LOCATION: Central Austin
SCALES: HO, HOn3, N, and G
SIZE: 60' x 26'
OPERATING SESSIONS: Regular, 6-25 operators
The large HO/HOn3 scale railroad models the Denver and Rio Grande Western Moffat Route as faithfully as possible (even in this big room, only one percent of the route from Denver to Salt Lake City can be modeled). Most of the layout has scenery, and more is being added each day.

Trains climb through the Rocky Mountains with signals and CTC. The layout features 17-foot long trains with helpers, 40-inch minimum radius curves, number 10 turnouts, and a maximum 1% grade. The trains climb up through the Tunnel District (9 tunnels are modeled on this side of the mountain range), up to eye-level at the Moffat Tunnel (with ventilation building animation), drop helpers "on the fly", and down again through Gore Canyon (another 7 tunnels, all modeled from photographs).

In addition, David’s son Sam has an operating N scale layout. Although still in school, Sam is a serious model railroader and railfan, and a member of the NMRA, the Operations Special Interest Group (OpSig), AustNTrak, and SanTrak. His layout is also a work in progress, but the branch line up to the mine is very cool – be sure to push the plunger on the dynamite detonator!

Finally, the Nicastros also have a garden railroad loop in the front yard with 10-foot high steel bridges.

C&P Track Plan
Click to enlarge

Changed track alignment
Just like the prototypes do, David changed the track alignment coming out of the yard so switching interfered less with trains arriving or departing. To add a touch of realism, he left the old switch frog in place.

Speed car
David found this nifty little car that gives an accurate speed reading, which he's found much better for speed matching than using a section of track with sensors.

Manual switch control
One of David's outstanding control panels.

Derails marking magnets
A great idea: using derail switch stands to mark where magnets are under the roadbed.

Dispatcher panel
David's virtual dispatcher's panel
Heading down

Busy yard in Denver

Turntable and engine house

Coaling Tower

Denver Union Terminal

Demolition Work

Ready to leave the yard

Ground targets

Piggyback Yard

Fire Clay Industrial Complex

Switching the industries

Threading Tunnels

Highball to the tunnel

Almost there

East portal

Through the snow

Waiting for the storm

Zephyr heading to Salt Lake

Hugging the mountain

Sam's N-Scale Layout

Sam has a growing N-Scale layout as well. Check out the dynomite blaster!

Sam's N-Scale layout

The Garden Loop

There's also a large scale garden loop running outside, anywhere from a few feet to several yards above the ground. It connects to tracks running under the layout inside as well.

The garden loop

The garden loop