ThMullan Pass west of Helena, Montana is the focus of my new HO scale layout.  I plan to model the Montana Rail Link in the early 1990's on a 20 mile stretch of tracks running west from Helena, MT to the summit of the pass at Blossburg.  This website is a place to document my progress and to gather Montana Rail Link and Mullan Pass information.  A lot of thought has been put into this project and I will try to share as much of it as possible here.

See my Blog at   http://mrltrains.wordpress.com   for progress reports and construction photos.


I chose to name my layout "The Mullan Pass".

This describes the geographic area being modeled, rather than the railroad operating on it. This gives me the flexibilty to change the era of the layout without having to rename it. I could run the Northern Pacific (1864-1970), Burlington Northern (1970-1996), or even the BNSF (1996-present) and the layout name would not have to be changed.


My current plans are to model the Montana Rail Link in the early '90s,

I want to run long, heavy, modern trains requiring multiple helpers to assault the 2.2% grade on the east side of the pass. The operating empahsis will be on helper service and meets, rather than switching.


I plan to model most of the east slope of the Mullan Pass from the Helena yard to the Blossburg siding.

Prototype features I plan to include:

The yard at Helena
The Helena Depot
Helena Jct. Wye 
The end of 2nd Main at Tobin
Austin siding and the lower horseshoe curve
The upper horseshoe curve with the "cut" and the old tunnel portals
Iron Ridge
Skyline Trestle
Mullan Tunnel
Blossburg siding and structures


Trains will be assembled and broken down in off-layout staging yards

Westbound trains will enter the layout at Helena (from staging)

Eastbound trains will enter the layout at Blossburg (from staging)

Head end helpers will be added to westbounds at Helena yard

Mid-train helpers will be added to westbounds at the Helena Jct. wye

Meets at Tobin

Meets at Austin

Meets at Blossburg

Some westbound helpers will be removed at Blossburg

Eastbound trains will leave the layout at Helena (to staging)

Westbound trains will leave the layout at Blossburg (to staging)

RIP track at Blossburg 

I'm planning very little switching on this layout, although I will have a few industries at Helena. Most operators will be kept busy building trains in the staging yards, MU'ing locomotives and cutting in helpers on mainline trains.  I'm more interested in running long trains and having meets. I do plenty of local switching on my current layout. Now it's time for something different.  I enjoy just sitting back and watching trains run.