Hennepin Overland Railway Historical Society

Affiliate Disclosure: We may receive a commision from some of the links and ads shown on this website (Learn More Here)

RailroadBookstore.com - An online railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used railroad books. Railroad pictorials, railroad history, steam locomotives, passenger trains, modern railroading. Hundreds of titles available, most at discount prices! We also have a video and children's book section.

ModelRailroadBookstore.com - An online model railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used books. Layout design, track plans, scenery and structure building, wiring, DCC, Tinplate, Toy Trains, Price Guides and more.


Always Improvising
HENNEPIN OVERLAND RHS is OPEN to visitors every weekend, 1:00-4:00PM until April. If you are in or around the Twin Cities, PLEASE stop in! We are in Minneapolis at the corner of East 38th St and 25th Ave. South. http://hennepinoverland.org/

I wasn't sure if I should include club layout photos in my own personal show-off thread, but I figured I couldn't go wrong making a separate thread specifically for photos from the club layout.

I just recently joined Hennepin Overland as of two weeks ago. There are 30 other members, and we operate a 65'-29' HO scale layout in a small warehouse in Minneapolis.

As far as I know at present we don't do any serious, simulation type operating, only continuous running. This is a little disappointing for me but as a member I may be keen on a few opportunities to try and do that kind of stuff myself. The overall design of the layout seems to have been done for actual railroading as there are switches everywhere and three or more interchanges between the two mainlines and the branch line.

9/9/18 Operating during visitor hours
A little bit about my operation this time. I had planned out this consist a week ahead of time and made sure these cars were up to spec for NMRA weight and coupler standards. The original loco was my BNSF GP60M but somewhere between my house and the club it decided to take a day off. Fortunately I was smart and brought one of my new E7's and my Milwaukee caboose just in case I had a problem. I am fully aware the MILW E7's were passenger service only, but I didn't have much choice. The train is mixed freight of four boxcars, a reefer, two 50' hoppers and a three-bay coal hopper. We are called Local 20B, bound for the mountain town of New Bergen and back. (Quick warning, cars will switch places in the photos! I wasn't taking photos most of the time, these are screengrabs from video I took on two separate trips :p)

New folks start off with the branch line, supposedly because it's easier. The branchline has under-layout staging accessible via helix but myself and the other operator started from the eight-track yard ('east' of the helix). I'm still too new to remember all of the location names, or if this yard even has a name, but it's home anyway.

We depart for the east, leaving the yard at 15mph and slowly wind our way through the first tunnel on our journey. Once out of the tunnel, we pass farm fields, a few small industries, whistle stop and a scrapyard before ducking into another tunnel. Somewhere in the midst of tunnel 2 we have begun our ascent uphill. When we emerge from it, we're in the forested foothills below the New Bergen lumberyards.

It's a lengthy climb up the mountainside, but finally we are in the New Bergen limits. Speed is cut to 20mph through this little town.

Following a short stop in New Bergen for freight transfers and deliveries, we're on the way further east to the lumber mills, but as we have no pick-ups or drop-offs today, we're going to continue on past and make a return trip to New Bergen to get back down again.

Drunken rumors tell that train crew, likely sleepy from the altitude change on their trip, frequently swear they see "giants" looking at them, especially around New Bergen. Such things can only be superstition, right?

(The two tracks seen at the foot of the bridge are actually the starting point for our climb up the mountain. They are easy to forget!)

Having passed the lumberyards, we encounter the return loop switch on this bridge.

And before we know it, we're cruising back to New Bergen.

Before we know it, our altitude has dropped and we're back among the cornfields in the valley.

And shortly after we have returned to the interchange yard where our train will pause to wait for an inbound before we head back west.
Last edited:


Always Improvising
After departing westbound, trains take a dive under the elevated eastbound main before poking into a tunnel into imagination. In reality our trains take a 15 minute trip through this monstrosity, traveling all the way down to branch line staging and back up, rolling on the same trackage to get back. Thankfully the Helix has automatic traffic control, with active signals outside each tunnel portal.




And 15 minutes later, you're back in the yard.

And just to include one more great scenery shot. I had brought my Northstar consist just in case I ended up on Mainline operations for some reason. I wanted to try it on the branchline but I had a very strong feeling that my Bombardiers wouldn't make it through New Bergen without flattening things. After experiencing problems with my GP60M, I threw my Northstar F59PHI on the layout to make sure it would take, and it did, so I sent one more passenger diesel out on local freight duty just because.
Last edited:


Whiskey Merchant
That is an impressive layout they have there. Being a big Milwaukee Road fan, needless to say, I like it a lot. I grew up with relatives working on both the Milwaukee Road and the Northern Pacific in Montana and actually for to ride in the cabs of the Little Joes and box cabs.


Always Improvising
Welllll I hate to disappoint but Hennepin's layout isn't railroad-specific. We all have different interests and different power, from MILW and BN to Pennsy and N&W steamers rolling hard on the main. I've seen a couple of MILW passenger trains rolling there, but other than that I think I am the only Milwaukee guy (and I don't have very much of it yet).


Always Improvising
I ran on the branch line again today. I got my little GP60M to work but our club track needs a good cleaning so I had to run her fast or risk getting stopped in a tunnel (which happened).

I also learned my Wide-Vision caboose does not like Tunnel #2 and actually was ripped from the train by the portal. The layout was intended to be operated as 1950's-1960's time so we'll blame that on me. Instead of having a dedicated train this time I was mixing and swapping all of the cars just about every half hour. I even swapped locomotives and rolled out my UP1943 and UP1995 to show off and to make sure the locos ran on the layout without any problems. '43 and '95 were very popular with a handful of visiting kids. The branch line really does favor a sure-footed six axle, although an SD70ACE is certainly overkill. An SD9 (or two) or SD40 would look great making the climb with some appropriate cars.

I'm hoping to run mainline sometime soon but I haven't learned how our staging and departures work for those, and it is usually pretty packed also. It may be some time before I get the chance.


BNSF #117 idles in the interchange yard while its crew reads over their work orders. The overnight crew ran afoul of a cattle train and so today they will first have to head west to Centerville to pick up a train bound for New Bergen.


#117 passes by the westbound mainline


BNSF 117 Passes the tower and idling UP #559 on its way out of the interchange yard.


I made a few passes with this train consist shown, then brought out #1943 and went mad scientist. #117 ended up pulling just four cars from a consist that #1943 brought in with it.



As #117 rounds New Bergen this time, word comes over the radio of a tanker car pileup near Centerville. The crew may go home, but the train won't get away from New Bergen for 20 hours.
(This was about where my branch line comrade, Ted, had a derailment in the helix. Took him a while to get just five cars out of there.)


This shot is actually from one of our operator access points in the layout. This trackage is rarely, if at all seen by visitors on the outside of the layout.

From here on I turned #117 over to building trains for my other two diesels. I'm here to have fun, but I have to put on a show for visitors also.

Iron Horseman

Well-Known Member
Here's part two, showing less prototypical stuff that is just plain fun.
View attachment 30500
Funny you would show that loco. Today I was pulled off the extra board for train #844. #844 used to be a 1940s vintage mail train but recently it has been converted to a modern day excursion train. First time I've ever run it. So in addition to the UP #844 on the point, the #1943 was the helper/backup cut in behind the two water cars.

Unfortunately, I do not have any pictures because the museum policy is while one has a throttle in hand one cannot have also have a camera or phone.


Whiskey Merchant
Impressive photos again. Our club layout is also not railroad specific or era specific although it is loacated in the basement of the old Northern Pacific depot in Livingston, MT. There is a lot of BNSF and MRL equipment on the layout which is what is most commonly seen here. I have a lot of NP and MILW equipment at home and run them. My time period at home is set in 1957. We also have Burlington, SP&S, DM&IR steam, and othe rpower running. We just enjoy running trains. That's what the hobby is all about.


Always Improvising
We just enjoy running trains. That's what the hobby is all about.
I haven't met every other member yet, but so far I have seen a lot of diversity in railroads represented on our club layout. When I visited back in March there was one fella running two SP cab-forwards alongside our Trainmaster's Pennsy S2 and another member's Challenger. I've already posted Chris' 1935 Twin Cities Hiawatha, and I have my own Walther's Hiawatha set that is nearly complete (need 3 more cars to be accurate and one E7 needs some fixin')

I don't want to sound unappreciative but as for the fun part, well, I enjoy letting my equipment run free on a very well-done layout that has existed for atleast two decades, but I know I would like to get more of the operational stuff out of it (which it is more than capable of) instead of just showing. The gist I got from a few other members was the same. There's two things in the way of that right now.

We have a big peninsula with this roundhouse, engine shops, yard, ice dock, chemical plant and loads of industries that we can't use (This is 'Centerville' as we call it). Apparently we're waiting on control panels to be made, so these tracks aren't wired yet.

Same deal with this awesome mountain in the background. There's no way to get onto the track leading up to it, and there's no power routed to it yet.
And at the end of the branch line section there's a smaller roundhouse and engine servicing facility, complete with another small yard. It's unfinished but at least the tracks which are there can be used. All of my freight cars are currently putting it to use until I go back this weekend. :D

I'm hoping after a while I can inject some new gumption into our group to get these sections going. It's a lot of trackage that is just sitting there waiting.

Iron Horseman

Well-Known Member
We have a big peninsula with this roundhouse, engine shops, yard, ice dock, chemical plant and loads of industries that we can't use (This is 'Centerville' as we call it). Apparently we're waiting on control panels to be made, so these tracks aren't wired yet.
Control panels for the turnouts? I wouldn't think that would stop track wiring.

Iron Horseman

Well-Known Member
Our mainlines tend to get crowded, but I really want to try to get my 261 and my twin E7's on the main this weekend with my Hiawatha consist.
One of the projects on my to-do list is to make two Touralux Sleepers to convert the train to a Cascade Hiawatha. I've got the car sides but can't find a cheap Walthers base car to put them on. For a while these type of cars were going cheaply, but in the past two years the price has really shot up.


Always Improvising
9/22/18, Visiting hours operation

First run of my AS616 on the Hennepin Overland club layout. This thing is a little sweetheart! Not one hiccup at all. I need to make some tweaks with the lights, though.

I've learned some of the switch controls on the branch line, so I'm thinking next week I would like to try doing some set-outs and pick-ups with the grain elevator, the scrapyard and the lumber mill. I need to get a couple bulkhead or centerbeam flats and scrap gondolas though.

I think I've shown all of the good stuff in the previous two posts, so this time I tried to get more interesting photos.








Last edited:

ModelRailroadForums.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com