Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Great Canadian Model Railroad: Brian Elchlepp’s BC Rail Dawson Creek Sub.

M420 640 rounds a big curve on
Brian Elchlepp's Dawson Creek Sub.

During my time as Associate Editor of Canadian Railway Modeller, I’ve been able to work with many authors to help them publish articles about their layouts. There have been a lot of impressive layouts over that time, including Brian Elchlepp’s BC Rail Dawson Creek Sub. (Featured in Train 11, Track 1).

A-B-B-B M420's work a grade. 

The prototype Dawson Creek Subdivision is a 61-mile branch line in the northern part of B.C. It features a rolling profile, stretches of 2.2% grade and a 1,100 foot long bridge spanning the Pine River. Until the mid 90s, power was all Alco, while rolling stock was a mix of pig flats, box cars, petroleum and grain.

A C630M leads an M420 towards Dawson Creek.

At the time Brian was modeling the line, the railway serviced a number of grain elevators and local industries in Dawson Creek and interchanged with CN (which now owns BC Rail).

Switching in Dawson Creek.

Brian’s HO scale representation of the Dawson Creek Subdivision was a point-to-loop plan about 9.5 by 21 feet. It featured a double-decked portion along one wall, with the lower level representing the town of Chetwynd while the upper level was Dawson Creek. There was also a staging yard reached via a three-turn helix.

Brian's helix.

For Brian, the combination of traffic, grades, operation and exotic motive power made the line the perfect prototype for a model railroad.

Overview of the Dawson Creek Sub. layout.

As you may have noticed, I have been using the past tense to describe Brian’s layout—it’s gone now, the result of a change in personal circumstances in his life. Brian dismantled it in 2006.

The layout plan.

Gone, too, is a website he created about the layout and the prototype; using the magic of the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, I went back and grabbed some photos from his old site to post here as a tribute to Brian’s fantastic modeling.

M630 #719 leads an M420B and a C630 past a meet.

In a note, Brian told me he has stepped away from the hobby for a while, although he has recently begun to do a little modeling again. This time, though, it’s a little Washington branch line.

If you’re interested in learning more about BC Rail, Brian co-authored two books about the railway; you can find more information about them here.

More photos of Brian's gone, but not forgotten, layout are below.


  1. Brian's layout was an inspiration for many BC Rail modellers. I was lucky enough to aquire several locomotives and the scratch built Dawson Creek station from Brian shortly after he dismantled the layout.

  2. Hi,
    What a great layout...very nice...It´s always an inspiration formy own HO scale Dawson Creek Subdivision layout im building....Thanks for showing the pictures