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Author Topic: The Dolly Varden Mines Railway in On30  (Read 30181 times)
danpickard
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« on: April 23, 2009, 05:05:07 AM »

So I finally got around to getting this subject on the forum...

Starting back over 2 years ago now, myself and my good modeling mate John Hunter, decided we wanted to slap together a new exhibition layout.  We both had some knowledge of the Dolly Varden Mines, thanks largely to the book "Steel Rails and Silver Dreams".  The photos in that little slice of history are just superb modelling subjects, so the challenge was on.  2 years ago we presented a clinic at the 2007 Australian NGC in Melbourne, on ideas to reality and the plans to build the DVMR.  Now, just this last Easter, the 2009 Australian NGC was held in Sydney (our convention is a second yearly event), and we packed it all in the trailer for the 2000km from Melbourne to Sydney and back.

The layout measured in at just over 28' long, built in 5 sections, with a small water extension at the front of the wharf.  We were very happy with how it all travelled, with only 1 tree falling over, plus minimal folliage loss.  Thought it was time to get some of the pics on these pages though, but firstly...a crash course in history!

Dolly Varden Mines Railway, located at the town of Alice Arm, British Columbia.  Back in around 1900, some mining prospects were staked near the town after discovery of silver.  Those stakes were only about 4 miles from the town because the terrain of the area was a bit "difficult".  A raging icy Kitsault River, verticle cliffs, thick forests, freezing winters, permanent ice fields...it wasn't no resort town!  In 1910 however, a group of prospectors ventured up the valley in search of riches.  18 miles up the mountain they discovered a rich strain of silver ore, and so claimed the site of the Dolly Varden Mines.

It was later decided that a 3' narrow gauge railway would be the best way to service the mines.  Hasty construction started on the basis of very rough estimates with very little survey work on the right of way.  Consequently, the budget for the railways construction was a farce, with massive blow outs before even reaching the half way mark.  Money was scarce, the winter was cold, the working conditions were shocking.  The line was steep, with tight curves and minimal clearances with the many rock cuttings.  "Build it quick and build it cheap" was the underlying motto, and this was reflected when the inspectors came to review the line.  The track was too light, mostly unballasted, often out of gauge, the locos were too small, most of them condemned etc etc

Amongst the cheap construction, blackmail was happening over sales of the railway with court cases eventuating to decide who will take ownership of the finacial mess.  Operating costs were high, and the price of silver had crashed.  Eventually the railway did earn its operating certificate in mid 1921, but was shut down due to huge finacial losses, officially an operating railway for around 6-8 weeks.  Some minor operations continued on the line there after, but the actual Dolly Varden operation was a bankrupt mess.  Some logging operations occurred for a few years to try and salvage some dollars, but that work only lasted a few years as well.  Eventually the metal scrappers moved in around 1937, and evidence of what was potentially the richest deposits of silver in the world were erased forever.

If you need to know the full story, do yourself a huge favour and track down the book "Steel Rails & Silver Dreams" by Darryl Muralt (Benchmark Publishing, now reprinted just recently).  It was our bible in building this layout.  The photos are stunning, and all references to this layout, with many of the scenes recreated in our version.  Cool story, cool pictures...they flogged the book when it was first released as "a railway crying out to be modelled"...damn right, thats why we did it!!!


Dan Pickard
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danpickard
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« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2009, 05:13:24 AM »

Bit of a journey up the line then.
John was resposible for the first 2 modules, covering the wharf, Dolly Varden House, the ore bunker at the water front, and the highline spur with the housing along side it.














Dan Pickard
« Last Edit: January 15, 2011, 03:16:20 PM by danpickard » Logged

danpickard
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« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2009, 05:19:31 AM »

The middle module was considered a transition module, where Johns scenery would meet with mine.  Ended up I did most of the middle module...just got carried away.  I also had the section with the large rock cutting, Camp 8 and the powerhouse, sacking shed and mine tipple at the end of the line.



















Dan Pickard
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danpickard
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« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2009, 05:25:35 AM »

As part of the Narrow Gauge Convention, John and I hosted a 1 hour presentation on the building journey behind this new layout.  It was more of an informal Q&A session.  Thats me (Dan) pictured on the left, and John Hunter pictured on the right.



Probably the funniest comment from the weekend goes to Gerry Cornwell of Mt Albert Timber, who attended the show and also ran a clinic..."Can't believe I have to travel all the way to Australia to see a decent Canadian prototype"...thanks Gerry  Grin

Thanks for looking,
Dan Pickard
(and also on behalf of my modelling partner, John Hunter)
« Last Edit: April 23, 2009, 05:27:15 AM by danpickard » Logged

lab-dad
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« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2009, 06:42:52 AM »

HA!
I'm the first one here! I get to use all the superlatives!
Awesome, cool, great, wonderful, spectacular!
I love all the detail!
So many things I want to use!
Thanks for sharing!
More please!
-Marty
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Scratchman
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« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2009, 10:00:59 AM »

Dan and John,that is a great little railway.

Gordon Birrell

http://www.flickr.com/photos/77318580@N00/

 
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shropshire lad
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« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2009, 12:02:03 PM »

How would Uncle Russ put it ?  Adequate , I think . Well , even he might become exited and call it " very adequate".
  Of course, the rest of us know how to complement someone properly , so I'm going to say that it is a " Spiffing " layout and it is a shame that it is situated in the wrong place . Any chance of a World Tour ?

  You both can teach the rest of us a thing or two about how to do a layout properly.

  Well done , chaps ,

   Nick
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finescalerr
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« Reply #7 on: April 23, 2009, 01:46:23 PM »

Actually, Nick, the word coming to mind is "gorgeous". But, to avoid disappointment, let me add the following: An outstandingly adequate layout.

And perhaps a less heartfelt compliment: I want to publish a long article about it. Dan, can you guys get back to me on that?

Russ
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marc_reusser
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« Reply #8 on: April 23, 2009, 02:52:20 PM »

I will say wonderful!!!...and reiterate everone else's superlatives as well. Thank you so much for posting this here...glad to finally get to see the result of all your hard work...I am sure I will have questions as I further stare at the photos of this.

Marc
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danpickard
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« Reply #9 on: April 23, 2009, 03:26:23 PM »

Thankyou all for the kind comment.

Marty,
Gold medal for first comment (which was a nice one too, saving the sarcastic notes for later are you? Grin)

Nick,
World tour unlikely at this stage, since in moving it to Sydney and back blew nearly twice our estimated fuel budget, so definately local shows only for the time being...unless the big dollars make long trips more affordable.  Both John and I live quite a way from our 'local' Melbourne, in I'm about an hour from the city, John about 2-3 hours out...we actually live around 200 miles apart, which is what made the build all the more interesting.  The NGC was the first time the whole set up has been together in on piece.

Russ,
We actually felt it was a little less than adequate...the wharf needs to be another 2-3' longer and we wanted another module near the middle, but this is all we could fit in our trailers.  As it is, the centre trestle module lies flat in the back of my wagon.  We would be much obliged to send you something for print.  I need to do a new set of photos again at our next exhibition, after realising I barely took any shots of Climax#7 running the line, our main loco.  Small oversight, but easily fixed I guess...will be in further contact about that one.

Marc,
Questions always welcome, I think you we're one of the guys here that asked where the photos were, along with Chuck...where's he, did he sleep in?

Cheers,
Dan


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TRAINS1941
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« Reply #10 on: April 23, 2009, 03:38:23 PM »

Dan & John

How would Uncle Russ put it ?  Adequate , I think . Well , even he might become exited and call it " very adequate".

 Actually, Nick, the word coming to mind is "gorgeous". But, to avoid disappointment, let me add the following: An outstandingly adequate layout.

Dan & John what there both trying to say is this may be a perfect layout.
Most "EXCELLENT" both of you!!

Jerry

 
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George Carlin
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« Reply #11 on: April 26, 2009, 11:05:13 AM »

Starting back over 2 years ago now, myself and my good modeling mate John Hunter, decided we wanted to slap together a new exhibition layout. 

I think you're being overly modest when you say "slapped together"... very nicely done.

Paul
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Frederic Testard
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« Reply #12 on: April 26, 2009, 03:02:30 PM »

Dan, it is an outstanding model railroad. I think that the use of 30" gauge track even improves the mood (as compared to the prototypical 3' gauge) by making the railroad look tinier (or more tiny ; choice left to grammar-aware members...). All this Dolly Varden venture was completely mad, anyway (not your layout, but the real thing in the early 1900s).
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Frederic Testard
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« Reply #13 on: April 26, 2009, 05:48:23 PM »

I'll add fabulous to the superlatives here. The foliage, details and finishes are just super. Congrats on an absolutely wonderful build and thanks for sharing.
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Chuck Doan
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« Reply #14 on: April 27, 2009, 12:19:27 PM »

Just getting up, had a bit of a lie in...

I've enjoyed seeing this come together. It is one of my favorite prototypes, and you guys did a great job of representing it. Didin't you use one of those photo frames thingys to show historical pictures?
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