California Dreamin’ | Sugar Short Line

Pajaro Valley Consolidated RR Logo
(Click on the image to visit Nick’s new layout blog)

While attending the Ontario Manifest in California earlier this month, I was delighted to meet Nick Lisica. Nick’s modelling is exquisite – he went home from this NMRA regional convention with a number of merit awards and category wins from the contest room, including for this lovely O scale model of a steam-powered stern-wheeler, built from a Train Troll kit with many extra details:

Alexandria by Nick Lisica

But Nick is an N scaler at heart, and has picked an obscure prototype to model. The Pajaro (“Paw-haw-row”) Valley Consolidated Railroad was a narrow gauge line created in the late 19th Century to provide sugar beet farmers in the Salinas Valley with an alternative to the Southern Pacific when transporting their produce to a refinery in Watsonville, CA. Nick’s prototype is modest, making it an achievable layout. But the SP absorbed the line in the 1920s – and the PVCRR’s modest nature and short lifespan means it’s a challenge to find information and photos of the prototype.

Port Rowan is not as obscure – it lasted longer, and later, so there are better photos and records. But I face many of the same challenges in modelling my subject as Nick does in modelling his. So while we spoke at the convention, I suggested to him that he start a blog. I pointed out that by putting his work on the web, he would open it up to search engines and therefore to a broad spectrum of people who may have information.

My experience with Port Rowan in 1:64 bears this out. Obviously, when I started it, the blog was followed primarily by fellow railway modellers (because that’s who I told I was writing a blog). But since then, my readership has grown to include people who are interested in Port Rowan, St. Williams, and the area… people who are related to railway employees on the line, and to those who were customers of the railway… and so on. I’ve received as much useful information from them as I have from those within the hobby. I never know who is going to provide the next piece of the puzzle to help me build the complete picture of the CNR’s Simcoe Sub in the 1950s.

Nick took the comments to heart, and recently emailed to say he’s started a blog about his plans for his N scale home layout. I’ve added it to my links (right side of the home page). You can also visit the Pajaro Valley Consolidated Railroad by clicking on the logo at the top of this page.

(Great to meet you, Nick! I look forward to following your progress online…)

4 thoughts on “California Dreamin’ | Sugar Short Line

  1. An interesting model, but I’m trying to figure out what kind of service it was in. Due to the lack of deck space, I would assume it was a tow boat (which actually pushes barges). But then there’s that pair of booms on the deck which would imply that cargo was loaded/unloaded from something.



      • I browsed over to the Train Troll website (the brand was unknown to me prior to reading your post). The model pictured appears to be a variation of the company’s logging steamer. An unusual model to be sure!

        There isn’t any information on the site explaining exactly how this watercraft was used. I would venture a guess that perhaps it was used to make-up rafts of logs to float down to the mill.

        So much research to be done 🙂


        • Jack and Trevor, I’m just seeing this months after the fact… From what I was able to dig up while building the model, the booms were used to tow big bundles of logs behind the boat. I based that information purely on some pictures I saw of similar operations. The Train Troll instructions show the booms facing forward, but I couldn’t tell what that would be used for, as you’re right, there isn’t room to load anything on the deck. So in my world (and the one where that boat earns a living), the boat tows large rafts or bundles of logs down the river.

          -Nick Lisica

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