Dakota Junction is located at the extreme Southwestern end of the Rapid City Pierre and Eastern Railroad. I'll be doing followup posts on the prototype, but this is looking at the excellent qualities of this area to be modeled. To start with, it is an interchange yard and a wye for turning trains. The yard interchanges with the Nebraska, Northwestern Railroad which runs 7.22 miles east into Chadron, Nebraska. The line headed South goes into Crawford, Nebraska, where the BNSF mainline is at. The RCPE will make runs down into Crawford and head back North to Rapid City, dropping off and picking up cars at the interchange with the NNW. As for the NNW, the railroad hosts a grain loader in Chadron and has a large yard that is busy repairing cars. The RCPE may sometimes bring cars down to be repaired, but most of the rail cars seem to be coal gondolas for the BNSF.
But our focus on this post is just on the junction, which we can see via Google Maps:
This small piece of the railroad serves a very vital function, equally important to all three railroads. For the Rapid City Pierre and Eastern, Dakota Junction is an interchange with the NNW and a continuation to Crawford, Nebraska with it's interchange with the BNSF.
For the Nebraska Northwestern, Dakota Junction is the lifeline for the railroad, with all traffic going through the junction.
And for the BNSF, it receives and gives cars via Dakota Junction and it provides the link for the railroad to an important short line that fixes it's cars, which would have to be shipped hundreds of miles to the nearest repair facility large enough to handle all the coal gondolas that wear out.
So what would this look like as a model?
To accurately model this section of the line as an independent railroad, I'll need access to staging at three points, to look something like this:
All in all, I think this would make an excellent show layout.
Here's what I envision as a layout:
But what if someone doesn't like wiring for reverse loops? This layout could still operate without a wye, and operations might be a bit more interesting!
Using a 32" by 80" door for a platform, this small layout captures the operation of Dakota Junction without the use of a wye or reverse loop.
Rapid City Pierre and Eastern trains can come down from the top and either continue directly South to Crawford, or head around the layout only to loop back through the crossing after passing through the interchange yard.
Nebraska Northwestern trains have to come through the interchange yard in order to access either the RCPE line or the shared trackage south to Crawford, Nebraska.