History of the Organization:
The Hennepin Overland is the successor to an unincorporated association of railroad hobbyists formed in 1976 in Richfield. In 1985, the Hennepin-Overland (then 1,600 square feet) was moved and reassembled in 1987 at Lexington and University in St. Paul. In 1996, enlarged to 4,000 square feet, Hennepin-Overland began looking for its own facility and settled in 1997 on the current building in Minneapolis. The display was then taken apart again and stored. In July, 1999, the display was opened in time for the National Model Railroad Association Convention in St. Paul.
About The Layout:
The 4,000 square foot railroad display of the Hennepin-Overland Museum currently consists of eastbound and westbound mainlines, a branchline serving the fictitious towns of New Bergin and Summit, a logging line featuring a breathtaking hand-made trestle bridge and a logging camp, multiple upper level storage yards and industrial spurs, and lower-level storage/staging yards.
There is no prototype for the Hennepin-Overland; it is a freelance layout design. There is no particular era represented, though we try to use structures that date to the late steam era (1930-1960).
The main line is basically a two-track loop enabling continuous running, although reverse loops around the main helix allow it to be operated as a two-track loop-to-loop main. Typically a train spends about half its time in the “off-stage” portions of the layout.
Operationally the layout could be operated by one person (but somewhat limited) or up to about 15 people. With an operable helix, we have run up to three trains on each main line at one time. If we can stay organized enough, we should be able to have up to ten trains running simultaneously on the mains and branch lines, not including local switching and industrial branches or commuters. When we get full-blown operating sessions, it would not be unusual to see 15 or more locomotives or trains all moving simultaneously.
Features of the layout will include a steel mill complex, a grain terminal complex, two industrial/warehouse areas, a passenger depot for 15-car passenger trains, a full branch line that can also be run as a second interchanging railroad, a locomotive/car shop complex, a logging branch line, 1500-car main staging yards, a 150 car branch line staging yard, a fully operating signal system using block occupancy detection, and full digital command and control using Digitrax DCC.
Within a 10.5 scale mile main line, a train traveling 60 scale miles per hour would theoretically take 10.5 minutes to run the whole main line. In practice it takes about 15 to 18 minutes. A drag freight from the steam era would take around 30 to 40 minutes for a complete trip.