This is what happens when there isn’t space for a permanent layout. Several of the scenes shown on my web-site are built just for trying ideas. An instead beat up 35 MM Canon camera was fitted with a pinhole for this shot. Do you say too much light? It’s just the hot Arizona sun that makes everything burn.


Kaibab Northern Railroad: A Model Railroader’s Dream

The Kaibab Northern Railroad (KNRR) is a stunning testament to the world of model railroading, where creativity, history, and precision come together to create a miniature world that delights enthusiasts and casual observers alike. Nestled in the arid landscape of Arizona, the KNRR serves as a vibrant and meticulously detailed homage to the rich railroading heritage of the American Southwest.

A Brief History of the Kaibab Northern Railroad

The Kaibab Northern Railroad is a fictional yet convincingly realistic model railroad, inspired by the real-life railroads that once crisscrossed the vast expanses of the Arizona desert. The name “Kaibab” is derived from the Kaibab Plateau, a prominent feature in Northern Arizona known for its rugged beauty and rich history. This fictional railroad is a tribute to the pioneering spirit of the early 20th-century railroads that helped shape the economic and social landscape of the region.

The Layout and Design

One of the standout features of the KNRR is its impressive layout, which spans multiple rooms and levels. The design of the layout is a result of years of dedicated work, with an emphasis on realism and operational functionality. The curves on the layout have a minimum radius of 30 to 40 inches, allowing for smooth operation and an authentic appearance of passenger cars. The attention to detail extends to the rolling stock, which is updated with metal trucks, Kadee body mount couplers, and American Limited diaphragms to enhance performance and realism.

The layout is set in a fictionalized version of the Arizona landscape, complete with towering red rock formations, sprawling deserts, and lush pine forests. Key scenes include bustling rail yards, quaint small-town stations, and remote wilderness areas, each brought to life with intricate detailing and expert craftsmanship.

Key Features and Structures

The KNRR boasts a variety of notable structures that add to its charm and authenticity. Among them is the Ayres Scale Models “Box Car Freight House,” a beautifully crafted piece that highlights the importance of freight operations in the railroad’s history. Other Ayres kits featured on the layout include the Sand House, Coaling Station, Water Tank, and Pump House, all situated in the Winslow engine service area. This area has evolved over the years into a congested but highly detailed scene, reflecting the hustle and bustle of a busy rail yard.

Another unique feature is the scratch-built model named “Cal’s City Transfer, Rail Truck Terminal.” Named after the modeler’s cousin, this structure serves as a hub for transferring goods between rail and road, showcasing the interplay between different modes of transportation that is essential to modern logistics.

Bringing History to Life

One of the most enchanting aspects of the Kaibab Northern Railroad is its ability to bring history to life. The modeler has gone to great lengths to incorporate elements of historical accuracy into the layout. Passenger cars, for instance, are modified to display passengers inside, and the dining car features Fred Harvey food service, paying homage to the iconic chain of restaurants that served travelers along the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway.

The Community and Future Plans

The KNRR is not just a model railroad; it is a community project that brings together enthusiasts from all walks of life. Regular open house events and operating sessions allow visitors to experience the magic of the railroad firsthand. The modeler is also planning to adjust their work schedule to focus more on attending Native events, reflecting a deep respect for the local culture and community.


The Kaibab Northern Railroad is a marvel of model railroading, combining historical accuracy, detailed craftsmanship, and a passion for the hobby. It stands as a tribute to the railroads that once traversed the American Southwest and continues to inspire and captivate all who see it. Whether you’re a seasoned railroader or a curious newcomer, the KNRR offers a glimpse into a world where history and imagination ride the rails together.

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