model train set on track

“Port Starboard” Almost Complete

e*Train Issue: Dec 2008   |   Posted in:

By Mike Stella

I grew up on Puget Sound overlooking the Port of Tacoma.  The Milwaukee Road used to load car ferries on the bay for a sea cruise to Port Townsend and Port Angeles.

Pre-container freighters pulled up to various docks and cargo was unloaded and put on TRAINS for Eastern destinations.  The Northern Pacific served the Sperry Grain Elevator located just down the hill from my High School.  Ore for the copper smelter was always brought in by train.  Log trains would pull up and dump their logs into the water for movement to local lumber mills.

A port is a wonderful place to generate hundreds of railroad carloads of every kind and even the smallest Lionel layout should devote a siding or two to create a port.  On “Lionel Lines” (The Largest Lionel Railroad on my Block) a port was planned from the onset and at 2 x 10 feet it occupies a space that otherwise might not have been used except to display the over 100 Lionel locomotives that reside under the port area.

“Port Starboard” (a tribute to my Navy days) is actually served by both terminals on my point-to-point railroad.  Each terminal has a lead that crosses its own Bascule Bridge to reach the port area.  Once inside the port limits, tracks branch off in several directions to serve a number of different industries as well as the docks.  The carloads of coal; logs; and grain; as well as flat car loads of products waiting for a gantry crane, give my railroad a reason to exist.  Of course, my port is modeled for pre-container cargo and no unions exist on my docks.

The Port of Tacoma was served by FOUR transcontinental railroads.  That’s more than Portland, San Francisco, or Los Angeles!  On “Lionel Lines”, my port is served by dozens of different lines making it the Largest Port on the Largest Lionel Railroad.

Happy Operating to all, with fond memories of Puget Sound.

Every railroad ought to have a Port to generate business
Two #313 lift bridges are needed to get to “Port Starboard”
The grain elevator dominates this port
A huge coaling elevator and log loader (ala American Flyer) provide more industries
“Port Starboard’s” motto reads: “Our Grain Moves by Train”
A #282 and #282R (they’re different you know) ride above yet to be installed seawall.