Layout Tour: Milwaukee Road Electric Territory at Avery, Idaho.
At a recent NMRA layout tour in Marin County, I visited an exceptionally detailed layout that depicted the Milwaukee Road’s (MILW) route through Avery Canyon, which was one of a handful of places in the nation that ran electric freight. The era is pre-world war two, with only steam and electrics depicted on the layout. The terrain is realistically sparse river plains that weave the mainline into and across Avery Canyon.
MILW 2-6-2 and roundhouse at Avery, ID
All the motive power is brass, that has been heavily modified and rebuilt to run reliably and look super detailed. Most of the freight cars surprisingly enough were either resin kits or brass. There were very few, if any models from major manufacturers on the layout. It takes you off guard from the dozens of layouts you normally see only Athearn, MDC, and Atlas cars. There’s plenty of interesting prototypes in resin, and they’re all built, painted and weathered excellently.
Collection of Milwaukee Road HO Brass locomotives waiting for their next freight assignment.
The overhead wire has been installed over all the appropriate mainline sections, one can run a mainline freight completely around the massive layout under the catenary, which is pretty neat. Those huge EF-2 electrics growling upgrade under wire is quite an impressive sight to see.
The bridges and turntables, as well as all the structures, are scratchbuilt from original MILW plans, and look quite impressive. Micro-Engineering bridge girders seem to be a favorite material on this layout, it seems for good reason.
MILW steeplecab electric sits in the yard.
Operations are pretty straightforward. There’s an absolute minimum of industry on the layout, with the main operations of the layout consisting of mainline running and the switch from Steam to Electric to operate on the mainline.
Milwaukee Powerhouse at Avery, ID
It was a pretty impressive layout, that snakes its way through two main rooms in the basement. All the track is at upper chest height, almost near chin level for maximum realistic viewing angles.
Scratchbuilt MILW Depot