About the Layout

The CFRR in the spare bedroom of my wife and my apartment.
After completing my second N scale layout, the Port Royal & Yemassee, I found myself in an odd position. I dove headlong back into model railroading and had enthusiasm to spare. But the PR&Y was not without its issues and I was ready to build something better.

In the spring o 2009, I had moved out of my parents' house into a place of my own. Making space for a layout wouldn't be an issue. However, since I was renting, I knew I would have to move every so often. Therefore the layout would still have to be somewhat small and portable. So yeah, that dream layout would have to wait a little longer.

Proper Planning:

The CFRR's predecessor was designed (if you want to call it that) by buying a bunch of Altas track and fool around with it until I came up with a plan that more or less worked. As a result, the layout really never ran right. This layout was going to be different. Rather than fly by the seat of my pants,  I decided to come up with a list of features I wanted to include. To whit:

  1. At least two main lines to allow two trains to run at the same time. In fact three would be ideal.
  2. Dramatic scenery with mountains and tunnels, canyons, rivers and waterfalls.
  3. Over-under crossings on the main lines. Trains crossing over each other are, in my opinion one of the most dramatic scenes one can have on a model railroad.
  4. A town with a planned out look and no hodge-podge of buildings.
  5. A theme of industry and railroading as opposed to the PR&Y’s “theme” of trains running through the woods. In the real world railroads serve industries and I want to make that a focal point.
  6. Realistic roads. For this I’ll turn to Woodland Scenics “road system.”
With this list in hand, I used Atlas Rightrack software to design a suitable track plan. All this planning resulted in a layout that both looks great and runs great.


The layout depicts a freelanced railroad serving northwestern South Carolina. while no specific locations are modeled, it's based primarily on Oconee & Pickens Counties. The route roughly follows SC Route 11, the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway. That's where the name of the layout and the freelanced railroad company came from. 

Track Plan:

As mentioned previously, the above track plan was created with Altas Rightrack software. It features two levels with the green loop being the lower level and the red and blue loops elevated.


Living in an apartment means the layout will have to move with me every few years and therefore portability is a must. Not only does this limit the size and weight of the layout, it means it also has to take a little punishment. As such, I'm sticking with Altas Code 80 track. Yes, it looks ugly but its considerably more durable than Code 55. Additionally, structures must be either durable or replaceable.  

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