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SVNO: Scajaquada Valley Northern Railway

The Scajaquada Valley Northern is a fictional short line railroad serving remote communities in a Northern and Mountain region in North America. The initial nationality was going to be Canadian, however it could easily be located in the Adirondaks or Northern Maine. The railroad draws a large amount of inspiration from the Ontario Northland Railroad which serves Northern Ontario well, and provides not only the only land link to several Northern Communities which are otherwise inaccessible, but also Whistle Stop / Flag Stop passenger service to remote areas. The Whistle Stop / Flag Stop service is a hold over from the early Steam days when passengers could stop a train anywhere to board or disembark.


Operations on the Scajaquada Valley Northern include mixed freight service to multiple towns, passenger service on the main line, and unit service from mine locations to interchange with a Class 1 railroad connection.

Simulated Operation:

As far as Model Railroad Operations goes, I plan on using two separate operating schemes for sessions. One system will be the complex version meant for serious role play sessions. It will include car cards and other traditional model railroad operations elements. However the plan is for the system to be fully digital.

Color Tack Operations:

The second method will be to use a 'color tack' system. This is the system I first learned about model railroad operations with. It may not be fully realistic, but it turns the whole operating session into more of a puzzle game, than a simulation. On YouTube some people have come up with similar versions of this that they call the Train Game. Similar to the Train Game, each Industry on the layout, including yards, has a color or set of colors painted on one or two of the ties leading up to the industry. For each track space that can hold a single car within such industry, a thumb tack is painted with similar colors to represent that industry. There will only be enough thumb tacks painted for each industry to sustain how many track spaces there are for that industry. So if there is a siding that can hold 3 cars at an industry, that industry will only have 3 thumb tacks painted for it.

At the beginning of a operating session, someone will go around the layout with the box of thumb tacks, and randomly place thumb tacks on each rail car in specially created holders for them. The rail cars then will all be marked with painted markings, which will indicate where they must end up at the end of the session. Sometimes, in the case of larger industries or yards, there will be cars that must stay there, other times there will be cars that must go everywhere.

This method results in some extreme switching puzzles and a fair amount of fun, without having to think much about paperwork. The only downside about this method is that it can sometimes result in unrealistic operations, like a corn syrup tanker car ending up at a coal mine, for example. But fun excuses can always be made to justify strange moves, on the fly if you have a sense of humor and imagination.

Often the Yardmaster is essential in this mode, as randomized cars will have to be sorted into different trains for different routes at some point during the session.


The Scajaquada Valley Northern originated in the 1871 and existed as a successful short line through 1933. However the depression caused hardships, and the winter of 1932/1933 was harsh on the trackage. Many bridges were damaged and there were several washouts that spring. The line was closed down but not forgotten. Canadian National Railways had been tasked with maintaining the service to Valleybrook, Harrington, and Riverview Forge due to the importance of the Iron operations. It took many months for the CN to repair the damaged track, and infrastructure, but rail service was restored by 1934. Service was abandoned to Cedar Creek, and Thornhill however.

In 1990 a young truck drive named Douglas Hartford was transporting a load in a remote Northern region and broke down. With no other traffic passing him for hours and no radio communications or cell phone service, Douglas began walking the road towards the nearest settlement which was the village of Ora, several miles down the road. It was then that he noticed the overgrown Right of Way, and the still remaining rails, with weeds entangled among them. He was inspired to look into the Right of Way's history and found that it serviced Cear Creek, and Harrington Springs. He was on a supply run to a mine near present day Stonebridge when he encountered this.

Being a rail enthusiast himself, and also seeing the potential of such a line, he purchased the rights to it in 1991 for $1 from the government which had been retaining the Right of Way. But the contract gave him five years to bring the Right of Way back up to a functioning line. He also found out that the rights included track which was currently operated by Canadian National, including the line from Vandorf through Valleybrook, to Harrington Springs, and also the branch line to Riverview Forge and also an abandoined right of way to Thornhill. This meant clearing the lines of brush, repairing the rail, and restoring the crossings to modern standards. Service had to be restored to Thornhill and Cedar Creek within 5 years to satisfy the contract.

Douglas sold his big rig, and purchased the old MLW RS-3, and the three CN GP9's which were left in the Harrington Springs yard. The locomotives were acquired for only $18,000.

Douglas also purchased a flat car, a gondola and a backhoe, and began to clear the the track with some of his friends and associates to help him. Once sections of the track were cleared, Douglas rented MOW equipment and began replacing ties, and rejuvenating the ballast. Douglas was able to receive funding from the government to assist with bridge infrastructure improvements which were often contracted out. In some cases the bridges had been completely washed out, and in all other cases the bridges were so far gone that they needed replacement anyhow. There are a handful of small tunnels on the line as well which were still solid. But did not allow over height cars to pass.

As Douglas renewed a section of track he was able to earn trust in local businesses, and began serving them. He also was offered incentives to provide service into the Northern regions by some of the mining companies and also the Community of Cedar Creek. The government offered a major incentive for him to complete and maintain service to Cedar Creek. The line was improved to Class 2 standards with a max speed of 25 mph, from the CN interchange to Cedar Creek by the Summer of 1994.

The federal government funded the construction of a grain terminal at Cedar Creek in 1999 to allow exports to reach a shipping lane and avoid congested urban centers. The terminal is medium sized due to space limitations in Cedar Creeks geography and port, but it is sufficient enough to fill one ship a week.


The main line extends North from a CN Rail interchange at Vandorf Station (milepost 0), to the port town of Cedar Creek (milepost 120), 120 miles North. It is split into 2 halves at the town Lumber town of Harrington Springs (milepost 62), which is also the railroad's main hub. Valleybrook is located at milepost 28, and is a Iron town. On the Stonebridge Branch, extending North West at milepost 73, the town of Stonebridge hosts an active Copper mine and concentrator which provides loads of copper concentrate. The Thornhill branch line located at milepost 48, extends 31 miles East from Harrington Springs. It serves the town of Riverview Forge where a iron processing plant is located at milepost 19 of the branch line. The terminus of the branch line is Thornhill which was an old coal mining town which now hosts a chemical plant and manufacturing plant.

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