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added: May 18, 2015  /  updated: July 27, 2015

HO Scale Desert Layout Project  -  13/22
Cajon Pass Landscaping (Mormon Rocks and West Summit Island)
The time has come to continue inside the room (office 2) because outside everything is done. Here will be a lot of landscaping between the tunnels and the RR overpass. Even there is not much space between the tracks, I am trying to bring some real Cajon Pass flavour including the Mormon Rocks, famous Hill 582 and West Summit Island.
Photos 1515 - 1775, starting 5/18/15 and ending 7/27/15

(just click on the 4-digit number for bigger size photos)

5/18/2015: Everything is starting with a big construction site
Men at Work, boards are glued between the risers - 1515 weights are holding the boards in position until glue is dry - 1516
lenght from wall to wall is 4,9 m (12,8 feet) - 1517 ready to place styrofoam between track levels - 1518
the pink styrofoam is easy to be cut and sanded to shape - 1519 still a long way to go !! - 1520

 sorry about the endless amount of pictures, but I want to save all the different views of every corner and every step.
if it is too much for you - just scroll down !

5/20/15: Now I am concentrating on the corner with the road going underneath the upper main tracks. This corner has to be done first because of not having access to the rear (my arms are not long enough !!). The distance is 1,3 m (4 1/4 feet). So, to reach the corner I have to step on the table below the frame. In other words, this section needs full attention, now.
here, the hight difference between the 2 levels is 15 cm (6") - 1521 once the open square is closed, no more access - 1522
I cut a piece of plywood (10 mm) for the road  - 1523 from above - 1524
the tunnel portal will be scratch built . . - 1525 . . to fit exactly (this mockup is just cardboard) - 1526
the road is going slightly uphill . . - 1527 . . and will desappear - 1528
To fill the triangle of the corner, I decided to add the Mormon Rocks. These rocks are between BNSF Main 1&2 and the UP Main. At the left side is Highway 138 passing over the BNSF tracks and under the UP track. So, my layout situation has some similarity as my road is also passing the double track and going under the upper level - 1529
5/23/15: I put the pink styro behind the upper double track - 1530 this is the idea of placing the Mormon Rocks - 1531
behind the tracks, the road is going thru a cut - 1532 this opening will remain until the Mormon Rocks are done - 1533
underfarme and risers will be covered with styro - 1534 the portal will be made of wood - 1535
next step - pink styro is added in front of upper level - 1536 see thru the tunnel - 1537
from above - 1538 styro needs a lot of cutting and sanding - 1539
the Rocks are too small, therefore . . - 1540 . . I enlarged the photo of the Mormon Rocks (fits better) - 1541
5/28/15: I am trying to shape the Mormon Rocks using Puren Modur, as this material is softer than the pink styrofoam. I am aware, it will be a difficult mission to re-create the Mormon Rocks on a small space. But we model builders have to live with lots of compromises !!
I was using the photo to to shape the rocks - 1542 in front of the rocks it is hilly - 1543
I was trying to shape and scarfiy the rocks - 1544 view from the other side - 1545
I know, it is by far not perfect, but it could look more or less like that - 1546
now, my Mormon Rocks are at the final position - 1547 of course, there will be paint (color), sand, bushes etc. - 1548
it will be moved forward to continue the work as I cannot reach it (too far away from the front) - 1549
6/01/15: In the meantime I painted the rocks in a light beige/grey color and added some vegetation - 1550
the front is not done yet, but it gives an idea about the look - 1551 looking from the other side as of June 1st - 1552
6/03/15: The lower hills in front got landscaping (sand and vegetation) - 1553
the triangle left of Hwy 138 got the same attention - 1554 in real, there are more bushes on the lower hills - 1555
but in modelling, we have to live with compromises - 1556 the space behind the double main tracks is done - 1557
there are plenty Yucca plants around the Mormon Rocks - 1558 soon, the road will get markings etc. - 1559
close up of my "artificial" Mormon Rocks - 1560 there are also some Yuccas around - 1561
UP is already active - 1562 UP has trackage rights on BNSF tracks - 1563
On July 2, 2015 I got this comment from Gene Rutledge, USA.
After 69 years in Model Railroading, and seeing hundreds of attempts at modeling Mormon Rocks, I must give you the grand prize as the most realistic I have ever seen done. Great job. Gene Rutledge - (no question, I am very proud of this honour. Werner Meer)
the perfect meet in front of my Mormon Rocks - 1564
6/05/15: more pink styro between the tracks - 1565 Hwy 138 got markings and the tunnel portal is custom made - 1566
don't be confused with the styro as it will be shaped . . - 1567 . . and cut down and sanded etc. - 1568
future site of famous Hill 582 - 1569 no question, it will be another challenge !! - 1570
6/10/15: Styro was cut and formed to fit the small space - 1571 there is a RR service road along the upper tracks - 1572
from Hwy 138 will be a dirt road going to Hill 582 - 1573 here is a UP MoW Pickup truck - 1574
Tunnel Portal with retaining walls - 1575 the road to Railfan's Paradise !! - 1576
6/14/15: Below are 4 photos of the curved Hwy 138 section incl. the tunnel portal. The portal is custom made, using 8 mm plywood. In front, I glued thin wooden strips to simulate concrete bars for stabilization. Everything was painted concrete gray. Behing the portal, I made retaining wall sections out of cardboard. These sections were glued on the street roadbed. Why only short sections? Because after the underpass, the road continues in a cut and therefore, the walls of the cut have been painted concrete gray as well. After the Mormon Rocks main section and the section on the left side have been put in place, I was able to install the completed road. Now, the time has come to add the styro sections between the lower and the upper main tracks. BTW: All styro pieces (sections) are not yet glued. Therefore, I was able to shape each section outside the layout, keeping the dust away.
6/14/15: the roadbed was cut out of 10 mm plywood - 1577 painted with Woodland Scenics colors (my own mix) - 1578
road markings are made with 1,5 mm tape by Kyosho - 1579 afterwards, you cannot see the tunnel from this side anymore - 1580
6/18/15: All styro sections have been glued in place, painted light gray and covered with light gray sand.
6/18/15: from pink styro to desert colors - 1581 byrd's eye view from above (see the cut of Hwy 138) - 1582
landscaping brings a layout to life, even . . - 1583 . . it is not exactly the same as on the prototype - 1584
the service road is going along the upper main tracks - 1585 electrical box reflects Truck Performance Detector at MP 61.4 - 1586
both diesesl are EMD SD70M made by Athearn - 1587 the max. grade of the dirt road is 12 % - 1588
the height difference between lower and upper . . - 1589 . . main tracks is 15 cm (6") - 1590
almost road level view thru the underpass - 1591 Hwy 138 is coming off Cajon Blvd. (old Route 66) - 1592
maybe, I will re-paint the dark retaining wall ? - 1593 this intersection and RR-Xing became a busy place - 1594
the dirt road from Hwy 138 leading to Hill 582 . . - 1595 . . is ready to bring materials for building this spot  - 1596
The landscaping is by far not finished. It needs vegetation (Bushes, Yuccas and Joshuas). There are no RR-Xing signals yet, Route 66 is still without any markings and at the end, some weathering will give the final touch. BTW: Hill 582 has to be built yet !! (a huge challenge)

 sorry about the endless amount of pictures, but I want to save all the different views of every corner and every step.
if it is too much for you - just scroll down !

6/18/15: If we go Eastward, after the Mormon Rocks will be Hill 582 and next is Silverwood with West Summit Island (WSI)
Overview looking West toward Hill 582 & Mormon Rocks - 1597 Overview looking East toward WSI and Tunnels - 1598
future site of famous Hill 582 - 1599 further up will be WSI - 1600
from a simple piece of styro . . - 1601 . . we will form West Summit Island - 1602
thanks to CAT equipment, it was much easier . . - 1603 . . to move tons of soil - 1604
WSI is a small observation platform - 1605 in real life, it is between BNSF MT-2 and MT-3 - 1606
Silverwood is West of Cajon Summit - 1607 WSI is a nice place for Railfans - 1608
the service road follows the upper main tracks - 1609 the styro is just painted, no sand applied yet - 1610
construction equipment is ready - 1611 two cars will fit on top of WSI - 1612
from time to time, there are trains passing - 1613 no sand, no vegetaion, no details (except above the tunnels) - 1614

  sorry about the endless amount of pictures, but I want to save all the different views of every corner and every step.
if it is too much for you - just scroll down !

6/23/15: In the meantime, the front of the pink styro was painted and covered with sand. Now, I am starting with adding lots of bushes.
The first part got some bushes - 1615 Huge chaos with different materials - 1616
I am using bushes from Heki, Walthers and MiniNatur- 1617 and home made bushes from SuperTree by Scenic Express - 1618
6/26/15: Both sides of Highway 138 and the dirt road going to Hill 582 got vegetation.
I am aware, that some people do not agree with the vegetation I am doing here. The colors depend on the time of the year. The density of the bushes may vary. It is impossible to copy the real thing into scale modelling. We have to accept lots of compromises !!
Well, at the end it just has to look right for myself and fulfil my imagination !!
6/26/15: this corner is more or less finished - 1619 at a later day I will do some weathering - 1620
the left side will be done later as well - 1621 I can tell, landscaping takes a huge amount of time - 1622
street level view is always attractive - 1623 all tracks are busy - 1624
electrical boxes and she along the service road - 1625 Werner Enterprises is having tarckage rights with UP - 1626
the bright reflection is from the sun . . - 1627 . . coming thru the shutters - 1628
there are some Yuccas between the bushes - 1629 dirt road and service road are both without any bushes - 1630
RR-Xing signals and signs are still missing - 1631 the beginning of the dirt road going to Hill 582 - 1632
road markings will be applied later - 1633 Hill 582 will be done at the end - 1634

sorry about the endless amount of pictures, but I want to save all the different views of every corner and every step.
if it is too much for you - just scroll down !

7/02/15: Landscaping was done around West Summit Island (WSI)

Now, the part between the future site of Hill 582 and the Tunnels got some vegetation. Lots of different bushes have been made by Melinda. She is more patient than me !! But I did a lot of sanding and adding the small grass bushes. Well, together we are the perfect team as both are having some creative ideas. Let me explain a few words about WSI. The real WSI is located at Silverwood between BNSF MT-2 and MT-3. On my layout it is just between the lower and the upper double main tracks. WSI is maintained by Jerry Shinar. He built the wooden retaining walls (old ties), did level the observation platform, put a lot of gravel on it (incl. the driveway from track level to the top) and is always watering the beautiful blooming bushes on one side. He did also mount the tree trunks for sitting down while railfanning.
Jerry is the care taker of WSI since many years and we (railfans) are all very thankful for his great support.
A big difference when you compare photos 1603 to 1612. - 1635 Overview looking toward the Mormon Rocks - 1636
note the service road along the upper main tracks - 1637 overview toward the tunnels - 1638
The red pickup truck belongs to Don Toles . . - 1639 . . and the BNSF Ford Expedition to David Miller - 1640
In real life, Don Toles is driving a red Ford pickup truck and on my layout, Don is on the way to Hill 582 (in other words, I should immediately start building Hill 582). David Miller of BNSF was leading the construction of the 3rd BNSF Main Track over Cajon Pass. I was lucky to meet David Miller on three different trips on Hill 582 (back in 2008, 2010 and 2011). As you can see, these Gentlemen are key people to me. In addition, there are two more VIP's: Gary Gray and Marc Fournier. Without these wonderful people I could not run the Cajon Pass Photography site.
Anyone wondering why there is a Minivan on WSI? - 1641 Whenever hanging around Cajon, I am renting a Van - 1642
Usually, my Chrysler Town & Country Vans are white - 1643 in other words, I have lots of great memories - 1644
these flowering bushes need water at least once a week - 1645 the tree trunks are very confortable to take pictures - 1646
I am aware that the retaining walls are lower on real WSI - 1647 WSI as seen from the air - 1648
this Joshua Tree was made by Mason Clark (USA) - 1649 view toward tunnels (see service road left side) - 1650
view toward Hill 582 - 1651 view toward tunnels from outside - 1652
parallel view of left side - 1653 parallel view of right side incl. WSI - 1654
see the structure of the rock formations - 1655 close up of vehicles (Don and David) - 1656
WSI from the side (eye level) - 1657 right of WSI are some Yuccas blooming - 1658
a small Joshua brings life to the scene - 1659 more Yuccas are along the service road - 1660
Desert vegetation has a great variety incl. Yuccas and Joshuas - 1661
street level view - 1662 elevated view with WSI in the middle - 1663
from WSI the hill is going down to track level - 1664 more landscaping on both sides of the road will come - 1665
7/07/15: The beige areas got sand and are waiting for landscaping. But before, the road markings will be applied. I am using 1,5 mm Micron Line Tape from Kyosho (yellow and white).
white road side lines are applied (spacers for yellow lines) - 1666 yellow center lines (35 mm) are spaced 80 mm apart - 1667
road markings bring a street to life - 1668 before the applikation, the position is marked with a pencil - 1669
I know, Hill 582 is still waiting to be done !! - 1670 around the road, the vegetation is still missing - 1671
playing around with Werner Enterprises equipment - 1672  - 1673
street level photos look realistic - 1674 overview from above - 1675
7/09/15: I continued with street markings incl. arrows and RR X-ing signs. For arrows and signs I am using those from Microscale and Summit USA. In the City of Percyville, I applied the decals. After one year, these are coming off the road surface (not satisfactory). So, I made copies of  these on white paper and cut it with a scissors. I am using adhesive tape film (permanent) with a roller and paste it on the surface.
before I started, I made a simple drawing of the X-ing - 1676 these are the markings (it was not easy to cut the letter "R") - 1677
small center islands are leading the traffic - 1678 the RR X-ing signals are not permanent - 1679
I am planning to use the same signals as in Percyville - 1680 but Walthers does not produce these at the moment - 1681
even there is not much space, I was able to make . . - 1682 . . 2 turning lanes for the RR X-ing going into Hwy 138 - 1683
I am not sure if my road system would be correct in real . . - 1684 . . life, but on a layout, space is very limited and . . - 1685
. . we have to accept lots of compromises - 1686 a reminder to build Hill 582 sooner or later !! - 1687
7/16/15: No, I did not build Hill 582 (I only made a drawing), but made a lot of landscaping with the help of Melinda. No question, she became a great bush builder and the result can be seen below. We make our photo journey from left (upper RR-Xing) to right (tunnels) inside office 2. Of course, there is no weathering done yet but I can tell that almost 70 % of the layout is finished. After all, I can see the horizon !!
distance from upper RR X-ing to Mormon Rocks = 3,7 m - 1688 looking towards lower RR X-ing and Mormon Rocks  - 1689
just before the bridge, the service road is ending - 1690 the shed and the office are above the short tunnel - 1691
here, UP is having a small office - 1692 the vegetation makes the scene complete - 1693
I painted the shed at left in mixing the colors to match the office 1694 bushes made by Melinda (w/o Joshua and Yucca) - 1695
Werner Trailers are leaving the short tunnel - 1696 Werner Diesel just before the RR X-ing - 1697
retaining wall between upper and lower main lines - 1698 the upper service road is protected with 'K-Rail' Barriers - 1699
waiting for the overhead RR X-ing signals - 1700  there are now 2 trees next to the dirt road going to Hill 582 - 1701
between road and tracks are small bushes - 1702 view from the other side - 1703
width of this section is just 75 cm - 1704 the space for Hill 582 is still vacant - 1705
distance between Mormon Rocks and Tunnels is 4,8 m - 1706 the tunnels are leading to office 1 - 1707
one day, the roads will be weathered - 1708 from main street is a dirt road going to the tunnels - 1709
in between are some blooming Yuccas - 1710 there are some Joshua Trees around - 1711
the service road starts at the tunnels - 1712 the shed above is for the maintenance crew - 1713
Some bushes above the tunnels give that extra touch - 1714 the service road is protected by 'K-Rail' barriers - 1715
I have been asked, how much time I was investing in building this layout. The work on this page took me 2 months.
If we talk about an average of 5 hours per day, it was approx. 300 hours !!!


7/22/15: Last part of the layout will get landscaping and road markings

Even Hill 582 is still not made, I decided to finish the last segment of the layout inside Office 2. It is between the upper RR X-ing and the curved bridge going to Office 1. As this part is sitting on a shelf along the wall, the size is just 0,4 m wide by 4,5 m long (15 3/4 inches by 14 3/4 feet).
looking toward upper RR X-ing (the road in the middle) - 1716 looking toward curved bridge (not visible) - 1717
road X-ing over Maintrack 1 (see 1716) - 1718 here, the Maintracks split - 1719
On photo 1718 is an "oversized" cat in the middle of the road. This is the "ghost" of Percy, my former layout cat. He is checking my work!!
road X-ing over Maintrack 2 - 1720 road X-ing over Maintrack 2 - 1721
upper RR X-ing (vegetation will soon come) - 1722 upper RR X-ing with High Desert Country Cafe - 1723
7/24/15: The soil (light gray desert sand) was glued on the ground. Road markings are done. RR X-ing signs and signals are not applied yet.
From the upper RR X-ing down to the curevd bridge is a constant grade of 1,5 % (road and tracks).
road X-ing of Maintrack 1 from above - 1724 road X-ing of Maintrack 1 from below - 1725
road X-ing of Maintrack 2 from above - 1726 road X-ing of Maintrack 2 from below - 1727
next step will be landscaping with lots of bushes made by Melinda, fresh and dried grass tufts and one or two Joshua trees.
7/27/15: Landscaping of this part is finished. What a difference to the photos above. Maybe, some people may say the vegetation is not correct for the Mojave Desert or even Cajon Pass. Well, you cannot copy the real nature and it depends if it is Spring or Fall or even Winter.
Anyway, it fulfils my personal requirements and imagination. It does not have to be perfect, but should look right for me!
this part of my layout is sitting on a shelf - 1728 Joshua Trees and lots of bushes are covering the desert soil - 1729
I did not put a train along the wall as it would cover the bushes - 1730 just 2 tracks and a road in the middle fill the narrow space - 1731
compromises: electrical outlet with switch - 1732 well, the oversized "ghost" cat is back (see photo 1718) - 1733
Werner Enterprises is playing a big role on my layout - 1734 Werner Diesel and Werner Truck are meeting each other - 1735
this one of a kind model was painted by Ferdinand Rat - 1736 this Werner tractor was painted by Pitsch Allneider - 1737
road width between white lines is 10 cm (4 ") - 1738 from left: Main 2, road, Main 1 - 1739
road is crossing Maintrack 2 - 1740 Maintrack 1 and 2 are splitting - 1741
same crossing seen from the other side - 1742 RR X-ing signal made by Life Like # 1253 - 1743
did you know? underneath is a 6 track staging yard - 1744 the sandy soil is covered with bushes and tufts - 1745
here, the downhill grade of 1,5 % is starting - 1746 an old UP streamlined coach is on an excursion - 1747
I am standing outside Office 2 (in the passage) - 1748 looking toward the curved bridge - 1749
again, inside Office 2 - 1750 this is the upper RR X-ing - 1751
not enough space for a turning lane - 1752 even this turning lane is too short (compromises) - 1753
I took an endless amount of photos from every perspective (from above, from track level, from left and right). If it is too much, just scroll down.
Now, we are starting at the upper RR X-ing and move down to the curved bridge. Remember, there is a constant grade of 1,5 %.
Graffiti on these tank cars were made by Peter Schönenberger - 1754
An old UP Streamliner Coach is meeting a modern UP EMD SD70M - 1755
Roads are an important part of my layout. Those bushes are made by Melinda - 1756
Pickup Trucks are very common in the USA - 1757
here are no buildings, just the road and 2 tracks - 1758 remember, this part is just 40 cm wide (15 3/4 inches) - 1759
A Cadillac Escalade passed the crossing. Ricko was the only one, who produced an HO scale Escalade - 1760
same crossing from a different view - 1761 Walmart Truck by by Trucks and Stuff (Tonkin) - 1762
This Trailer is already with wind deflectors equipped. Made to save fuel (less wind drag) - 1763
All my favorite vehicles are together. Werner Truck, Cadillac Escalade, Werner Diesel Loco - 1764
In real life, there is no Werner Enterprises Diesel Loco existing. But my model is the prefect match !! - 1765
Werner Enterprises is active on the road and on the tracks - 1766
Street level photos look more realistic - 1767
I like to take lots of photos from different angles - 1768 another view from the road in the middle - 1769
You do not need a lot of space if it is along the wall - 1770 we reach the end of this part - 1771
the road will continue somewhere else - 1772 I wonder who ownes this little shed ? - 1773
This is the final picture of our layout journey. Next will be the construction of Hill 582, located between the Mormon Rocks and WSI - 1774


Page 14 - New 11/19/15:  Landscaping Cajon Pass - Hill 582 - finished - click here  Page 14 


Page 12 - New 5/10/15: The City of Percyville (3) - Extension is finished - click here


Page 11 - New 3/26/14: The City of Percyville (2) - (with main street) is finished - click here


Some important links for the different structures on this layout:
Summit USA Motel, ARCO, Taco Bell, WE Office
Great West Models 2 Werner Warehouses for Trailer loading
Pelle Soeeborg ARCO, Denny's, KFC
BLMA Signals, RR-Xing, parking bumpers
Kim Nipkow & Mason Clark Joshua Trees


Technical Data of my Layout:
Size: 4,5 x 6,5 m (13,5 x 19,5 feet), Era: Modern, Location: Southern California in the Mojave Desert (Cajon Pass), Layout Style: unconventional, in house along the walls, 2 swing up bridges, 1 lift out bridge, double track, min. radius 104 cm (41 inch), max. grade 1,5 %, Track: Atlas flextrack code 100, Turnouts: Peco code 100, Power: conventional DC with electrical feeders every 2 m, Mainline: 32 m (96 feet), Height: 93 cm (36,5 inch)
Overview of the layout (each square is 0,5 m)


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