(Interested in Robert but not in railroads? Check here.)

I'm a model railroader; most of my interest is in California railroads, especially in the Bay Area in the 1930's and 1940's. I'm particularly interested in model railroad design and operation, historical research, building models of specific locations and buildings, and trying to capture a feeling for what California was like when canneries and dried fruit was the Next Big Thing.

I've built two model railroads based on California in the 1930's:

Southern Pacific Vasona Branch


My Southern Pacific Vasona Branch is a 10x15 foot two-level layout modeling scenes along the San Jose to Santa Cruz branch of the SP in the 1930's. It's primarily a switching layout, requiring crews to switch the canneries and packing houses in San Jose, Santa Clara, and Los Gatos. Occasional through trains run through the Santa Cruz Mountains and pass through the hamlets of Alma, Wrights, and Glenwood.

Start here for details about the layout, or read my Vasona Branch blog for details on recent projects and occasional historic photos and facts.

San Jose Market Street Station


My San Jose Market Street station scene is a 2x7 foot shelf layout modeling the sights around San Jose's old passenger station on Bassett Street north of downtown San Jose. I model the old Victorian station and (eventually) the train shed, and several of the industries in the area.

Other Articles

Here are some of the things I've written that aren't strictly about the layouts:

I've collected and scanned some of the Southern Pacific timetable and other paperwork I use for source material

I also have slides for some of the model railroad-related presentations I’ve given.

I’ve also written SwitchList, a Macintosh program for generating model railroad switchlists. It automatically decides where freight cars move during operating sessions.

Recent Changes:


  • Long article on the packing houses near San Jose’s Market Street station, condensing several articles on the blog. (12/2010).
  • First public release of SwitchList, the software I use to plan operating sessions on the Vasona Branch. (11/2010).
  • I try to post a new entry every couple of weeks to my model railroad blog. There's lots of stories about the Vasona Branch layout there. (11/2009)
  • I've been distracted lately building and using a 3D printer. (11/2009)
  • First version of the California buildings rant. (1/4/09)
  • New page on Smith Manufacturing Co. in San Jose, and my model of one of their buildings. (1/4/09)
  • More pictures of the model of the town of Wrights in Vasona Towns. (1/4/09)
  • Installing LEDs in Class 5 searchlight signals on the Vasona Branch signals page. (1/3/09)
  • San Jose SPINS track diagram gazeteer added. Learn the history of some of the industries referenced in the SPINS diagrams. (1/3/09)