Here are a couple real-life examples of neat industrial rail operations:

The first example is located in picturesque Manheim, Pennsylvania. Manheim is in the heart of Amish country in Lancaster County. Here, the Manheim Industrial Railroad operates a mile of former NS track.  The Manheim Industrial is a division of East Penn Railroad, LLC. When NS couldn't give Ferrellgas the service they required, East Penn stepped in to handle switching of inbound lpg. A classic minimalist shortline.

Here is an Aerial Photo

Ferrell is located on the former Cornwall RR. The former interchange with the RDG was just south in Manheim proper (where the wye is located). Today, a Norfolk Southern local shoves cars of lpg past the wye, dropping them north of E. Steigel Street. East Penn uses a trackmobile to drill loads and empties in and out of Ferrell. Up to 9 or 10 cars may be dropped by NS. Ferrell can unload three cars at a time, so switching gets complicated quickly!

Ferrell Gas siding, looking south down the main. NS Interchange is past the crossing ahead.

NS local shoving lpg loads onto the interchange.

Backing in loads to be dropped north of the wye. There were some neat trackside industrial buildings in Manheim, but they were all razed in 2006.

Picking up empties. View is looking north from E. Steigel Street.

Now let's travel from PA to MI to look at another small classic: the Lapeer Industrial Railroad. Owned by the Adrian & Blissfield, the Lapeer Industrial operates 1.34 miles of former GTW rails to serve a grain elevator and a manufacturer of adhesives. Here is an AIR PHOTO of the line, which branches off the GTW main near the Lapeer Amtrak station. Note how all switches are trailing point, so there is no need for a runaround. Click HERE for an interesting article about the railroad.


  1. Love your modeling concepts! Another "short" line operation that might interest you is the Kendallville Terminal Railway, Kendallville, IN. 1.1 miles in length and serves the Kraft Foods Marshmallow Plant. Delivers Air-Slide covered hoppers and tank cars to the plant.
    As a side note, I was trying to model the Lapeer Industrial Railroad in HO scale, but just can't get the interchange and Lapeer Grain the way I want it. Also, LIRR has recently added a short siding at the interchange, and I can't put it where it belongs. Back to the drawing board!

  2. Hi Ed,

    Thanks for the info on the KT. I'll be sure to look that one up. I've enjoyed following your layout planning thread on the Big Blue Forum. Lot's of good stuff there!


  3. Jack;
    Seems like I've spent most of the time since I retired last October, looking for very small operations that could be modeled. Glad you like the plan for the LIRR, but looks like I may have to come up with something else that I like. I've found several operations that appeal to me in one way or another - all based on very small operations.
    In your part of the country there is the Landisville Railroad and I just recently discovered the Mt Vernon Terminal Railway in Mt Vernon Washington.
    I'll probably just end up free-lancing something that incorporates features from several of these small railroads. Seems that I get bogged down in trying to get a certain track arrangement "correct" and then find it won't work.
    Keep up the good work - enjoy your blog a lot!

  4. Thanks for the fascinating blog post! I enjoy modeling short lines and I am always looking for unique prototypes. Unfortunately, short lines in my part of the country (Oklahoma) tend to be long, rambling affairs, rather than compact switching operations. One exception is the Northwest Oklahoma Railroad (NOKL) in Woodward, OK. Very cool switching operation that is worth checking out.