Art Cominio's Rio Grande Southern

Started in April 2001 in an empty room, these photos show what Art Cominio accomplished by June 2002, a little over a year. Art's RGS is located near Cocoa Beach, Florida in a 420 square foot room overlooking one of Florida's thousands of boat canals. Art models the RGS in the late 1940's, including Ridgway, Placerville, Vance Junction, the Ophir loop (& highline), and Rico. The six trestles include bridge 37B at Bilk, 45A & 45B at Ophir, highline trestles 46 C & 46D, and the Upper Gallagher trestle 47A.

Scenery is finally underway, but took a back seat to structures, trackwork, and backdrops until now.

Important features of the point-to-point layout are DCC control, hand-laid code 70 track, Soundtraxx sound, wide isles, and no duck-unders, tunnels, or other hidden track. Art's layout will be on the tour in January 2003 in conjunction with the Prototype Modeler's Meet in Cocoa Beach.

Picture #1: The Ridgway depot is a Banta Modelworks kit. Art uses placards (mounted in plastic photo frames) on his fascia with prototype information for interested visitors. Art was greatly influenced by the NWNG layouts he saw during the 2001 Sn3 Symposium in Seattle. One idea he brought back from Seattle was the "Brian Ellerby" style shelf beneath the fascia, sized for a Coke can.

Picture #2: This view of the Ridgway depot & bathroom shows the unfinished depot platform. The Depot was a "union" depot serving the both D&RGW and the RGS. A shortened and relocated version of the depot survives to this day as a residence. Dave Woodrell fans will recognize the open depot windows complete with wind-blown curtains. Yes, for some reason the Ridgway bathroom really had windows also!

Picture #3: This overview of the Ridgway engine terminal reveals the "scenic compression" trick Art used to squeeze Ridgway into a twenty foot space. In reality, the depot was located far to the north of the engine yard. This view looks geographically north, but is actually "south" for the RGS trains that looped around south towards Dallas Divide after leaving Ridgway.

Picture #4: Another Banta Modelworks kit, the seven stall roundhouse is a dominant feature at Ridgway. The 65' Diamond Scale turntable has a NYRS indexing kit with a state-of-the-art microprocessor and precision stepper motor. The "tall outhouse" is actually an enclosed gasoline pump for the Galloping Goose fleet.

Picture #5: A dirt road and footpath head north from Ridgway past an abandoned cabin. Using forced perspective not obvious from the aisle, the road is barely wide enough for a single S scale auto, and the cabin is HO scale. There will soon be stock pens at this site in the foreground.

Picture #6: Trains leaving Ridgway pass through this cut, with its partially completed scenery, on the way to Dallas divide and points south.

Picture #7: Art calls this short stretch between Ridgway and Placerville Pleasant Valley. The scenery is only partially finished.

Picture #8: A dirt road enters Placerville from the north. Presumably , this is the same dirt road we saw leaving Ridgway. Actually, both roads are a scenic trick to disguise the transition between the layout and the backdrop.

Picture #9: The Placerville depot was scratch built by Jan Rons, and once graced his RGS in Arizona. Art is working on two metal warehouses and stock pens to complete the Placerville scene.

Picture #10: Future site of bridge 37B, the Bilk trestle, over the San Miguel. Art built all the trestle decks, but the trestle bents are not installed, so 1"x2" risers temporarily support the trains..

Picture #11: Goose #2 pauses in front of the Vance Junction Section House, yet to be built. The branch to Telluride goes nowhere, and is just a staging track for the Goose and for short trains..

Picture #12: Future site of Bridge 45A, probably the most famous trestle on the RGS, and certainly the longest. Just beyond the trestle is the Ophir depot and tramhouse.

Picture #13: Future site of Ophir. Not much to see here yet..

Picture #14: Bridge 45B, just beyond Ophir, was a rare instance of a trestle with a pedestrian walkway. The mockups will eventually be Mrs. Skillian's Store, the Gilton Saloon, and the General Merchandise Store. Today, this scene is buried 45 feet below Colorado highway 45.

Picture #15: There are four trestles in this scene, with bridge 57A, the Upper Gallagher trestle, in the foreground. This is the summit of Art's RGS, and it has been all uphill since Ridgway. Alas, Art has too small a room to model Trout Lake and Lizard Head which should be at this spot.

Picture #16: This overview of Rico shows the main structures in place, with much remaining work to be done. Art has a spot carved out just left of tank for the Pro Patria Mill, which will be the most ambitious scratch building project on the layout.

Picture #17: As with Ridgway, the Rico Depot and engine facility dominate the scene. The Rico backdrop photo was taken by Jan Rons, and once graced his RGS layout..

Picture #18: The Rico depot was scratch built by Jan Rons, and once graced his RGS layout.

Art lives 60 minutes from Orlando, and 90 minutes from Walt Disney World. Write if you will be in the area.

Art Cominio - June 2002

Click here to see Art's RR back in Feburary 2002.

Art's RGS Feb. 2002