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Bob Rodriguez’s Nickel City Line     June 22, 2019 

Photos and article by John Paganoni, MMR

Bob’s Nickel City Line is a freelanced railroad that runs through the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania in the late 1990s. The railroad had the original primary purpose of hauling coal and ore from the owner’s mining interests. The line was then expanded to move goods and services. Bob’s model railroad empire encompasses all of the three business ventures and he has accomplished this feat realistically, which makes operating sessions genuinely realistic. This layout is focused on operations and Bob hosts six to nine sessions annually. NMRA members who operate on this magnificent layout can, over time, actually earn full credit toward achieving a Chief Dispatcher Merit award.

Bob started this modeling venture in a 12’ x 20’ area in his basement, and through negotiations with his spouse, was able to lease the entire area of their basement. Although the layout was “completed” in 1997, he has added the last available basement space of another 7’ X 24’ in 2019. This new addition includes a coal washing plant, relocation of staging yards, plus other additions to make an already excellent operations-based layout even more challenging. There are over 20 scale miles of trackage and his classification yard, turntable, and roundhouse facilities are truly exceptional.

Businesses for railroad revenue are vital to a prototype railroad and it is a realistic feature for an operations centered model railroad. Bob has done a splendid job featuring 106 industries serviced by his railroad, including coal, ore mining, and fabrication plants. Towns such as Canova and Chessie City add interest and purpose and Bob has carefully designed his layout to include eight stations and passenger stops along the line.

Bob has taken the operations environment to the extreme. He has designed and installed a lighting system that truly brings realism to operations. He can set the system for full daylight, late evening/early morning, and night operations. With the aid of his excellent fast clock system, he can incorporate various lighting schemes to challenge operators to the maximum. A major feature of the Nickel City Line’s operations capability is a spectacular Chief Dispatchers office. The electronic panel shows virtually all of the train movements occurring on the layout at any given time allowing the Chief Dispatcher to make real time decision with maximum safety in the forefront. There are seven PABX phone stations which include Dispatcher, Yardmaster, Hostler, Laurel Valley, Nickel City East, Dubois, and the Dispatcher–Track Authority Desk.

This write up only touches the surface of features on this fantastic layout. You need to see it to believe it! This is a layout all model railroaders MUST put on their “bucket list”. If you get the opportunity to see, or operate, on Bob’s Nickel City Line DO IT!!

Bob’s web site is outstanding and I encourage all who read this layout tour summary to look it up: http://nclrr.potomac-nmra.org/index.htm

Last modified: November 09 2019 14:23:10.