The figures are from Scenic Express. 

Hobo Encampment

Nestled near the tracks of the Union Pacific in Southern Nevada, some down on their luck guys have converted
abandoned structures into a makeshift home.

In the mid-1950s, the Union Pacific Railroad served Las Vegas with six Streamliners per day.

In 1971, with the elimination of a separate Union Pacific Depot, and the creation of Amtrak, regular passenger rail service to Las Vegas was suspended.

In 1979, Amtrak reestablished regular passenger rail service to Las Vegas with a train known as the Desert Wind. A portion of the Union Plaza Hotel's lobby served as a passenger depot for Amtrak for 18 year, when in 1997, regular passenger rail service to Las Vegas was once again stopped.

McDonald's - Downey, California,

circa 1960s

The following photos show most of the details that we have added to Downey California. Downey is where you will find the world's oldest operating McDonald's restaurant and the site of the first Taco Bell eatery. It is also where the "P" in B&P grew up in the 1950s.

As you may note, it is Wednesday afternoon just after work and several members of the local Corvette Club, and other car enthusiasts are gathering in front of the McDonald's.

The McDonald's is from MTH, removed from its base. The other structures are from OGR. Figures are a mixture from several sources including Scenic Express and WeHonest available on eBay.

Commerce Maintenance Yard

In 2010, when we first conceived the California side of the B&P Railroad model train layout, our design includedwhat we described three years ago as an engine maintenance/storage area for our locomotives.

With a little research we found that the Union Pacific has a major yard operation in Commerce California, a small city in Los Angeles County, east of the City of Los Angeles. We decided to use the Commerce name for our UP maintenance area.

This portion of the layout includes a 30" (120' O Scale) turntable that was built from scratch. You can see more detail about how we built the turntable at B&P O Gauge Turntable.

The Four-Stall Roundhouse was scratch built, as described in B&P 2

How we created three distinct loops of B&P mainline track instead of the original two is explained below.

Our plan involves dividing the longer "upper/outer" folded dog bone mainline in a way that would allow three trains to continuously operate as if they are on three separate loops of track.

This involves the use of four new turnouts (switches). The end result would also provide two additional track sidings, one approximately eleven feet long, the other approximately five feet in length (following diagram).

South-Western Railroad

As noted elsewhere on our site, in the 1950s Las Vegas residents often witnessed the atmospheric detonation of Nuclear Bombs less than 100 miles North of Downtown's Fremont Street. This is depicted on the Nevada portion of the B&P South-Western Railroad, in the above photo. The following two photos were taken in the early and mid 1950s, looking North toward the Sheep Mountains, from the Fremont Street area.

It is now May 9, 2014, and work continues to create the B&P South-Western's Third Mainline.

The following two photos show the "Concrete Arch" bridge that is part of the B&P's new outer, medium length loop that encircles the entire layout. The first of the two photos depicts most of the completed terrain features. All that remains is track detailing and ballasting. 

We have recently added a more modest lighted UP sign to the B&P South-Western's Las Vegas rail yard.

The connecting rod assembly consists of eight separate pieces.

The B&P strongly supports the great work of the Salvation Army, the United Service Organizations (USO), and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).

In our Home Town, Las Vegas, Nevada, the USO Centers at McCarran International Airport is generously supported by the Union Pacific Railroad. 

Southern California Oil Fields

If you grew up in Southern California during the 1940s, `50s and `60s, it was impossible not to see working oil wells in action. Anywhere you traveled across Southern California there were working oil wells pumping away.

It is still true today. However, many are disguised within buildings that blend in with their surroundings.

To depict our memories of Southern California's oil fields we have installed two scale models of the Lufkin oil pump. The first Lufkin oil pumps were installed in Texas in 1922. With over 100,000 installed, modern versions of the Lufkin oil pump remain in operation today.

Our O Scale model is from Alexander Scale Models. This model kit consists of "soft metal castings" that reminded Bob of some of his early 1950s HO locomotives.

The proper assembly of this model kit requires above average modeling skills, and small hand tools for working with highly detailed soft metal castings. The following photos give you an idea of the types of parts and assembly involved.

The following assembly consists of 16 metal castings.

In the first week of October 2013, we had our first Fall snow on the higher elevations of Mount Charleston. The following early morning photo was taken from the B&P's North-West Las Vegas perspective.

Final three photos show final assembly, including "well head" and connecting cables.

Creating a Third B&P South-Western RR Mainline

Work on the third mainline on the B&P South-Western has been completed. The Southern Pacific GS 4, No. 4449 can be seen traversing the new Third Mainline.Creating a Third B&P South-Western RR Mainline

Adding Detail to the B&P South-Western

We have started 2015 by adding detail along the B&P South-Western Railroad on both the California and Nevada Sides of the layout.

Signals Across the B&P South-Western

According to Trains magazine, "Railroad color-light signals consist of three bulbs shinning through three lens or "roundels," one each red, yellow and green. Typically, they are grouped vertically with green at the top, exactly the opposite of the highway traffic signals that protect road intersections."

"Unlike semaphore lights, color-light signals are fitted with visors so sunlight reflections will not give false readings. The Union Pacific Railroad fits its "tri-light" signals with large hoods for this purpose."

We have added six (6) Z-Stuff for Trains DZ-1050 3-Color Trackside Signals along the B&P. The Z-Stuff signals contain their own senors, and are assembled with black plastic and silver metal pieces. To make our signals appear prototypical, we painted many of the black plastic surfaces silver. See the following four (4) photos.

The rocking beam assembly consist of six metal castings.

Continued Top of Right Column

The Union Pacific EMD SD 70 is a Scale Lionel with Odyssey Command Control, Speed Control and Rail Sounds.

The Union Pacific (UP) F-3 A Unit is a Scale K-Line with TMCC, Cruise and Rail Sounds. It is supported by a UP F-3 B Unit (Scale MTH) and a consist of UP City of Los Angeles passenger cars by MTH.

The Union Pacific "Local" passenger train is headed by a Scale K-Line 4-6-2 Pacific Locomotive with TMCC, Cruise and Rail Sounds, and a consist that includes an unoccupied Head End car, an RPO Car and three Standard Coaches by MTH.

The Southern Pacific 4-8-4 GS-4 is a Semi-Scale K-Line/Lionel with TMCC and Rail Sounds.

The AmTrak locomotive is a Scale K-Line EMD F40PH, with TMCC, Cruise and Rail Sounds.

The Metrolink locomotive is a Scale K-Line EMD F59PHI, with TMCC, Cruise and Rail Sounds.
You will see the above described locomotives and consists elsewhere on this page. As added, additional equipment will be identified.

Fremont Street, Downtown Las Vegas

See our Viva Las Vegas Video celebrating Fremont Street, circa Late `50s, Early `60s.

Fremont Street, Downtown Las Vegas, Nevada circa 1960 was lined with one, two and three story nondescript buildings adorned with a multitude of brightly lit signs.

The Mushroom Cloud was created on the layout by first printing several 8" X 10" color photos of the real nuclear tests in Southern Nevada. The most suitable photo was selected and carefully cut and fitted to a piece of poster board to replicate the surrounding area and clear pre-dawn morning sky.

Adding Trackside Details

Much of 2016 was devoted to adding small trackside details, additional railway signs, shrubs, trees, and people as seen in the following photos.



If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail us at: Good luck, and Happy Model Railroading! 

Go to Building the B&P O Gauge Turntable
Go to Home Page

Last Update - January 3, 2017
The various Scenes highlighted on our layout reflect our attempts to depict fond memories of Southern California and Southern Nevada from Post WW II to the Present.

A slide show of all photos on this page is available at the end of the column. is a noncommercial model railroading project dedicated to promoting the enjoyment of toy trains by sharing lessons-learned as we build and operate the B&P South-Western O Gauge Model Railroad.

To see Videos of the B&P South-Western Model Train Layout in action and information about recent activities, go to our YouTube and Facebook pages.

To preview the B&P South-Western Railroad click on this photo.

The B&P's Hollywood sign was created on the layout by first printing several 8" X 10" color photos of the actual Hollywood sign. The most suitable photo was selected and carefully cut and fitted to a piece of poster board to replicate the mountain background.

The structures are by PlasticVille, the figures are from Scenic Express.

Miele & Miele, Inc.

Miele & Miele Embroidery Design & Manufacturing is where the "P" in B&P had her first job as a teenager in Southern California.

Hollywood Sign, Mt. Lee

No scenes of the Los Angeles area would be complete without seeing the Hollywood Sign in the background atop Mt. Lee overlooking the Hollywood area.

Originally, the HOLLYWOODLAND sign was erected in 1924 by a home developer. The HOLYWOODLAND sign remained in place until 1949, when the City of Los Angeles threatened to tear the sign down. As a compromise with local residents, the City agreed that a refurbished, shortened sign, HOLLYWOOD, could stay in place.

Our depot and platforms were "kit-based" using Atlas O structures.

In 1940, a new smaller Art Deco modern design structure was built. In 1940, this Union Pacific Depot was the only fully air-conditioned railroad station in the United States. This depot sat at the end of Fremont Street until 1969, when it was demolished to make room for the new Union Plaza high-rise hotel which opened in 1971.

The following three photos depict the two new bridges necessary to create the B&P's smaller upper inner loop mainline. The first two photos depict the completed terrain features. All that remains is track detailing and ballasting.

Rough assembly of pieces.

A fully restored, operational McKeen Motor Car (Doodlebug), built in the early 1900s is featured at the Nevada Railroad Museum in Carson City (Above Photos).

We had the opportunity to ride on this 100-year-old McKeen Motor Car at the 2013 Lionel Operating Train Society (LOTS) Convention in Reno/Sparks Nevada.

Adding MTH DCS to the B&P South-Western

For Christmas 2015 Bob received all of the electronics necessary to add MTH DCS to the B&P South-Western. Santa also brought him two new MTH locomotives to test the new system.

After reviewing the experience of others who have added DCS to an existing Lionel TMCC layout, Bob decided to follow everyone's advice and initially not make any changes to existing track wiring, instead simply add the MTH DCS electronics.

Once this was done, we immediately had excellent DCS control of our two new MTH locomotives. We also determined that we had no deterioration of our TMCC control over our Lionel locomotives. This was true while simultaneously operating both DCS and TMCC locomotives on the same track at the same time.

As we make additional wiring improvements, we'll report back.

Click here to see an MTH DCS locomotive in action on the B&P South-Western.

B&P South-Western 90 Percent Complete

It's July 14, 2015, and the B&P South-Western will be five years old in September. As of today we believe the layout is 90 percent complete.

The last ten percent will be the constant addition of track side details. As can be seen in the foreground of this photo, we have a lot of empty spaces to fill in. Hopefully this will go on for many years to come.

The Southern Pacific 4-8-4 GS-4 on the turntable is aSemi-Scale K-Line/Lionel with TMCC and Rail Sounds.

Inside the Roundhouse is a Scale K-Line AmTrak F40PH, with TMCC, Cruise and Rail Sounds.

The Union Pacific (UP) F-3 A Unit is a Scale K-Line with TMCC, Cruise and Rail Sounds. It is supported by a UP F-3 B Unit (Scale MTH) and a consist of UP City of Los Angeles passenger cars by MTH.

The Union Pacific "Local" passenger train passing by in the background is headed by a Scale K-Line 4-6-2 Pacific Locomotive with TMCC, Cruise and Rail Sounds, and a consist that includes an unoccupied Head End car, an RPO Car and three Standard Coaches by MTH.

The Union Pacific EMD SD 70 awaiting fuel and water adjacent to the roundhouse is a Scale Lionel with Odyssey Command Control, Speed Control and Rail Sounds.

You will see the above described locomotives and consists elsewhere on this page. As added, additional equipment will be identified.

Figures are from Scenic Express. The Water and Coaling Tower are both from PlasticVille. The Fuel and Water Columns (adjacent to EMD SD 70) are from MTH. The Water Column closer to the Coaling Tower was scratch built with a plastic drinking straw, other small plastic parts, layers of paper, a small length of chain and aged iron textured paint.
Gone Fishing

Two guys and three boys have gone fishing at their favorite fishing hole in Southern Nevada. The Union Pacific's "City of Los Angeles" Streamliner has just departed Las Vegas for Southern California.

Downey, California

In our Downey, California Car Club Night at McDonald's scene we've added three new Miller Engineering signs to building roof tops as seen in the following photo.

Also to be added to the Downey street scene are new street lights. Some of the current LED lights have surprisingly failed. We have new ones on order and will install them shortly.

The new street lights have been installed, and we have converted one of our Downey street scene buildings to a USO Center.

Landscape / Mountains of Southern Nevada

We recently had positive feedback from a YouTube viewer about how the B&P South-Western portrays the desert landscape of Southern Nevada. Unlike the lush forest covering many mountains across North America, the two mountain ranges around the B&P’s home (Spring Mountains on the West, Sheep Mountains on the North) are stark, and except at higher elevations, barren.

We thought we'd share photos of our local mountain views. The first photo is of the Sheep Mountains, approximately 25 miles North of Downtown Las Vegas. The following perspective is approximately ten miles from the base of the mountains. North of the Sheep Mountains is the Nevada Test Site and Area 51. 

Continued Top of Center Column

The following photos show our current work on "kit-bashing" Fremont Street, Downtown Las Vegas circa late 1950s, early 1960s, using Ameri-Towne building kits from OGR. This row of nine buildings, and two single stand alone buildings were created with the parts from seven building kits by using some building kit side walls as front and back walls.

The Fremont Street structures with all of their signage and lighting are complete. Most of the signage was created by having color photographs of real casino signs, printed, cut and mounted. These signs are illuminated with flashing LEDs.

There are six Miller Engineering animated/illuminated signs visible hanging over doorways, in front windows, or free-standing along Fremont Street.

It is a Saturday afternoon in April 1959, and dozens of tourists roam Fremont Street looking for a little weekend fun as a Southern Pacific passenger train passes by overhead.

B&P South-Western Railroad Facts

Layout Room Size: 21.5" X 16.5" 
Layout Size: 21.5' X 15.5' Folded Dog-Bone
Layout Surface Area: 270 Square Feet
Track Type: Atlas O Nickel Silver
Track Running Length: 389 Feet
Upper Mainline Length: 51 Feet
Perimeter Mainline Length: 64 Feet
Folded Dog-Bone Mainline Length: 100 Feet
Track Curves: Three Mainlines 072 - 099 
Track Curves: Sidings/Yards 054 - 072 
Turnouts: 23, Ross-Custom (16), Atlas (7)
Turnout Control: Blue Point Switch Machines - Manually Operated
Turntable: Scratch-Built 120' Scale (30")
Track Power: Lionel TMCC, MTH DCS, 720 watts
Motive Power: Lionel, K-Line, MTH
Rolling Stock: Lionel, K-Line, MTH, Weaver, Menards
Structures: Ameri-Towne, Plasticville, Scratch-Built
Vehicles: Lionel, Historic Rail, MTH, Match Box
Figures: Woodland Scenics, Model Power, WeHonest

The B&P South-Western’s model railroading philosophy is that we are builders and operators, not collectors. We try to stay reasonably close to O Gauge’s 1:48 scale, without being obsessive with every minute detail.

Our layout design philosophy is to maximize the amount of track devoted to railroad mainlines, sidings and rail yards within the given space we have available. While we use Lionel TMCC and MTH DCS to control all of our locomotives, our 23 turnouts (switches) are manually controlled. This requires train operators to move about the layout as they operate their locomotives.

Additionally, we cut off or rounded layout corners to facilitate movement around the layout. These priorities limit the space available for buildings, street scenes, etc. 

Finally, where we can, we try to scratch-build and/or kitbash layout features.

The following descriptions of various Scenes along the B&P South-Western Toy Train Railroad are arranged in order of our most recent layout activity.

More MTH Integration

We converted MTH's Union Pacific DC-3 Rail Inspection Car to a Union Pacific Doodlebug by removing three (3) centrally located "rail-inspection trucks" and changing the UP graphics on both sides and the front and back of the car. This model is the subject of our latest YouTube Video.

Self-powered gasoline and diesel rail cars date back to the late 1800s. In the United States, Doodlebug was the common name for such a rail car.

The term "Doodlebug" was likely given to the first successful motor car, the Union Pacific's McKeen Motor Car, built in 1904-05 (Below Photos). When this motor car arrived for service a switchman looked at the Maroon colored, knife edged nose, gasoline motor car and proclaimed, "Look at the potato bug." While it is not known exactly when the Doodlebug term was coined, it was likely around the same time.

Typically these self-propelled cars had a gasoline or diesel engine that turned a generator which provided electricity to traction motors powering the trucks' axles and wheels. Some Doodlebugs (including the McKeen Motor Cars) had mechanical transmissions geared directly to the axles.

Doodlebugs sometimes pulled an unpowered trailer car as we have depicted in this video. We added two track powered red LEDs to the back of the trailer car. 

Doodlebugs, and later the Budd Rail Diesel Car (RDC) were popular with some railroads during the first half of the 20th century to provide passenger and mail service on lightly used lines.

As a young guy in the late 1940s and early 50s, I often visited family in rural Kansas. On many occasions I observed the distinctive Doodlebugs moving across the prairie.

We have now completed most of the work on our Las Vegas Union Pacific Depot. As was the original, our depot is located with Fremont Street in the background. The following five photos give you a sense of the additional detail we've added. Atop the depot's main building is a Miller Engineering animated sign.

The following photo shows some of the LED, and Miller Engineering wiring inside the Fremont Street kit-bash structure.   

Both Southern California and Southern Nevada are part of the Southwestern United State's Great Mojave Desert. Without water, there is little or no green.

Union Pacific, A Century of Service

to Las Vegas

In 1905, William Andrews Clark, in partnership with the Union Pacific Railroad, completed a railroad line through Las Vegas linking Los Angeles, California with Salt Lake City, Utah. The Union Pacific has continuously maintained a passenger and/or freight presence in Las Vegas since. Today, Union Pacific freight operations are coordinated out of offices located just South of Downtown, just East of Interstate 15.

As you drive North on I-15, approaching downtown Las Vegas, look to the East and you will see the following sign adjacent to the UP offices. 

Both of the "Concrete Arch" bridges are easily removable for room access. Track wiring for the removable bridges is accomplished when machine screws are set with the bridges in place.

Work will continue on track details and the installation of the Blue Point Switch Machines. Once that is done, we'll build and install 12 new Dwarf Signals, three each for each of the turnouts.

One of the layout's existing two folded-dog bone mainlines is unaffected, and will be the longest of the B&P's three mainlines.

Layout Terrain Features Are Now Complete

During November 2013 we completed "below" layout terrain features. This included fabricating a "canyon wall" type backdrop for the bridges connecting the California and Nevada sides of the layout. The two backdrops, visible in the background of each of the following two photos, continue to allow each bridge to be easily removed.

We also painted the layout's perimeter fascia in Earth-tones to match the terrain above.

There are still many, many details to be added to fill most of the remaining open spaces. This is the type of layout work that one hopes will never end.

We have already obtained structures to add a Pawn Shop, Sheriff's Office, and auto repair shop to the end of Fremont Street. Additionally, the Las Vegas UP Yard has a lot of space to add detail.

We also have oil well pump kits to assemble and place on the California side. We will also be adding at least one more structure to California, Len's Burgers. Also, scheduled for California are a variety of loading docks and other track-side details.

Fabric skirting was ordered and delivered. We'll hopefully have the B&P's skirting in place for Christmas.

The following photo is an early 1950s view of Fremont Street, looking West. In it you can clearly see the Union Pacific Railroad Depot at the end of the street.  

B&P Scenes

The following two photos are of the Spring Mountains on the Northwest side of Las Vegas Valley. The highest peak in the Spring Mountains is Mount Charleston, with an elevation of 11,916 feet. Lower elevations of Mount Charleston are also the home of Las Vegas' snow skiing and snowboarding resort

Miele & Miele Structure from OGR.

Nevada Test Site - Mercury, Nevada, Early 1950s

No discussion of Southern Nevada during the 1950s would be complete without noting the impact of the Nevada Test Site. This is where the United States conducted atmospheric nuclear tests for more than a decade less than 100 miles North of Las Vegas.

The test depicted in the twilight of early morning in the following photos, North of the B&P's Las Vegas junction, is "Easy," part of Operation Buster, November 5, 1951.

As a young guy growing up in Los Angeles in the `40s and `50s, Bob often would get up early to witness the flash of light visible from the Nevada Test Site Nuclear Tests approximately 300 miles away.

The light fixture was made with a 3mm LED, mounted in a construction paper cone, with "heat shrink" used to cover the wiring and provide support. The structural sign supports are from Plastruct. The UP Logo is a printed photograph from a "scan" we made of our Miller Engineering animated, lighted UP Depot sign. The print was mounted on a thin sheet of clear plastic and then cut to shape.

Four Generations of Heavy Rail Passenger Service

The following two photos, looking North, show the B&P South-Western Railroad's Las Vegas Yard being visited by heavy rail passenger locomotives and consists spanning more than 80 years of the 20th Century. Union Pacific and Southern Pacific steam locomotives can be seen pulling consists of Heavyweight and Standard passenger cars. Three different diesel locomotives, spanning more than 60 years of rail service can be seen pulling consists of early Union Pacific streamlined passenger cars and modern Amtrak passenger cars built by the Budd Corporation. And in a striking white Metrolink livery, a modern heavy rail EMD commuter diesel pulls Bombardier Bi-Level Coaches. In the background a modern diesel freight locomotive and consist winds its way toward Las Vegas.

The remaining work on the far end of Fremont Street will consist of three more structures. One will be a pawn shop, the second will be a Clark County Sheriff's Office and the third will be an auto repair shop.

As work progresses, we will add additional photos to Fremont Street.

Union Pacific Depot, Las Vegas

Prior to 1940, Las Vegas' Union Pacific Depot was a long yellow colored Spanish-style structure with a red tile roof. It sat at the end of Fremont Street in Downtown Las Vegas. Our Union Pacific Depot will "loosely" replicate Las Vegas' early 20th Century railroad station, at least in its exterior color.

Early evening on Fremont Street as the lights come on.