• HO scale
• Single room, 11 ½ x 15’ (plus an adjoining Jack and Jill bathroom)
• 83 square feet shelf and peninsula
• Twin Cities and Western locals, plus UP and CP ethanol and coal traffic
• Central Minnesota, 21st century
• Walk around point to point
• 48’ mainline
• 100% scenicked
• Digitrax DCC
• Tsunami and LokSound
• Walkaround carpeted basement stairs access
• Micromark car cards and waybills
• Industrial trackage, six stations
• Three operators
Jobs on the Layout 
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Jobs on the Layout
There are three tricks which include six of the seven jobs. The Utility Job originates in Glencoe, making up the westbound Ruebel turn, working industries, and then heading west to Ruebel, working Hector and Buffalo Lake. The Ruebel turn originates in Glencoe, traveling to Ruebel, working the Southern Minnesota Sugar Beet Plant and returning to Glencoe. The West End Job originates in Ruebel and takes traffic west and working Granite Falls and Montevideo. The coal extra (CP) originates in Twin Cities staging, delivering coal to Ruebel.

The (UP) ethanol extra, also called at Twin Cities staging, delivers and picks up at Granite Falls Energy. The North Star Intermodal hauls cattle feed in containers on flatcars to Twin Cities (staging) before returning to Montevideo. The grain shuttle also originates in Twin Cities staging and makes pickups and setouts in Montevideo.
About the Layout Owner 
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About the Layout Owner
Alan Saatkamp, MMR, relocated from South Dakota to Shawnee, Kansas, in June 2014 with his wife Jan. He retired from the Veterans Administration in 2000 and the Minnesota State Veterans Home in Minneapolis in 2005. He attended seminary in Sioux Falls and currently serves as an interim pastor of a Lutheran church in Topeka, Kansas. 

His model railroading interest dates back to an American Flyer set from boyhood. He’s been modeling various Midwestern regionals and short lines most of the past 25 years since returning to the hobby.

Photo Gallery

  •  Buffalo Lake

    Buffalo Lake

  •  Glencoe Engine House and power

    Glencoe Engine House and power

  •  Glencoe Yard

    Glencoe Yard

  •  Granite Falls Energy

    Granite Falls Energy

  •  Hector

    Hector

  •  Southern MN Beet Sugar Coop

    Southern MN Beet Sugar Coop

  •  Crews using all three aisles

    Crews using all three aisles

  •  TCWR layout looking east

    TCWR layout looking east

Map and Directions to the Layout

You can click on the “show directions” tab to print directions from the host hotel to the layout. Or you can download them in Apple Maps or Google Maps on your portable device.