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Thread: "GAP" Enterinig the Scablands of Eastern Washington State

  1. #1
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    Default "GAP" Enterinig the Scablands of Eastern Washington State

    Colleagues,

    The area of Eastern Washington from about Rock Lake west to the Columbia Basin and north and south for
    a hundred or more miles goes by many names, some descriptive, some vague, others almost nice. The
    term scablands is one I have seen that is rather descriptive of what you see. The terrain looks like the skin
    of some person who survived severe acne with lots of scars, and then their face turned gray. There are few
    trees and these tend to be in clumps near water courses, creeks, etc. Along the larger creeks, however, the
    soil, being in part volcanic, is rich, and wheat and other grains are grown. Hence Ewan, and nearly every
    other cross-roads has a grain elevator.

    We have detailed all of Rock Lake, and have progressed past Lavista (just a passing track) and Ewan is
    almost done. Ewan is a small village (I don't find it on Google Earth, but the name is present on topo maps)
    which has a Lutheran church, school, grain elevator(s) and a few houses. Two creeks come together here but
    one does not look to be a full time creek. The combined creeks flow generally parallel to the railroad but much
    lower until they join Rock Creek (which drains Rock Lake) a few miles to the west. Here are some images.
    The 2nd one has an error in the caption - it should read "emerging from tunnel 43, not 44"

    I note that Nels new software does not require one to shrink a image file, but appears to handle that function
    itself and does a better job than most compression methods. These 4 were over 200K each when uploaded.

    J. H. Sullivan
    (aka landnrailroader)ewan04.jpgewan05.jpgewan06.jpgewan07.jpg

  2. #2
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    Jerry, your first and second shot are just stunning. Great job on the scenery! This route will sure to be a download for me when it is completed.

    Robert

  3. #3
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    Thanks Robert, for the kind words. My favorite is the 3rd shot. Both north and south sides of Rock Lake are sheer basalt
    cliffs, and the track is roughly 120 feet above mean lake level. In a few hundred feet, there is a concrete retaining wall,
    a short bridge, a longer bridge over a deep cleft in the cliff side and a tunnel through a major outcropping. Since some of
    the scenery methods are easily seen in #3, it does not provide the visual illusion that you get from a passing train. This
    was view "2" extended out somewhat by BIN. BIN is used to create the route as a convenience, but I don't believe it
    will be required to operate it, however, BIN is such a useful item to use that everyone probably has it by now.

    In #3 my effort was to show baslt columns and to get this, a fellow who lives in Lind, WA offered to take some high resolution
    images of the area and he did. This basalt texture is from his images, a composite of two or three of them pasted into a
    1024x1024 tga file and converted to a Terrtex .ace file without an alpha channel. Working with textures is trying to say the
    least, but I have gotten better at it. I use PaintShop-Pro X5 as my tool of choice for this. The trick is to place the textures
    in the base file carefully, and then feather the edges using a "paint brush" with a lot of feather as a clone tool. This method
    produced the feathered edges seen in the Ewan image (#4). I have mixed the scabland texture with US2-Scrubrock and
    US2-Grass in half, quarter, diagonal half, and quarter half, configurations. Scabland textures were created from small pieces
    of aerial land colors found around Ewan in Google Earth. The license for the free Google Earth states that images can be
    used for free exchanges, so I assume they can be used in freeware routes.

    J. H. Sullivan

  4. #4
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    Jerry, When complete will this line be merged with any of the routes by our friend Lukas? Further, once this section is complete and the section being worked on by Simon I wonder what other major part of the RMD routes is still to be completed? I know a little about the Milw, mostly the electrics. But very little of the routes they ran over.

    Robert

  5. #5
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    Well the RMD (Rocky Mountain Division) runs from Avery ID to Miles City MT and from Harlowton MT to Great Falls MT (with a few branches I forgot to mention) Harlowton to Avery is done/upgraded by Jerry/Lukas. So Harlowton to Great Falls and Harlowton to Miles City are left. I do believe that somebody did a very sparse Miles City to Melstone part,
    with kind regards,
    Simon
    ____________________________________
    "It never hurts to help!" - Eek! the Cat

  6. #6
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    Robert,

    Whatever Lukas does is up to him, but generally he has been combining pairs of subdivisions. Since the "GAP" did not
    have any significant parallel routes, I decided to do two subdivisions together. I have completed the part from Avery
    to Malden, WA and now am in the section from Malden to Othello. I have completed the track for CleElum to Seattle/
    Tacoma but no roads, and it will be very complex, so much so, that I am considering ending the mainlines of the
    Milwaukee Rd. and NP, respectively at Black River Jct., and Auburn, and then doing Seattle to Tacoma seperately. I
    believe I put that one in the library some time back because there were some NP simmers that wanted just the track.

    I have digitzed Harlowton to GreatFalls and I have obtained a very good rendering of Great Falls from a fellow in the
    Czech Republic, so I would start that route by putting the ends in first and then doing a database rebuild to start the
    track and road databases.

    As Simon mentioned, I have seen something about a Miles City area route, but that was a long time ago.

    J. H. Sullivan
    (aka landnrailroader)

  7. #7
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    Jerry, could you or Simon please go into more details on the real world Harlowton to Great Falls and Harlowton to Miles City routes?

    The reason I ask is this guys. Just before Digital Rails shell went away I got Demex, Mosaic, Jumper. I also got the Route builders guide from Abacus before they dropped the MSTS content. I have never done routes or 3d modeling before, however I am willing to with alot of aid attempt to help recreate the Milw electrified routes. If someone can provide the info I would be willing to try and lay the track and some of the scenes if certain objects could be created like bridges? I do not give myself a very good chance on this simply because I am a noob. However I am willing to try even if I fail.

    Robert
    Last edited by NW 2156; 12-09-2012 at 11:02 PM.

  8. #8
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    Robert,

    Neither of the routes you mention was electrified. Miles City to Harlowton was the Trans Missouri division and if I was new to the insanity of route building I would pick something a lot shorter for my first attempt. If laying track etc. was easy and was all there is to it, we would have 10 times as many routes available now as we do. To obtain the data necessary to do these routes, I had to contact a lot of people until I finally found a source for track charts, because without them I would never get the grades, curves, etc. correct. Then I had to use another tool to digitize the centerline of the right of way, not only of the tracks, but also roads, rivers, creeks, and any other linear feature. Before I had laid the first piece of track, I had invested several months of spare time into research. Then the real fun began. If you read some of the real early threads in this forum, you will learn that RE is perhaps the buggiest piece of software known to man and it was never supported by Microsoft, so if you had a problem, forget contacting them, although there was a fellow at Microsoft that helped a lot, and was rewarded for it by getting the axe.

    Then you had to have the tools you obtained, DEMEX being perhaps the most valuable, and some tool to use in building structures, my preference being TSM from Abacus although 3Dc, GMAX, and more recently Sketchup are popular. And after you get all of that and learn to use it, more research is required to determine what type of bridge is required for example, over the Yellowstone River near Melstone, MT. (Through Truss). To do that, I've acquired a rather extensive library of books, VHS tapes, and DVDs of the line.

    After doing this insanity for 11 years now, I still run into problems when, for example, doing a database rebuild. Most of these are covered in the tutuorials and other material at the Steam4me site in Australia.

    If you want to try a route, I would suggest the Miles City to Harlowton segment. This would be the easiest to do because it does
    not involve a lot of elevation changes, nor does it require any large viaducts or other bridges. This route followed the MusselShell River
    and the Yellowstone River west from Miles City. It does have some interesting scenic items such as the area around the Rattlesnake Buttes, and most of the towns are small. Suppose you come to a fairly large town. How do you simulate that. Well, more research, perhaps letters to the chamber of commerce etc. and in the end, it is usually sufficient to simulate only structures visible from a passing
    train, anything else just creates more clutter and slows the display of data.

    When doing the detailing of a route such as the "GAP" (which by the way is just a knickname applied by railroaders and historians, the real name was the "I & W Division", i.e. Idaho & Washington Division, and "GAP" referred to the fact that it was 220 miles without electrification between 440 miles (on the east) and 220 miles (on the west) that were electrified.) the stretches between towns go pretty fast, but you cannot ignore St.Maries which was a large town and later a crew change point, or Tekoa, or Rosalia. Then Malden, also a division point, was very small otherwise, and Pine City only had grain elevators and a dozen or so houses plus a school. It took nearly a month of spare time to "insert" Rosalia because although it was on the opposite side of a valley from the railroad, the railroad was higher so more buildings were visible. Ewan which is almost done has less than a dozen houses, a church, and two grain elevators.

    So, while I don't want to turn you off, I do want to point out that it is a serious undertaking to do a route. Simon has a family, and doing a route takes him many months. Lukas is a professor of law in Zurich, as well as a German aviation magazine editor and so combining routes takes him quite a spell. Having said that, these friends of all of us do, in my opinion, the very best routes there are. Lukas has been a partner in many other routes besides the Milwaukee Rd. ones. For really fantastic operations and scenery, get the Bernina Pass line that is available on one of the European web sites. It is a "mini install" and the creator went so far as to create all of the meter gage track he needed to do the route. Lukas did a lot of the rolling stock. The route was years in the creation and it is only about 70 miles in length (though measured in kilometers).

    And after this dissertation, ponder this one. The Milwaukee Road is my SECONDARY interest railroad-wise. My main interest is in the L&N, particularly the main line from Louisville to Nashville, as well as two or three other subdivisions. A fellow is working on the mainline, and I am working on some bridges for it. This is a relatively easy chore since, being retired from CSX, I was able to get the track charts and the bridge diagrams to properly do these routes. Another contact, had a friend, who also had friend, who just happened to to have copies of the Milwaukee Road track charts from Harlowton to Avery. Later I was able to contact the author of a number of books on the Milwaukee Road and he pointed me to a University Library that had many other track charts, which I was able to obtain for copying cost and postage.
    And Train-Sim isn't my main hobby -- HO modeling is.

    Jerry Sullivan,
    (aka landnrailroader ---- L & N Railroader----)

  9. #9
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    Jerry, I appreciate the indepth look into MSTS route building. I am fully aware of the challenges and know all to well what goes into the process. I am interested in doing the Royal Gorge D&RGW route to a level that could rival The Feather River Route done for MSTS. But for the reasons listed above it mostly has been a non starter for now. The milw is a secondary interest to the D&RGW and SP. I used to do HO alot before MSTS but virtually have given up on it in favor of simulations now a days.

    Robert

  10. #10
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    Well Robert, if you need support, I am always prepared to look what I can do for you. There is a lot of overlap on the various Milwaukee Road lines. So there might be things I have or will also need for myself. Just like Jerry said, I would try the Miles City to Harlowton segment.
    with kind regards,
    Simon
    ____________________________________
    "It never hurts to help!" - Eek! the Cat

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