Track Plan At A Glance
Layout Theme: Junction/Railfan Park
Layout Type: Module
Scale: HO Scale
Track: Code 83
Turnouts: No. 6
Min. Radius: 36"
Article by: Jim Spavins
Published: September 22, 2015
One of the notable railfan parks in the United States is located in Rochelle, IL. Here, the Union Pacific and BNSF Railway cross at-grade showcasing a parade of trains 24 hours a day. At the crossing, the city of Rochelle constructed a small park with a covered, elevated platform to provide a safe place for railfans to enjoy watching the rail traffic.
As a module builder, naturally, I wanted to figure out how to build a module set which could capture the scenes and traffic of Rochelle. The at-grade crossing would certainly add a level of entertainment for the folks watching the layout. However, a crossing element - especially if it is to be operational, will need to be created using a non-standard module set. Most module standards allow for module sets to take non-standard shapes and sizes so long as the connection points to other modules meet the module standards. As can be seen in the plan above, this module set includes mostly non-standard modules but the ends - on the right of the plan - meet up with standard modules. The idea is that the module set would be setup on one leg of a layout - like the U-shaped configuration shown below.
One of the constraining factors with this design is that the longest train needs to fit within the loop between the diamonds and the end of the peninsula. While not shown, the two end corner modules are a standard size and standard modules can be added to extend the length of this loop between these two corner modules and the beginning of the specialty set. This will allow for longer trains to be run.
A sample setup with the Rochelle, IL, module set. | Track Plan by Jim Spavins.
The scenery of the module set mimics the layout of the real town of Rochelle with the railfan park in the center and the surrounding neighborhood represented on the adjacent modules. The farm fields surrounding the town are represented on the corners and connection modules.
- Location on Google Maps >
- Profile on Railroad Traveler >
- Official Railfan Park Website >
- Pictures on Railpictures.net >
- Video from the Rochelle Railroad Park >
A Union Pacific stack train passes by the pavilion at the Rochelle, IL, Railroad Park. | Photo by Jim Spavins.