The Rock Creek Railroad
by Peter Drymalski

(Click on image for full-size picture)

The first public showing of the Rock Creek Railroad was at the club's June 2005 meeting. This layout has been under construction for the last 5 years.


The Rock Creek Railroad is a realistic version of a fictional railway running from Georgetown, D.C., to Rockville, Maryland, along the bed of Rock Creek about 1900.  Apart from the two towns at each end of the line, the scenery is rural, forested, and rocky.


The line is a long “U”-shaped loop approximately 250 feet from end to end constructed in a raised bed that follows the rear fences, leaving the center of the yard free for other activities. 


Half of the layout.  This end shows the loop through Georgetown

and the rack line to the quarry in the corner.


The bed varies from 2 to 4 feet high and is constructed of dry rock walls.  The track is all stainless steel from Aristo and H&R Trains and has been weathered for realism.  The road is track-powered from two Aristo Train Engineer packs, with the main line on one power pack and the sidings inside each loop on a separate pack.  There is also a 50-foot long rack line from Georgetown to the quarries at Cabin John. 


The maximum grade on the main line is 3%, but this grade is about 100 feet long and is not for sissies.  (The real grade climb from Georgetown to Rockville is similar, however.)  Most curves are of 8-foot diameter track, with the exception of the loop at Rockville, which is a 6-foot diameter.  The track floats on ballast (bluestone dust from Irwin Stone in Rockville).

The Rockville loop under construction, April 2005.

(this is part of the right half of the layout)


There are 6 major bridges on the road, all hand-made by different firms, including a double-wide, double arch bridge 4 feet long, intended to carry the double tracks around a curve and a “concrete” viaduct from Bee Line Bridges..


I finished the main line last fall (and immediately had to contend with an intermittent short circuit created by--as I eventually discovered-- a defective H&R switch) and since then have been working on the sidings and structures.  My goal is to duplicate real buildings from the DC and Maryland areas but this will take years.  However, I have been able to duplicate some buildings—including the old B&O station—from Kensington, Maryland, and I have created a few of my own.


My few engines are mostly LGB steamers.  The rolling stock is a mixture, but I am moving slowly to a distinctive look.  Eventually I hope to make all of my own freight cars.  Currently I use hook-and-loop couplers, and all cars have steel wheels.


RCR Engine #1, the "General Frank Wheaton" pauses during a

ballasting job.


The line has been a labor of love.  It began in 1999, when I started to put up a privacy fence along the rear property lines, following that with the raised bed and rock wall.  I did 50 feet per year all by hand.  I confess I made many errors, some not correctable.  The 3% grade is more than I aimed at because I did not properly allow for the slope of the yard.  Similarly, the 6-foot curve at Rockville exists because although I planned for an 8-foot curve, I did not allow for the thickness of the rock wall I would eventually build.  If you haven’t seen me at any meetings yet, it’s because working on the railroad absorbed whatever free time I had.


The Plow train clears the tracks through Georgetown.


The RCR crew lays a rack line to Cabin John.


The new stone factory for the White Rock Beverage Company.


The loading dock for the White Rock Company.