All about the community of model railroading and rail enthusiasm


2014 Cowcatcher Magazine

All Issues Priced at $4.95 unless otherwise noted

Operations Mecca- January/February 2014: Collaborative spirit inspires building some of the country’s top model railroads for operations in Kansas City. PLUS, we publish the winner’s of the Cowcatcher Gold Rail Awards 2013 contest; the Houston Railroad Museum plans to relocate to Tomball, TX; NTRAK leadership has changed with the appointment of Oklahoma N-Rail’s Bruce Alcock; and staff writer Pat Hiatte takes a ride on the Semo Port Railroad as it moves freight along the Mississippi River.

Getting The Right Shot – March/April 2014: With digital photography, layout photos are easier to shoot but knowing the basics are still just as essential. PLUS, the Texas Central Railway is racing California to become the nation’s first high-speed rail line; the Illinois model railroading community is staying busy with plenty of meets and activities; SGMA-MAC members travel far and away to show their standard gauge models; and Dallas Rapid Transit is joining just a few other cities in the U.S. with service to a major airport.

Cowcatcher May-June 2014 Cover3

Beneath the Katy Trail- May/June 2014: Lessons in timetable and train order operations are gleaned from the tragic past of a once heavy Missouri-Kansas-Texas rail line. PLUS, a strong showing prompts Tulsa Design/Op organizers to reconsider event’s fate; we offer five steps to enhance operating sessions; the Austin Western Railroad gets busy when the Texas weather warms as aggregate business heats up; and Rapido’s second run of HO-scale meat cars promises to be as good as the first one.

Cowcatcher July-Aug 2014 Cover

On the Job- July/August 2014: A North Texas mobile diesel engine service company takes its business model trackside anywhere, anytime. PLUS, after 10 years the Operations Special Interest Group (OpSIG) has become a fast-growing segment of the model railroad hobby; the Timber Rock Railroad is steady as she goes while maintaining a constant flow of forestry and rock business in East Texas; a new design improves Walthers passenger car line; St. Louis and Virginia museums plan to swap steam and diesel locomotives; and the Oklahoma City Train Show banks on change with a new look. SOLD OUT!!

Cowcatcher Sept-Oct 2014 Cover

Renaissance- September/October 2014: The venerable short line railroad is playing a critical role today in the movement of the nation’s freight, enough that some say these are renaissance times. PLUS, the arrival of Dallas Area Rapid Transit to DFW International Airport puts Dallas in a whole new world; the NMRA Nationals packs a punch as crowds descend upon Cleveland for prototype tours and the big train show; a Wisconsin-themed layout offers light-hearted but quality layout operations; demand for rail equipment outweighs supply, leaving some railroads scrambling to keep traffic moving; and Tangent Scale Models’ latest hopper offerings in HO should prompt modern-era fans to come back for more. $5.95


Attention to Detail- November/December 2014: Intermountain Railway Co. puts emphasis on quality through an intense inspection process. PLUS, the American Public Transportation Association pitches long-term funding to rebuild what the organization says is decaying transportation infrastructure in the U.S.; grain is big on the Nebraska Central Railroad but a diverse portfolio of commodities is even bigger; Joplin, MO, was never a big rail hub, but the Southwest Missouri city saw plenty of action several decades ago, offering modelers and historians a unique perspective; one of the nation’s largest model railroad shows – Trainfest – has a new attitude.

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Current Issue: September/October 2023


Bright, shiny freight cars are showing in greater numbers on the North American rail network. New orders and deliveries increased in 2022 following a decline beginning in 2019 that the pandemic worsened in 2020 and 2021. According to a report from the Railway Supply Institute's American Railway Car Institute Committee, new freight car orders last year were significantly greater than the combined total of 2020 and 2021. Deliveries increased nearly as much.

But car builders are not out of the woods yet, as the first half of 2023 saw some ups and downs.


Too much of a good thing can be hazardous to model railroad operations. Adding more cars to a layout can place more pressure on yards and industries when running the railroad like the real thing. Three veteran operators share their thoughts about how to avoid logjams in yards, sidings and at industries. 


Computer-based applications that complement DCC are driving the new frontier of model rail road operations.


The Sunset Limited ranks as Amtrak's worst train in on-time performance, prompting a Surface Transportation Board investigation. The Southern Pacific's Coast Daylight, with its brilliant colors, was among the most beautiful trains during the golden age of passenger rail. A BNSF test locomotive that set the stage for future developments in alternative energy motive power technology arrives at an Oklahoma railroad museum.