Southern Pacific – Exeter Branch

The Exeter Branch was designed for operations and a focus on switching. The track plan and industries are derived from the Southern Pacific Industrial Numbering System (SPINS) diagrams for the region. The majority of the industries existed on the prototype, with a few industries added for operational interest and/or the owner’s druthers.

The prototype location is the San Joaquin Valley in California. The area is located north of Bakersfield, south of Fresno, and east of the SP mainline.

The year is 1965 and produce traffic is always ‘in season’. Produce is the primary commodity shipped in this agricultural central California region. Inbound traffic consists of empty reefers for loading and shipments to local industries.

The railroad has staging at each end: Bakersfield (east) and Fresno (west). The eight towns on the western end are serviced exclusively by the Southern Pacific. They are: Locans, Sanger, LacJac, Reedley, Dinuba, Exeter, Vance and Lindsay. The eastern end is serviced jointly by the Southern Pacific and the Santa Fe as per prototype practice. The four towns are: Richgrove, Jovista, Saco and Oil Junction. Of note is the tank car facility at Oil Junction, which is serviced by both the SP and ATSF.

Motive power consists of 4-axle locomotives with sound. Rolling stock is a mixture of era specific equipment. 

Car Forwarding: The layout employs a car card and waybill system. 

Crew: Five one man crews staff a session. 
Control: NCE DCC wireless and one tethered cab.
Uncoupling: All uncoupling is manual with bamboo skewers. 
Turnout control: All turnouts are controlled by ground throws with the exception of Fresno staging which uses switch machines and routing via a turnout matrix.

Rick is in the process of building a new railroad; the Southern Pacific Los Angeles Division which is being chronicled in his blog:


OwnerRick Watson
LocationTempe AZ
PrototypeSouthern Pacific,
 Los Angeles Division,
 Exeter Branch
LocaleSan Joaquin Valley,
  Central California
ForwardingCar Card / Waybill
  Branchline operation
Control SystemNCE DCC
Size18′ x 19′ and 11′ x 13′
StyleAlong the walls with
 peninsulas,no duck under
CommunicationVerbal, visual track rules
AccessBasement; 3′ aisles
Pets in homeDog – not in layout room
WebsiteNot yet
Crew Size5
Five Local switching