Mr. Verbosity is going to do it again: Type an illustrated novelette!
Now on with the show!...
First off. Lots has happened on my F&LR project.
For starters, after reaching the first summit town of Boston, it was my intention to follow the ridge to a drop off point, some 20 miles away. (I have assumed that is what the F&LR was going to do "back when".) Well... there just wasn't any way. I spent several evenings scouting terrain and studying topo maps. The top of the ridge rises/falls too fast to use. I may go back and try again... but for now it's just not happening. What DID those founding father "crazies" have in mind when they chartered to Lewisburg???
SOOOooo... it was drop back and punt.
Figured the best option was to look for a way over the divide near Boston, and try to get a line down to Little Mulberry Creek, then run Little Muberry to the Mulberry River valley, head east, and follow the Mulberry River up toward its headwaters until I could find a suitable hollow(s) to gain the altitude needed to surmount the final divide.
This I did, though it was not by the routing I thought I was going to use! (These are some RUGGED mountains, fella's! Gotta' adjust along the way!) Along the way between Boston and the next divide, the rails pass through such illustrious places as Spoke Plant, Friley, Yale, Oark, Catalpa, and Hignite. Once the rails were up on top, the town of Clifty was born. From Clifty, the rails drop down the steepest grade on the line using Clifty Hollow and Devil's Fork Hollow. FINALLY, the rails have reached Little Piney Creek, the watercourse the line will use to exit the roughest of the mountains.
It's been some mighty tough sluggin' to get this thing through these tumbled masses of terra firma known as The Ozarks... but lemme' tell 'ya... when running a train in the sim, the scenes are well worth it! It would have been SO COOL if the prototype had been completed!
Fayette Junction to St. Paul: 1.05% with short stretches of 1.31%.
St. Paul to Pettigrew: 1.31% and 1.57%.
Pettigrew to Boston: 3.14%
Descent to Spoke Plant: 3.14%
Spoke Plant to Hignite (descending and ascending): 1.05%.
Hignite to Clifty: 3.14%
Descent from Clifty to Little Piney creek: 3.66%
Running the Little Piney appears I'll be able to keep the gradient to 1.05%.
Unknown what I'll face once I start working eastward in the foothills alongside the Arkansas River to Lewisburg!
As for distances:
As per the prototype, St. Paul Branch to Pettigrew is 40.9 miles. Until completed, it is difficult to reckon exact mileage, but I think it is safe to assume that I have already nearly doubled the miles constructing the unfinished portion of the F&LR. Total miles to Lewisburg should be in the 145-150 range.
Now for some illustrations...
First up: An overall pic of the route's progress as of the today: