The MW&W Story

Every model railroad should have a "story". It's not actual history, not precise recreation of historical fact, but the inspiration and general idea of the railroad. In the case of the MW&W, some is historically accurate, some is fantasy, some is based on cherished memories, some is a sketchy outline of something representing an idea. So here is the "story", the organizing principles, of the McFarland, Waynesville & Western Railroad.

The time and place

The MW&W is a narrow gauge (3') railroad inspired by the Colorado narrow gauge between 1900 and 1950. The rolling stock is what could have been seen in that time and place. A few items stretch "could": White Pass & Yukon engines could have appeared in Colorado, but actually did not. The reverse actually happened: D&RGW engines were sent to the WP&Y in WWII. Likewise, a Deadwood Central engine could, but likely did not, have ended up in Colorado.

The name

McFarland because we have lived near McFarland for over 40 years. McFarland was founded by the station agent for the Milwaukee & Mississippi Railroad, the first in Wisconsin, later the Milwaukee Road. The agent's home, an Inn, The McFarland House, stands today. Waynesville is where my father grew up and my brother resides in the warm months. Waynesville was on the Vandalia line, later the Peoria branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad. The Waynesville Depot was was a favorite summer hangout for many years.   


The first depot established on the MW&W was at Avogadro Falls. Avegadro Falls got its name when the question arose was about the cost of creating the falls and creek that runs under the truss bridge. To avoid a direct answer, the reponse was "Avogadro's number of dollars." The name stuck. Thus Avogadro Falls and Avogadro Creek. The Avogadro Falls station sign notes distances to Waynesville and McFarland which represents the mileage derived from old railroad timetables, some no longer in existence, assuming minor deviations from their actual route.

The second depot was established near the control point and was named, at the suggestion of the Chief Engineer of Waynesville Bridge & Iron Works, Willoughby, based on an episode of Rod Serling's Twilight Zone. The mileages on the depot sign represent a fictional point about a third of the way between McFarland and Waynesville, or about five miles south of Freeport, Il. Watch the Twilight Zone episode at this link...

Brass Hats

For many years, the MW&W sought grants of rights of way from higher authority. Eventually, in 2009, The Commissioner of Rights of Way granted a charter to the MW&W after a thorough review of the surveys and route maps and a promise by the MW&W to provide appropriate acommodations for the MW&W's Board of Directors (our grandchildren). Each board member has a business car appropriately painted and lettered.

Car Numbers

Numbers assigned to cars of actual railroads (e.g. D&RGW) represent cars that actually existed, or in a few cases, still exist. Some car numbers were chosen because of a particular personal connection to the prototype car.

Waynesville Bridge & Iron Works

WVBI's first major job for the MW&W was the Avogadro Creek Truss Bridge. The design was carefully executed to accommodate a type K-27 Mikado with large load margin and proper clearances. The second job was the girder bridge connecting to the west end of the truss, the three towers supporting the truss and girder bridges, and the flat girder bridge carrying the main line over the lower loop. WVBI has provided design and fabrication consultation for all major bridges and structures on the railroad. WVBI has several pieces of rolling stock: an office/shop car, a tool car, a short hopper, and a gondola.

Points of Interest

The rock and iron sculpture of a mother duck and three ducklings on the south bank of Avogadro Creek near the lower loop bridge has been named "Mount Duckmore". There is a large ceramic frog on the north side of the lower loop near the trestle. This area has been named "Kermit". The west end of the two long sidings on the south side of the railroad is known as West Junction. (There was a West Junction on the TMER&L)  All points of interest have appropriate signage.

The San Juan

Considerable effort has been invested to create a representation of the San Juan, a passenger train that ran between Alamosa and Durango until 1951. The MW&W is not a strict scale, accurate, "rivet-counting" enterprise. The passenger cars are the Bachmann Jackson & Sharp and are not true scale. However, two RPOs were "kitbashed" from standard baggage and combine cars, three two door baggage cars were kitbashed from standard four door cars, and all cars were painted Pullman Green and lettered with D&RGW Microscale decals. Sufficient rolling stock exists to run two San Juan consists and stage meets.

Pieces of History

The MW&W strives to incorporate artifacts when possible and appropriate.

RPO 54 - On a visit to the Cumbres & Toltec in 2010, the Friends were restoring D&RGW RPO #54 at Chama, NM. Much old, rotted wood had been removed and replaced. One small piece of wood removed from the prototype #54 in the scrap pile was used to make a mail sorting table that is now in RPO #54 on the MW&W.

Avogadro Creek Bridge Clamps - WVBI used scrap pieces of oak from a depot being demolished in Florida to fabricate the track clamps for the bridges. So, those pieces of wood will continue to witness the passing of trains as they have for over 100 years.

Avogadro Creek - A few rocks from various places around the world have been incorporated into the banks and dry wash of Avogadro Creek.

Avegadro Falls and Creek

Unlike the practice of real railroads, the falls and creek were added after the bridges were put in service. The Waynesville Bridge & Iron Works bridges turned out so spectacularly that it seemed they deserved actual flowing water to pass beneath. This feature has proven to be the scenic highlight of the line.