The drawbridge is hand crafted using steel rods that are welded and then plated. Each of the two sections is 4 feet long for a total of 8 feet or about 400 feet in scale terms. (Imagine a football field hinged behind each goal post and opening at the 50-yard line.) There is no track per se on the bridge. Trains run on the 2 pair of upper structural rods. The third rails are 1/16” SS rod supported by custom machined clear acrylic insulators bonded to the steel superstructure.
The motorized mechanism raises both sections simultaneously via stainless steel cables that run under the floor. This photo shows the sections about halfway open. The cables that raise the sections are connected to a crank pin on the circumference of a large wheel with a diameter equal to the stroke necessary to fully raise the bridge sections. A 180-degree turn of this wheel thus moves the bridge sections with a pure and fluid sinusoidal motion that begins and ends with incredible smoothness. The bridge is phenomenally strong as each section forms a cantilever with its respective abutment when closed, while simultaneously the outer ends of each section dovetail to form a single rigid truss when fully horizontal.

Sky Bridge

The north canyon Sky Bridge is over 9 feet long. The 2 single lengths of 3/16” steel rod were welded in place to the 7 preinstalled cantilevered supports. The third rail is 1/8” steel rod bonded to the supports with structural adhesive.
Trains traversing the Sky Bridge are really “out there” and the effect is fun to see in the POV video.
At the entrance to the canyon, trains running on the Sky Bridge pass under the Drawbridge, then immediately through a short tunnel before emerging into the Northwest Yard.

Arch Suspension Bridge

The twin arches of this bridge are solid aluminum over 9 feet long. They are each blind drilled and tapped to receive the 7 recessed threaded retainers that anchor the suspension cables. The span is over 8 feet and the trains run on 2 square (3/16”) stainless steel rods. The rods are welded to respective ‘anchor plates’ at each end that are in turn connected from underneath to heavy gauge stainless steel cables that are directly secured to the rafters of the house. The stainless steel rods of the bridge are stretched into great tension by a set of turnbuckles included within the cables that are secured to the house rafters.
The stretched stainless steel rods are further supported by 7 pair of 0.019” OD stainless steel threads that are suspended from the arches and connected to 7 horizontal supports that are machined from solid aluminum and hand polished. The suspension threads are so thin, that from a distance they are imperceptible, creating the illusion that a train crossing this bridge is floating in mid air. The “third rail” is a plated copper wire only 0.039” OD that is stretched like a guitar string by a concealed turnbuckle. Seven clear polycarbonate insulators bonded to the horizontal supports keep the wire positioned and isolated from the grounded structure of the bridge. An intriguing design feature of this bridge is the flex that occurs as a heavy locomotive passes over.

Copper Arch Bridge

The horizontal structure of this bridge is a composite of aluminum plate and Ross straight section track bonded into a monocoque structure with fiberglass reinforced resin and structural adhesive. The support arch is solid aluminum that is compressed into a ‘sprung’ state that pressures the horizontal structure at the center. Like the Arch Suspension Bridge, this bridge is purposely designed to flex as a train passes over it.

Surprise Truss Bridge

The #2 mainline that crosses the Arch Suspension Bridge also traverses the truss-under bridge that is directly in front of the window at the far end of the canyon. Steel abutments built into the mountains on either side support this welded steel truss-under bridge. What is not apparent, however, is the fact that these steel abutments are hollow. The surprise is the magical appearance ‘inside’ the truss-under section of a train that rides on the lower structural rods of the truss and then vanishes into the mountain on the opposite side. This photo shows a steam locomotive crossing the bridge and a hopper car unit train passing inside the truss. The tank cars below that are actually on the Triple Bridge that is below and forward of the Surprise Truss Bridge.

Triple Bridge

The Triple Bridge is a welded steel truss design where three trains run directly onto the superstructure. The steel rods upon which the trains roll are welded in a curved pattern that places the trains closer together in the center of the span, which creates additional clearance for a premier viewing position between the bridge and the window. From this vantage point, the full length of the canyon and the entire layout is visible with the trains on/in the Surprise Truss Bridge running directly overhead and the trains on the other 6 bridges in the immediate foreground.
The open architecture of the bridges provides unique and stunning perspectives when viewed from below.

Riverside Route

The Riverside Route, which runs on the north edge of the river at the bottom of the canyon, is the only independent route that is not connected to the rest of the layout. It has a unique operational feature. Behind the scenery this route splits into three passing sidings. Two of these sidings are wired together with a complex circuit of sensors and relays that supports an automatic bidirectional scenario. After an eastbound train disappears into the far tunnel, a totally different westbound train emerges moments later. This east-west sequence can continue indefinitely, with the delay between trains adjustable from five seconds to 10 minutes in one-second increments. In one scenario, the westbound train is a Shay pulling several cars loaded with logs, while the eastbound is an identical train, but with empty log cars, giving the impression that somewhere out of view is a busy logging operation. This east-west scenario can also be temporarily interrupted and a third totally different train can be made to emerge from the tunnel to ride along the river.

The West Horseshoe Curve

The two mainline tracks become parallel as they work their way toward the entrance of the room on top of the south canyon rim. At the entrance to the canyon, the two mainlines negotiate an 8 foot wide “horseshoe curve” as they begin the long 2% climb to the upper levels. After passing through a short tunnel, they can be seen here emerging briefly mid curve before disappearing again. They do not reappear until heading east on the far side of the layout.

The Northwest Yards

The upper level of this yard has 1 through track, 1 passing siding, and 4 terminal sidings. The lower level has 1 through track and 2 passing sidings in view. There are 5 more 22-foot long sidings hidden under the upper level yard of which one is a passing siding.
In the background of this photo, it appears that 4 of the upper level sidings continue through a large tunnel in the distance. This is an illusion, as the tracks terminate shortly after entering this tunnel.

The Swamp

This is one of Mike Prelee’s fabulous scenes that is removable for access. The detail is exquisite with a proliferation of flora and fauna.

The Waterfall and Lake

Another phenomenal Mike Prelee creation.
Much of the structural renovation of the room was superbly executed by Anton’s favorite contractor and friend, Chong, who presented him with some beautiful miniature figures from China. This serene spot seems to have been made for this old Chinese fisherman.

The Red Rocks

While traveling out west in Sedona, Mike Prelee fell in love with the beautiful red rock landscape, which he has marvelously recreated here.
The red rock landscape has become one of Mike Prelee’s signature creations, which he has also used to wonderful effect on his own model railroad in New Jersey, the Red Rock and Roll Railroad.

Look Closely

A wide variety of wildlife inhabits the forests, but you have to look closely.

Behind the Scenes

The river appears to flow into an underground cave below the Northwest Yards. A closer look reveals that this is the secret entrance to the underworld. A push of a button on the Legacy controller initiates the inner cave wall’s movement to one side revealing the maintenance access to the north side of the layout. There are 3 additional concealed floor-level ports to access the areas below and behind the mountains.
There are 4 removable scenic inserts. Here is Anton in the Red Rocks access area. The Swamp and the Lake on this side of the canyon are also removable. The Adirondack Pine Forrest is the only removable access on the north side of the canyon.
Here is Anton with Mike Prelee who is well known as Mr. Mountain in the model railroad community. Mike is the wizard responsible for all the scenic wonders of the Croton Canyon Railroad. Mike and Anton have enjoyed a wonderful synergy and a shared vision since their first meeting. Over a span of 8 years, Mike crafted and installed over 3,000 individually cast and hand painted rock cuts to create the incredible landscapes seen in these photos.