Story of the C & M RR

Discussion in 'Track Planning' started by Taerrah, Jul 31, 2002.

  1. Taerrah

    Taerrah New Member

    I wasn't going to post tis because it is rather lengthy, however it may help to paint a picture for you. So, presented here for your entertainment is the story of the C & M RR.Chris’ Model Railroad

    October 1957

    You are on vacation and find yourself downtown in a small city which is surrounded by mountains. You can hear an old steam locomotive whistle and the smell of cinders and smoke hangs in the air. It’s brisk. Across the street, by the train station, sitting on a barrel is a grizzled old man who looks like a mountain man from the old west and sounds like Walter Brennan. He has white hair, a long white beard and he’s wearing a tattered old hat with the front brim turned up. He’s wrapped in an old Indian blanket and holding a walking stick. There is a small crowd starting to gather so you wander over to see what all commotion is about. An old Consolidation steam locomotive is backing into the station with 4 Overton coaches and a wigwag signal is working across the street. These Overton cars have open vestibules and pot bellied stoves. Most are sagging in the middle and some of the paint is peeling.

    “Well, Howdy doo! I’m Jacob MacGuinness but most folks here-abouts just calls me Ol’ Mac. I wanna tell y’all a story ‘bout these here mountains an’ 'bout the C & M Railroad an’ how it came to be here. Now the Sierra Neevada’s generally meander north an’ south along the Californee an’ Neevada state lines. About 75 miles south east of Lake Tahoe there’s this fertile little valley on the Californee side at around 4000 feet high. Bein’ surrounded by mountains an’ all, this little valley lays claim to some fairly toller’ble weather most of the time an’ today it’s the site of this-shear city of Makyala. Now about 40 miles over east of here as the crow flies, an’ almost twice as high over in Neevada there’s a little town called No Name City. It’s about 60 miles away by train but almost a hunnert by automobile. Now this-shear automobile highway is awful run-down an’ it snakes back an’ forth across the state line like somebody done follered a drunken cow to make it. This-shear is the most pure-dee rugged an’ beautiful country you ever did see, but it mostly stands on end. There’s Pine an’ Fir, an’ Aspen trees aplenty, an’ a lot of sheer granite cliffs too. Some of ‘em are a-way above timberline. Only things livin’ up there now is some eagles an’ mule deer an’ a few grizzly bears, but it used to have lots of beavers an’ bufflers too. That caused the Injuns an’ the trappers to have a few run ins together.”

    You figure this may take a while but the train isn’t scheduled to leave for another half-hour and you kind of like this character so you sit down on a bench near a tree to listen.

    “Now Makyala was a-started a-way back in 18 an’ 10 by Col. Quentin P. Scott. It twern’t nothin’ but a supply post in the eastern Sierra Neevada foothills back then. The fort grew into a town on account of it was on the way to Donner Pass an’ on account of all the Mormon folks a-mosey‘n out here to Californee. Well, Col. Scott named this-shear town after his wife Makyala. They say she had a caboose near as big as the town itself! Well, right smack dab in the middle of the gold rush the town grew into a city almost overnight. They was wagons an’ stage-coaches a-commin’ an’ a-going at all hours of the night an’ day. Today it’s a fetchin’ little city where the main things a-keepin’ it goin’ is farming an’ cattle. They got a little railroad interchange too.”

    “Well, No Name City was a-founded in 18 an’ 51 by J. D. Sacker, the famous mountain man. He discovered gold whilst he was a-layin in a buffler waller a-fightin’ Injuns. People started a-commin’ up there when the news got out that he had found gold. So ol’ J.D. decided to divvy up some land and sell it. He made a lot more money doin’ that than he ever did by a-pannin’ gold, I’ll tell ya that! He couldn't come up with no suitable name, so's he just called it No Name City. Well, the town grew and boomed for a couple years, but like most boomtowns, it nearly died when the gold claims gave out. Then back in 18 an’ 74 somebody found silver at the old number 77 claim, an’ it almost brought another boom to the little ghost town. Some of the town’s folk can trace their family roots back to the 49er’s. The town has been re-made as a tourist trap now, with all the fixins of a good time that can be had over in Neevada. The town depends on the C & M to bring the tourists an’ most of the supplies they need on account of the road being so tore up an’ all. Neither state’s highway department wants anything to do with it on account of it’s so fur from anythin’, an’ they don’ want to be a-doin’ no work on it no how.”

    Ol’ Mac takes out a pipe and begins to smoke.

    “Well, the C & M Railroad was built in 18 an’ 81 to bring silver ore an’ timber out of the mountains an’ to bring food an’ supplies an’ such back in to the lumberjacks an’ miners. It was financed by grants from the government finagled by Californee Railroad mogul H. P. Cunningham and Neevada banker Richard Montique. They was a-thinkin’ ‘bout a way to dip their fingers in the pots of both the railroad an’ the mines I bet. Chester Arthur was president back then I recollet. Well, on account of the area’s gee-ology, they had to build the tracks to 3-foot gauge usin’ Chinese workers. China-men was the only choice a-cause they knew how to work with black powder whilst they was suspended in these wicker baskets. They had to blast tunnels an’ cut and fill in these god-forsaken granite cliffs round here just to get a toehold for the tracks. They worked cheap too. Ya see, 3 or 4 China-man would lower another’n down in this basket an’ he’d put in the powder an’ light the fuse. Sometimes they didn’t get him back up in time an’ that’s where the old sayin’ ‘you don’t stand a China-mans chance’ came from. Some of their get is still in No Name City today.”

    He pulls on his pipe a few times.

    “Well, the C & M changed hands an’ names a few times over the years but managed to come through somehow, by buyin’ up junk and then rebuilding their junk from other junk. Most folks thought the C & M was run with 2 sets of books for a whole lot of years. It seems that all the owners got rich while the railroad got poor. Yes sir-ee, I seen it all. But today, the old railroads main cargo is tourists an’ they went back to usin’ the C & M name again. It’s the main supply link for No Name City an’ it still carries ore an’ timber every now an’ again too. The C & M changed hands again about a year an’ a half ago an’ the new owners got some grants an’ such to restore the old railroad. The first thing they wanted to do was ta fix all the broken stuff so’s it was safe to ride on. New paint an’ such is gonna have to wait, on account of this is the busy season an’ they need the money. An’ ‘sides that, some of the tourists say that the old rickety equipment is quaint an’ nostalgic, what ever that means.”

    He re-lights his pipe.

    “Now bein’ today is Saturday, the 12th of October, 19 hunnert and 57, it’s in the fall of the year. It started out gray an’ cold this mornin’ an’ the radio says it’s a-gonna stay that-a-way and it’ll prob’ly snow tonight. These here skiers have flocked to Makyala by the hunnerts to show up at the grand opening of the Makyala Ski Chalet fer the long weekend. In the meanwhile, a lot of em want to go on up to No Name City to wait for the snow. They’re all a-wantin’ ta do some shoppin’ an’ drinkin’ in one of them famous waterin’ holes, an’ gamblin’, an’ a few of the men folk are a-wantin’ a good time with one of the ladies from the Cheyenne Social Club. I bet a couple of ‘em might even wind up getten’ hitched whilst they's up there too! Nobody wants to drive that road now, ‘specially with the snow a-commin’ on, an’ on account of most of ‘em will prob’ly wind up drunk as a skunk afore the night’s out anyhow. They can at least sleep it off on the train on the way back. This is the busiest day the C & M has seen for quite a spell an’ every piece of usable rolling stock they got has been hitched to a train to carry all these folks up yonder. No Name City figgured this crowd of folks would be there too an’ they’s about ready with all their special peddlers an’ snake oil shows an’ such. They even brought in some more adult entertainment help.”

    He gets up and starts to walk toward the train.

    “Now I see that some of ya got yer tickets so the rest of ya better shake a leg cause the train’s a-fixin’ to skee-dattle.”

    You step up to the rear of the second car and climb aboard. The conductor looks older than dirt with his white curly hair protruding from under his hat and his thick glasses. His uniform is immaculate with shining brass buttons on the dark blue double-breasted blazer. He leans out of the vestibule and takes a long look around for any stragglers. He hollers “Boooard!” He sounds a lot like Rochester, Jack Benny’s sidekick. You find an empty seat on the right side near the stove and sit down.

    “Mornin’ ladies and gents. I’s Charlie Johnston, your conductor on this-shear train to No Name City. My Great Grand Pappy started with the C & M back around the turn of the century and we-uns just kind of hung on with em ever since. Tickets please.”

    You hand him your ticket. He punches it twice and hands it back.

    “Thank ya suh.”

    He keeps walking forward punching tickets and then turns around to face the passengers. The whistle blows and the coach jerks and starts rocking and swaying as it is pulled down the track.

    “Now as we pulls out of the station here in Makyala, I gots to tell y’all to keep yer hands and arms and such inside the train. We gonna pass mighty close to some cliffs and trees and such and we wouldn’t want to lose ya. Now I’ll be back in just a few minutes.”

    He goes to the forward car and returns in a few minutes. The steady drone of the clickety clack and the steam chuff lull you into a comfortable position and you look out of the window to see the last of the city pass by and mountains come into view.

    “Yowzer, it gonna take us near abouts two and a half hours to get them 60 miles today on account of all the twists and turns in the track. Over on yer right is the old stamp mill where they used ta bring the silver ore to be mashed up.”

    The conductor goes towards the rear of the train and comes back in about an hour.

    “Now we’s commin’ to another’ tunnel. Keep yer hands in, hear! And Mommas, you hold on to yer young-ins.”

    The train goes into the tunnel and comes out the other side. Smoke burns your eyes and nose.

    “Ya can tell we’s a getting higher now cause the trees is a-changin. Well lookie there! That ol’ she-bar got herself a couple of campers treed. Hee hee. Gonna be a long day fer them – Yowzer. Well, she’ll amble along soon enough so long’s they don’t try to feed her. Hee hee. Now grab on ta somethin’ as we’s about to cross the Shakespeare River. Oh, we already done crossed it once and we gonna cross it several times afore were done, but rat now we’re gonna cross it on the old Cunningham trestle.”

    You can feel the car vibrate and sway as it crosses the old wooden trestle.

    “She shakes and wobbles a bit, course she was built back in ‘81, but don’t you fret none. We only ever-lost one train off’n her and that was a-cause the engineer was a-goin’ lickety split at about 35 miles an hour. Took durn near a week to dig ‘em all out! Hee hee. Well, there’s ol’ Jed Morrow, still out there a-pannin’ fer gold. I guess he does eke out a livin’ at it.”

    Mr. Johnston leaves the car. About 20 minutes later he comes back in as the train begins to slow down.

    “Now we’s starting up the three five grade to No Name City. Off to your left you can still see the workin’s of several old abandoned mines. “

    A few minutes pass.

    “Did Ol’ Mac tell y’all about how the Chinese built these tunnels? This un’ we’s fixin’ to go through is nigh on to a mile long.”

    The train goes into another tunnel. After a couple of minutes it emerges and begins to slow.

    “Well, it won’t be long now. We’s coming to the Gandy Dancer switch back. See, there ain’t room to turn the train around betwixt here and No Name City, so we back her on up into town from here.”

    The train stops, blows the whistle, and begins to back up.

    “Then coming back, we back her from here back down through the tunnel and pass the mines afore we can go forward again.”

    A few minutes pass.

    “Well folks, here we is.”

    The train stops and people begin to clamber for the vestibules.

    “Looks like Mayor Sacker is on hand to great you personal today. Thanks for riding with us and we hopes to see you again real soon. Watch your step please.”

    As you exit the train in the middle of a dirt street you see a crowd of people gathered watching a short fat man wearing a suit with a red tie and matching boutonniere. He has about three hairs combed across the top of his head. It looks like he is about to speak so you join the crowd. He sounds like a cross between John Wayne and a circus barker.

    “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, welcome to No Name City. I’m Mayor Barnibus T. Sacker, die-rect descendant of the famous J. D. and it would give me great pleasure to be your host during your visit. Now I bet Ol’ Mac down in Makyala told you all about our fair city. Well, the fact is, that old coot hasn’t been up here in years, but his information is generally correct. What I’d like to do, with your kind permission, is to give you a little familiarization tour. Now I don’t intend to endorse or discredit any business establishment, that would be a conflict of interest. It’ll only take about ten minutes and I’ll show you some highlights and then let you explore on your own.”

    He starts walking toward the rear of the train.

    “Here we have the Ace’s and Eight’s Card room, and right next door is the Old Number 77 Claim cocktail lounge. Now you youngsters aren’t allowed inside in any of the gambling or drinking establishments without your parents. If you do, Sheriff Larson will put you in the hoosegow and make you clean the street after the gunfight! Right over here is the China Moon. Best Chinese food in town. Now if you’re of a mind to get hitched while you’re here, the Justice of the Peace has his office right around the corner there. Tombstone Bob’s Wild West Show will be right there at the end of the street. I think it starts in about an hour.”

    He starts walking back down the other side of the street.

    “Chin’s Laundry offers four hour service. Now there’s the tobacco shoppe with Eagle Feather the wooden Indian out front. He says you can go on in and smell his fine wares for free. You’ve probably noticed a number of curio shops here along Main Street, and just around the corner here is an Indian Tee Pee that has some of the finest silver jewelry around. On the other side of the tracks is the Cheyenne Social Club. Youngsters… Holy Cow! Look how that woman got her husband by the ear! Ow, I bet that smarts. Ladies, please keep your children away from there. Take ‘em to the Wild West Show or somthin' instead”

    He turns and starts walking back up the other side of the street toward the center of the train.

    “If Sheriff Larson or I can be of any further service, please don’t hesitate to ask. Our office is the very next street over, by the blacksmith shop. There’s a barbershop and a bathhouse over there too. Once again, welcome to No Name City and please enjoy your visit. Thank you.”

    Well, what to do first? The train going back to Makyala leaves every two hours so there are plenty of options…
  2. Tyson Rayles

    Tyson Rayles Active Member

    I love it! Excellent story, very believable! :cool:
  3. Catt

    Catt Guest

    I agree Tyson.Very enjoyable reading.:D
  4. RI541

    RI541 Member

    I love stories like that.

    Thanks for taking the time to type that all out. Very enjoyable. Modelrailroader ran a couple stories like this one a while back, but they stopped for some reason. I know that they got a couple complaints saying it wasn't modeling or something. I figure if its got to do with railroading it's got to do with modeling. The author used his layout for the story and photo's.

    Thanks for telling me about this thread. Think we could talk The-Gauge into maybe starting a story forum?:)
  5. kettlestack

    kettlestack Member


    Wonderful story, can't tell you how much I enjoyed it. I've been up there in the wild mountains and visualised (even lived) it all.
    Thank you for the effort you put in to share it with me and The Gauge members.
    The book "Fiddleton & Copperopolis RR" imediately sprang to my mind.
    Tyson, I owe you one (again :) ) for directing me to this article.

  6. Tyson Rayles

    Tyson Rayles Active Member

    Shane, Bill Henderson and his Coal Belt R.R. are the articles you are thinking of. I thought they were great also. Like you I hope they continue. Errol I figured you and Shane would enjoy the story, glad you did.
  7. Taerrah

    Taerrah New Member


    Thanks for the kind words all. Actually, I got the idea from a book at the library that suggested among other things, to have a history for your MRR. As I was thinking up this history, I got the idea to introduce charactors and have them tell the story. It just kind of evolved from there, and this is my first 'fiction' work. It was fun writing it though. Now if only I could come up with a suitable (for me) track plan...:rolleyes:
  8. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    I don't know about anyone else, but I think I just saw your "track plan" as I read your narrative. A point to point from Makyalla to No Name City. A "trestle-tunnel-hanging-on-to-the-cliffs-of-the-Sierra Nevadas-by your fingernails-narrow gauge railroad". The people, the places, the history, you already have that. All you need to do is build it in scale. Take the images from your story, and make them "real". I can't help but believe it would be a thing of beauty!
  9. Taerrah

    Taerrah New Member

    Thanks Pete, I think you got the picture!
  10. Good story, Taerrah :p

    I did something similar for my Central Missouri & Southern. It really helped me "see" my layout as a real place once I started naming the towns, the people, and the features, and giving all of them a "history."

    I think Pete's got the right idea for your trackplan.
  11. Matthyro

    Matthyro Will always be re-membered

    The BEST mrr story I hae seen anywhere.
    Thanks for posting it Taerrah

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