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The Big Picture:

The Chile Verde Line is an indoor-outdoor 1:20.3 Fn3 (3-foot narrow gauge) railroad. Unlike the actual Chili Line, Espanola is a small-unincorporated village and Chamita is the developed rail town. I was asked by a fellow model railroader why I chose to build an indoor/outdoor railroad rather than a garden railroad with indoor storage. One of the reasons we purchased the house that we currently live in was because the property was conducive to the landscape that I wanted to build my railroad on. This is the right landscape for an outdoor railroad but building a purely garden railroad was never an option. As you can see from the photos of the outdoor portion of the railroad, I carved the roadbed in the side of an existing hill. I wanted my railroad to look and feel like it was actually traversing through Northern New Mexico terrain, which in fact, it is. One major downside to having the railroad on the side of a sandstone hill is the weather. We get major monsoon storms here at least three times a year during the summer. When that happens, the railroad is covered with sand, rock, and other debris. At worst, portions of the track and roadbed are totally washed out. Extreme temperature fluctuations are also problematic, especially when it comes to rail expansion and contraction. Having scale model structures outside is also challenging. I would not be able to leave them outside for extended periods.

The image on the upper right was what the outdoor track use to look like. I ended up replacing all the track and went with a single track return loop.


The indoor portion of the railroad is in a building (24’x40’) that was purpose built for the railroad. Relatively speaking, my railroad is rather small. The indoor portion of the railroad is about 21’ by 40’, in the shape of a lopsided chubby “H”. Having a portion of the railroad indoors gave me the opportunity to do some of the things that I enjoy, such as building structures, doing scenery, and painting backdrops. Other than the red sandstone cliffs, the backdrops are a reasonable depiction of the landscape that I see every day when looking at the mountains in all directions from our house, but even the cliffs are only a few miles away. The town of Chamita is indoors and the line to Santa Fe and the branch line to Los Alamos Junction are outdoors. The outdoor portion goes out 170 feet on a 2% grade, with plenty of room to expand. The picture above and the picture on the Home page gives you a good feel for what the outdoor portion of the railroad looks like. In 2021 I had to replace all of the outdoor track. 

As you might imagine, when deciding what photos to put on this website, for the most part, I choose those that made the layout appear as if there were no windows, doors isles, shelving, clutter etc. If you want to know what the layout looks like without just seeing staged shots check out Ernie Barney's youtube video that he did on my layout. Ernie is the founding father of the Chili Line Forum website. The video is called Bob Dolci's Chile Verde Line. Click on the orange button to see the video.

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The following four pictures are of the outdoor elevated yard. The structures are placed there during operations. During open house shows I will add "dirt and gravel" around each building to properly "seat" them.

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