The Arkansas Pine Route
The Whitehurst & Pine Ridge Railroad is a short line about midway along the proto-lanced Union Pacific route between Dallas and Kansas City in the early 1990s. At a time when the UP was well into absorbing other railroads, the W&PRR emerged to handle the last mile for customers in western Arkansas.
The latest iteration of the W&PRR, the Arkansas Pine Route, has been underway since late 2018. Since then, it has blossomed into operations and made significant progress on scenery. Operationally, the layout offers long mainline runs and branch line switching with big-city and small-town flavors.
As the W&PRR emerged from a Plywood Pacific in early 2020, the pandemic unfolded. Progress started being documented in the Cowcatcher at that time, as well as on the magazine’s website.
Layouts are not built overnight, so there is much more to come. So, follow along and take advantage of the following resources to see a layout in progress.
Featured Articles in Print
The New Subway on the W&PRR (July/August 2020)
Operational model railroads typically have a life of their own behind backdrops and underneath the main decking, unseen by visitors. Trains and cuts of cars linger there in the shadows, awaiting their entrance on the grand stage, only to fade into the woodwork once the lights are dimmed.
Those hidden tracks and narrow alleyways are known as staging, and they come in various sizes and lengths. A unique feature of the old N-scale Whitehurst & Pine Ridge Railroad was what a friend named the subway, a complex network of track intended to be staging. The system was not a good example of staging and often took some white-knuckle operations to navigate.
That experience inspired lower staging on the new W&PRR, which is a key part of the operating scheme. The system avoids hidden multiple-track staging and offers the feel of an extended main line running much of the layout’s perimeter.
Expanding a Commercial Viaduct (November/December 2020)
When plotting the main line across Boonville Canyon on the N-scale Whitehurst & Pine Ridge Railroad, the need for a long bridge was obvious. A staple of Atlas N-scale is the N-Viaduct Kit. Easy to build, the early American-style structure assembles into four arches of simulated cut stone masonry.
The Carthage Viaduct has performed flawlessly since install and is a key piece of the W&PRR’s main line from Kansas City to Dallas. The structure adds intrigue to the W&PRR and a little something extra for visitors to observe.
Hidden Mains: Expanding a Tight Spot (March/April 2021)
Layout builders must fit hundreds of prototypical miles into a compact space. At some point the main line may either cross itself or run parallel.
Usually, one end of the track can be hidden behind a backdrop, in a tunnel, in back of buildings or disguised along an elevated ridge.
The N-scale, point-to-point Whitehurst & Pine Ridge Railroad does a good job of separating the main line as it winds around a three-pronged benchwork design, with the exception of one place. On one prong the far ends of the main line come precariously close. The answer to distract the eye was a dense tree line.
With the wealth of soft pines along the Whitehurst & Pine Ridge Railroad’s Arkansas Pine Route, it’s only natural that the pulp and paper industry thrives on the western edge of Arkansas.
The W&PRR’s service area extends well beyond the many harvesting fields and mills, but newsprint is a key commodity. Large rolls of 30-pound newsprint produced in Pine Bluff, Ashdown and Prescott are regularly delivered to Elaine Offset in Van Buren and The Times-Gazette in Texarkana, where yesterday’s news comes to life.
In Texarkana on the W&PRR, The Times-Gazette has made a big capital expense in a 14,000-square-foot printing and distribution facility.
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Featured Articles on the Web
The Original Whitehurst & Pine Ridge Railroad – The original W&PRR was conceived in Watauga, TX, in the mid-1980s and evolved into a loop railroad serving Whitehurst, Pine Ridge and Elaine.
UPDATED! Overview of the New Whitehurst & Pine Ridge Railroad – On New Year’s Eve 2018, the first nails were pounded into the wood framework for the expanded W&PRR.
Evolution of Operations – Work has been steady on the W&PRR since the onset of the pandemic. The biggest development of the railroad has been defining its purpose. What does it do? Why is it there? Where is it going?