All about the community of model railroading and rail enthusiasm


Welcome to Cowcatcher Magazine!

April 27, 2014 / Updated July 25, 2023

Engineer's Seat

Blackwell at throttle (TTM RS4)From Publisher Tim Blackwell

Along a passenger rail journey, the conductor is usually good about giving updates and info on travel times, accommodations and station stops. You might even get a plug for the special in the dining car.

We at the Cowcatcher Magazine liken our regional model railroad and rail enthusiast coverage as a means to a destination – your home, office or clubhouse. And we’re happy to periodically talk about the ride.

We see a lot of misinformation on the chat boards, blogs, websites and social media outlets about modeling, preservation and railroad operations. We believe it’s our duty to provide credible coverage of topics pertinent to our readers.

That’s why we are committed to bring to you timely, accurate information about the community of model railroading and rail enthusiasm in the Midwest and Southwest.

Someone once said that you can’t please all of the people all of the time. We don’t pretend to try, but we fully believe that any train enthusiast is just that – someone who has a passion for trains whether it’s small models, greasy diesel locomotives or a finely refurbished dome car. Our focus is on those interested in everything trains – modelers, rail fans, protoype fans and novices – and want to know what’s going on with all of railroading in the region and beyond. They are our community.

We are excited that we offer a blend of coverage from the latest on modeling, events, prototype, heritage and other news in our community. If you haven’t seen a copy of Cowcatcher Magazine, we encourage you peruse our website and order the recent issue or one of our many available back issues. Or visit one of the many locations through our coverage area for a complimentary copy.

We remain committed to maximizing our coverage of regional news and events to our subscribers and readers who find the Cowcatcher at train shows, museums and special events. In 2012, we rolled out the new Cowcatchermagazine.com to better serve our readers. Around the same time, we began a series of in-depth articles about railroads that operate in the Midwest and Southwest.

“Railroad in Focus” takes you inside a short line or regional railroad, offering a perspective that could translate to model railroading or just be an enjoyable aspect of rail enthusiasm. We highlight the railroad’s route, business portfolio, interchanges with other railroads and, when available, details like train types, schedules and names.

Why did we choose this dynamic facet of railroading to feature? Short lines and regional railroads are once again an integral part of the railroad industry. They often complete the link for the Class Is from the first mile to the last mile, and are more heavily depended on with the revved up economy.

Many short lines are bustling with business, yet they often manage to accomplish day-t0-day operations with far fewer resources than the big railroads. These lines usually work with second-, third- and fourth-hand motive power, and operators, some of them moms and pops, but each has a can-do attitude.

The roads are usually easy to model and offer hours of modern-day prototype action. And model manufacturers haven’t starved the market. You may recall that a model of the Central Kansas Railway graced the cover of our March/April issue.

Our first installment was the South Kansas and Oklahoma Railroad with the July/August 2012 issue, and we have featured many other roads since. We hope you enjoy future “Railroad in Focus” offerings.

Our mission at Cowcatcher Magazine is to make your ride as enjoyable – and informative – as possible. Also, we welcome your comments at any point during the ride, and hope you will pass along your thoughts, praises or gripes. We want your feedback. After all, you are a part of the community of model railroading and rail enthusiasm that we so cherish.

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.