Historically, the St. Louis Southwestern (Cotton Belt) went into receivership in the late 1880's as the Texas and St. Louis (T&SL). When it emerged from bankruptcy, the company rebranded itself as the St. Louis Southwestern Railroad. At one time it was also the second longest narrow-gauge railroad in the United States and stretched from East St. Louis, Missouri to Gatesville, Texas, all narrow gauge. My railroad models the premise that the government would not allow the railroad to abandon service on some narrow-gauge routes, and therefore, narrow gauge steam could be found into the diesel transition era in mid America and East Texas.
The T&SL is a 39' X 19' HO/HOn3 layout which models the Cotton Belt in East Texas in 1958. Motive power is primarily first-generation diesels with an occasional steam engine making an appearance. The layout currently allows for 4-6 operators with a dispatcher. All trains run extra with the exception of passenger service and the Blue Streak Merchandise. Construction on the layout began in March of 2019. Scenery is roughly 75% complete at this time. The pike uses JMRI for dispatching and car inventory. Currently the narrow gauge is not in service pending additional expansion which should be completed by the end of 2022. There is a 10-track staging yard that represents Texarkana and points north. Trains arrive and depart Tyler yard where they are broken down and reassembled for departure.