Narrow Gauge North


Blackhawk House

An On30 layout by Ian Drummond 
Scale 7mm/1ft 
Gauge 16.5mm 
Size 10' x 6'

Blackhawk House was the Engine House (American term for engine shed) of the Gilpin Gold Tram, which served many of the mines of Gilpin County in Colorado , USA . This 2ft gauge line was constructed in several phases staring in 1887, and eventually the line was some twenty six miles long. It twisted and climbed all over Gilpin County with steep gradients, in places at least 1 in 20, and sharp curves, the tightest of which was reputed to have been 50ft radius on the main line. Sadly thought the line was relatively short lived, closing in 1917. The story of the line was related in the March/April 2006 edition of the magazine "Narrow Gauge World". The model supposes that in fact the line survived longer, being purchased by a large mining company, which brought in some additional motive power to supplement the line's original Shay geared locomotives. At the centre of the layout is Blackhawk House which was in fact a converted barn, and serves as the main engineering facility on the line. The main line climbs and curves round the Engine House on a series of wooden trestles. These were so close to the Engine House that when the line acquired larger locomotives, part of the roof of the barn had to be cut away to allow the engines to pass. To the front of the layout there is a line leading away to the warming house. In winter trains of gold ore were placed in the warming house overnight, in order to thaw out, the low temperatures often completely freezing the ore inside the hopper wagons. The line now operates a range of locomotives including Shays and Climax's, as well as a couple of early railtrucks. Operation of the layout is by a DCC system which allows for individual sound for each locomotive.