This past Sunday, Feb 19, my son and I were treated to our own tour of the Denver Society of Model Railroaders layout. The layout is not open to the public on Sunday, but that was the only day we had free in our visit to Colorado. Chip Rovetta (aka ChipR) graciously agreed to meet us and show us the layout. There was just the three of us, so we not only got to tour what the public sees but all the "behind the scene" views as well. We even got to go up into the control tower.
The layout is huge--60x 90 feet in the main portion, if recall correctly. And when the train is in the distance, some 80 feet away, it looks like this is Z scale layout, Chip ran an ABA freight scheme Santa Fe set (all P&D units). They were dead quiet, smooth and pulled a very interesting collection of freight cars. It takes about 30 minutes to do a complete circuit of the Standard Gauge mainline. The mainline is inspired by Colorado mainline railroading. And yes, the city of "Springs" is as impressive as the photos:
The base scenery is down over the whole layout, so there is no plywood showing. Many scenes are very highly detailed. You have seen some of them in Erik Lindgren’s photos and their website, but there are other areas that don’t get as much press. First and foremost to my mind was the coal mine, complete with a 12 foot (or so) multiple section conveyor belt to transport coal from the brick walled chimney-like storage bunker to the loading tipple.
There is also a narrow gauge component that is faithful to the prototype in terrain, building, etc.
After the tour we went to Caboose Hobbies where we met Erik. We had an enjoyable visit, and once again I was afforded yet another opportunity to lament the absence of a decent model railroad hobby shop in Northern Virginia.
All in all it was a pretty spectacular day. Thanks to Chip, he was very gracious host.
PS..Chip says visitors are welcome anytime and they love to host. But act fast. They will have to put the layout in hibernation to accommodate a two year development project to turn the train station into a hotel