Gateway to the North Cascades

Home of the Tall Timber

Storm King

Storm King, located on the western slopes of the North Cascade Mountain Range, is a key facility for the Great Northern Railway & Navigation Company, acting as the gateway to the mountain passes and the railroad’s clientele.  Storm King also provides the base of operations for the snow removal equipment and helper engines required for the assist to the summit of the mountain passes.

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ELEVATION 1,961 FEET             POPULATION 142

Storm King

I started construction of the Storm King module when I had the opportunity to change scales and switch from HOn3 to On30. With this opportunity I wanted to try some different construction methods that would result in a module that could be easily moved and used either as part of a modular layout, permanent layout or stand-alone display so that my modeling would not be significantly  disrupted as life tends to change from time to time.  I decided to try lightweight materials that would provide the necessary strength for the track work and the scenery, yet still be easy to move.

Aluminum angles and square tube stock provides the framework for 2 inch Styrofoam insulation panels that are covered with a layer of cork.   Micro Engineering code 83 rail and turnouts were then laid and wired for DCC control.  Blue Point manual switch controls were installed.

I had started the module in 2013 and by 2014 I had the main lines that cross the module, the Walthers HO scale 90’ DCC turntable installed, had tried building several different styles of tall trees using different materials for the branches and installed a photo backdrop from Backdrop Warehouse.


 There is currently one craftsman kit on the module at this time and it is a Stoney Creek   Models kit from the Crossroads series, “The Gun Shop” which is located at the “southern” end of the module as the Tall Timber Tavern.  I added some Grandt Line windows and an interior to the kit.

The 3 stall engine house was inspired by plans available from Garden-Texture.

The turntable is a Walther’s 90’ HO scale DCC turntable that has a gallows superstructure added to it.  I used the plans from the August 1984  issue of Railroad Model Craftsman as a guide in the building of the superstructure.

The twin tank, twin spout, water tank was also inspired from plans published in the September 1987 issue of Model Railroader.

Storm King station was inspired by Micro-Scale Model’s “Wintersrun Station” and Chooch Enterprises’ “Columbia Depot”.  The stone walls and foundation of the station were hand sculpted using an air drying material called PaperClay produced by the Creative PaperClay Company.   PaperClay is very lightweight and is easily worked both before and after it hardens.  

The ash pit is a resin kit from Hamm River Model Company with Ngineering LEDs and circuitry to provide the glow and flicker inside the pit.


The tall trees are “Jack Works” construction, starting with clear cedar 2x2s that are cut down and then shaped using a plane, “V” chisel and wire brush.  The finish trunks are then stained/painted to look like Cedars and Douglas Firs I’ve experimented with many different materials for the branches, including caspia, cedar boughs, plastic fern materials and Bragdon Enterprises step moss.  The majorities of conifer branches on the layout are a flocked fern material available from Hobby Lobby and preserved natural cedar boughs available from The Aspens are made from “Super Trees” from Scenery Express and flocking from Scenery Express and Woodland Scenics.  Root swells at the base of the trees are made up from Paper Clay.

Dirt and ballast are from Scenery Express and the road and yards are sifted 5/8 minus from Pacific Topsoil.  They are secured using the diluted white glue.

The backdrop is a photo backdrop from Backdrop Warehouse that has been modified to fit the module location and backstory.


Locomotives 28, 29 and 30, the  majority of the motive power displayed on the module, are Bachmann 2-8-0 outside frame consolidations that have had some details added to them.  The plows, beartrap stacks, and tender mounted air tanks are from Precision Scale Company.

Shay number 2 is a US Hobbies shay that was already regauged when I purchased it.

The Mack switcher, #3, is a Backwoods Miniatures kit with a styrene cab added in place of the original one.

Doodlebug #5, was built in memory of Robert Hegge.  I always enjoyed seeing his work and learning more about “the Crooked Mountain lines".  The basis for the doodlebug is the Really Short Combine kit available from Weisman Model Services with additional parts from Grandt Line, Bachmann and Stanton Drive from Northwest Shortline.  A Tsunami DCC decoder provides sound and control of the “bug”.


Dry Transfers and Decals

The Great Northern Railway & Navigation herald and lettering are custom dry transfers done by CyberColor in Seattle.  Decals (Martime Pacific. SeaBear Seafood, and  Canadian Pacific) were made using MicroMark decal paper.


Lighting, Sound and Support

Illumination of the layout is provided by using natural white and multi-color LED strips available from MicroMark.

Sound is provided by a Radio Shack speaker system that was on sale. Narration was provided by Richard Allen (Dad), guitar background music composed and performed by John Altheide, additional sound effects from and final recording and production done by JR Hughson.

The support stand that holds the module and supports the backdrop and light/sound bar was custom built by Mark Bogdan. It supports everything much more securely than the PVC support system I had originally made. 

The burlap skirt for the module was made by Susan Crawford.