American Freedom Train on the Blues

AFTFreezeFor most it’s a life dream to build a model railroad. For the past 25 years one of my rail buddies, Keith Schaber, has been building his Union Pacific Blue Mountain Division. Built on two levels, with operating signals and many sidings, a train will take a real 50-plus minutes to go from one end to the other and operating sessions call for several yard crews, many ‘locals’, and can handle all the ‘road crews’ that show up!

Keith did not build it alone. As the tradition here in the Monday night ’round robin’ group is all about going from layout-to-layout to help build or operate the model layout, whichever the owner decides for his assigned Monday. Thus, we all had a part in helping Keith build his amazing layout.

Six weeks ago we all came together for the final run. It was a hard decision to take down such an amazing work of art, and it is clear that you must “own the building your railroad is in”. Knowing it was coming down created motivation to film a train ‘over the hill’ and to document what would soon be, and now is, a memory. So I enlisted the help of my son, who for all of his life has been part of our N Scale group, and we set up a total of three cameras as the train rolled past. Although we have never done this before, the outcome was good. Later, I took my Great American Circus & Wild West Show as an ‘Extra East’, but that video is still being edited and will post sometime later.

You’ll see here the seven-minute version of my American Freedom Train west bound, on July 12, 2014, which was the last day of operations on the Blue Mountain Division. 

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Lowell Smith

A native of Portland, Oregon, Lowell Smith married his church choir sweetheart Barb in 1978. After a lifetime of rail-fanning, Lowell and Barb ventured out in 1992 to launch a new business in Portland, Oregon. Read more


  1. Peter Sparaco on August 23, 2014 at 10:32 am

    WOW! What a beautiful layout and a great train. Sorry that this layout is now gone. Hope some of the pieces were saved and can be reused on another layout.

    Great pictures of your AFT, Lowell. Can’t wait to complete mine.

  2. Ken on August 24, 2014 at 10:43 pm

    Wow! A really great looking layout. Wish I could have seen that one in person.

    Regarding the video, would be nice to have background mood music like “America” by Neil Diamond or “Here Comes the Freedom Train” by Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner, but on youtube, there would be a copyright problem, I guess.

    I was in Sacramento when it came through California. Never appreciated all the cars in the consist because I had my eyes on the GS4 pulling it!

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