Module: Cascade, ID

Cascade, Idaho. Is consists of eight segments and has a total length of about six meters. It has three industry tracks with a total of about 14 spots, a three meter long passing siding and a wye to connect a to a branch or turn trains.

The prototype

Photo: RICHARD STEINHEIMER, 1960s, private collection

Cascade in Idaho is a small town located near Lake Cascade. In 1914 the Oregon Short Line Railroad extended their line from Emmett via Smiths Ferry to Cascade. In Cascade was a busy lumber mill, Hallack & Howard Company, that created most of the traffic on that branch. A standard depot has been build and operated. After Cascade the track passed over the north fork of the north fork of the Payette River. After the river the line continued in a horse-shoe bend and climbed 30 meters to continue along the north shore to McCall. This track is not in place any more.


In 1948 the Cascade Dam, built for power supply, was finished. It created a large reservoir, called Lake Cascade. It feeds the north fork of the Payette River, which leads around Cascade and is depicted in the bridge module at the far end of my module. In 1960 Boise Cascade took over the Sawmill, which was operated until 2002.

The Module

I started building this module in summer 2016. It is my first module. It was finished (kind of) in late 2019. It was the first module I built but not the first one I finished. The module consists of six segments with and additional curve of 60° built of two further segments. All three connections are comply to the FREMO americaN standard. The passing siding supports the meeting of trains with a length of 3 m each and the Wye, which was a 400 m stub track in the prototype, can be used to connect further modules.

Trackplan for the Cascade module (dark) with two extensions.

Cascade has been used in multiple roles during some meets now. Sometimes it serves as the final station of a branch and the wye is used to turn trains. In other occasions the wye served as a connection to branch line with light or even heavy traffic. In one modular meeting it connected the Haslingen Steel Mill.

Switching Cascade

Its not always that busy, but someone wanted to run trains with 70 cars.

Switching cascade is interesting, sometimes slightly challenging but not too complicated. For the first meet, we decided to use the “siding” as a main. To the left this selected main track is reached by running straight through a #10 turnout. On segment 5 it is the diverging track of another #10 turnout. Due to this definition a local can reach all spurs in Cascade without fouling the main track. This relieves the stress from the crew and ensures smooth operation for passing trains.

The module It has four spurs with spots to be served but not every spot is served every day. No matter what direction your train is coming from, one of the spurs is always facing you. Thus you have do a run a round move or – if working on a turn – serve it on the way back.

The Industries

Team Track

Looking over cascade and other modules in the far. Module totalling more than 10 m straight track. The team track to the left, with a few cars spotted. A 30 car refer extra is waiting on the siding to let a passenger train pass.

On segment one is a team track. The team track receives fuel in tank cars, coal in gondolas and might ship wood for poles occasionally.

House Track

The Depot features a double ended house track. The house track is situated between the legs of the wye and passes behind the Depot. It may even be used, if the wye itself is not attached to the module. This track occasionally receives a car or two. Sometimes a car arrives late and it is getting quite full. During some meets the Planner uses this track to store an express or passenger car to be switch by a passing passenger train.

Hallack & Howard Lumber Company

Lumber Warehouse served in the eighties.

The saw mill is the major industry on this module. It receives six to nine empty cars every day and ships the same number of loads to different customers. A double ended spur, connected to the main line, leads to the warehouse. A second stub ended spur serves as a loading track for bulk and oversize loads. During most meets woodchip gondolas are loaded at that track.

How it all came into beeing

It took about three years to build and complete this module. You can read more about the construction module in my Building-Cascade series.