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Alternative Operating Sessions

Quincy & Torch Lake No. 6 powers a freight; the way things normally look on the layout.

Alternative Operating Sessions

January/February 2024by Dr. Gregg Condon, MMR/photos by Todd Condon

Sometimes — just in the interest of pure goofy fun — Pat Thoney and I host an alternative operating session on his On30 Quincy & Torch Lake layout (see “Operations on Pat Thoney’s Quincy & Torch Lake Railroad” in the September/October 2022 GAZETTE). What kind of alternative? I take my small fleet of Mineral Point & Northern locomotives and cars to Pat’s layout. Yes, many of you know my layout is HOn3 and it portrays the Rio Grande Southern.

Being a total immersion narrow gauger, I’m not tied to HOn3. I’ve also built models in On3, HOn30, and On30. I’ve built a goodly number of O scale structures that are just waiting for a layout upon which to find a footing, and I have enough completed locomotives and rolling stock to launch an On30 layout any day! Will I? My wife says I can never tear down my HOn3 RGS and that I should add a shop room to the side of our garage to house an On30 layout. I keep dragging my feet, but she may yet win the debate! I’m only 76; I may get around to building room-size Layout Number Nine yet.

So, sometimes we run Thoney’s Quincy & Torch Lake as if the Quincy Mining Company had not built its own common carrier Q&TL. In this alter-native scenario we imagineer that a separate railroad was built to serve the Quincy Mine and adjacent places. This railroad is the Mineral Point & Northern. The prototype MP&N was a 30-mile line in Wisconsin’s lead and zinc region, and it lasted from 1905 to 1930. Might they also have owned a mining railroad in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula? Well, Michigan’s mighty Calumet & Hecla copper mining company also had a Wisconsin lead mine in the region of the MP&N. We’re somewhere in the realm of credibility.

ABOVE: Railfanning near the Calumet & Hecla overpass, we hear diminutive locomotive exhausts. It’s the northbound passenger. No doubt about it, this Forney is narrow gauge.

Setting Up the Session
The alternative MP&N op session entails no major juggling of things on Pat’s layout. The half-dozen Q&TL locomotives are shuttered in the roundhouse. Cabooses line a track next to the roundhouse. Enough of Pat’s cars are taken off the layout to make way for mine. My fleet is manageable: three engines, two passenger cars, a caboose, six miscellaneous freight cars, and 18 rock cars. Most Q&TL rock cars stay on the layout; their only lettering is numbers, so they perfectly blend in with the MP&N cars.

All of Pat’s Q&TL forms and procedures remain in effect. The line-up of MP&N trains is simpler than in Pat’s sessions. On “MP&N Night” we run a morning and an afternoon passenger train round trip. The Climax makes up two rock trains and a local freight, and it makes the short run out of town to dump poor rock. Road trains are the two rock trains and the peddler freight, and those are handled by the 0-6-0. Based on how the timing of things works out, the Climax might run one of the rock trains to the mills…

January/February 2024Read the rest of this article in the Jan/Feb 2024 issue of Narrow Gauge & Short Line Gazette. Subscribe Today!