Gastown and Cascades Railroad National Model Railroad Association

Bob McBean's Gastown and Cascades Railroad
An HO Model Railroad in the 1950’s by Bob McBean

“Gastown” was what early settlers called Vancouver B.C., after Englishman John “Gassy Jack” Deighton built a saloon in 1867 in what is now the heart of downtown Vancouver to serve the loggers and longshoremen in the area. The Cascades are a major mountain range of western North America extending from British Columbia to Northern California.

My early 1950’s HO layout emphasizes scenery rather than operation as it covers from Gastown (where I grew up), through the farming area of the Fraser Valley, into the Cascades (including Hope), terminating through tunnels across the Rockies in Calgary. Logging and coal mining are featured industries. Two cities in the Cascades are represented, Hope and Kamloops, since only in those two did both the Canadian Pacific and the Canadian National railroads meet, although not at the same terminal. My grandfather worked for the CPR near Calgary around 1902 – 1905, hence I model primarily the CP, but in 1959 I traveled across Canada from Toronto to Vancouver on the CN as a “guest” of the Royal Canadian Air Force.

I have built this layout entirely myself, and have given several talks on my approach. The backdrop I painted to hang on the wall like a large picture. The structure was constructed in 4-ft modular lengths to permit the layout to be moved if necessary (not easily of course, but, for example, all wiring goes only from one terminal block to another 4 feet away, and Excel spreadsheets keep track of all data).

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