Big mountain range

SceneIt Nov 15, 2020

  1. SceneIt

    SceneIt New Member

    Hello. I am a newbie to model railroads and creating the scenery for it. I am working on an n-scale design that is supposed to have a large mountain range running through it to divide it into 3 areas. The table is 13' long and between 3' and 8' wide T shaped. The layout has several curves and an incline and decline which goes through the mountain range.

    My question is, how tall should I make the mountain and have it be in scale with the trains? The mountain range will be on the near inside loop, and just outside of the middle loop with a cutout for the train, and turn into rolling hill in the last loop.

    Thanks for your advice.
  2. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

    How high is more often limited to the horizontal area available, and the desired slope of the sides of the mountains, than scale height. It is usually impossible to represent mountains to scale on a layout.
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  3. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member

    Mountains can be as large as you want them to be; you can have sheer, near-vertical rock faces, or more gently-sloped flanks covered in trees. It's limited only by your imagination. I have a 3x7' layout on a HCD, and my mountain is 16" above track level, with another 4" below track level. With as much real estate as you have (jealous! :p), you can have upwards of 24-36 vertical inches worth of mountains. That's one of the best things about N scale: the ability of the trains to be dwarfed by scenery.

  4. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    In reality, mountains usually dwarf the trains in any scene. The photo Hemi posted is a nice example. Famous HO modeler John Allen built his mountains down from the benchtop, to his floor. Which created a spectacular feeling of being up in those mountains.

    It will all come down to how much space you have available. You do not need to take up a large width. Use a scenic divider, with mountains painted to show height and distance. Then build up a shallow hill along the front of the divider with more matching scenery.
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    BNSF FAN TrainBoard Supporter

    Just an idea, take a sheet of green poster board and cut it into the tallest mountain you can make it into, then stand it on the layout to see how the height looks to you. If it's to high, cut an inch at a time of the bottom until it looks right to your eye and go with that. :)
  6. Mudkip Orange

    Mudkip Orange TrainBoard Member

    I would suggest you pick a slope that's realistic for where you're imagining the railroad to be, then let that determine the height.

    For example, the mountains surrounding the famous Horseshoe Curve in Pennsylvania rise at about a 25 to 35 degree angle, or 5" to 8" for every foot.


    On the other side of the country, the old MILW route over Snoqualmie Pass cut through mountains with a 55 to 70 degree slope, 17 to 33" in every foot.


    The D&RGW through Colorado's Royal Gorge was practically vertical.


    While Kintetsu's Kyoto Line is almost perfectly flat, but still has tunnels under thousand-year-old irrigation canals for rice farms.

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