I've been thinking about my next layout project lately. When I decided to model BNSF's Marias Pass, Union Pacific's Donner Pass was also on the short list of locations. Donner Pass which is located in California has recently been given a lot of attention as Union Pacific upgraded the line to handle full height double stack trains. Some other items of interest for me is that the line has both single and double track, wooden and concreate ties, Amtrak operations, BNSF trackage rights, tunnels, and more. My initial thoughts are creating a 2 sided layout where I could replicate the western slope with trees and thick vegetation, and then go farther east and model perhaps Sparks, NV where I could replicate more of an arid desert area including a small intermodal yard. With the introduction of the BLMA spine cars, piggy packers by Wheels of Time, and many other international and domestic intermodal equipment, I want to make intermodal traffic and operations a focus on this model railroad.
I've never been to Donner Pass, but much like my previous layouts, I spend a lot of time researching the area before I jump in. Someday I'd like to visit the places I have modeled and plan to model, but family and career take priority right now. There are so many resources including the internet that make it very feasible to model an area that I have never seen before.
I have a decent sized DVD library including two fairly recent additions covering the current Donner Pass after the Union Pacific completed upgrades to the line. Pentrex is a very popular video producer and offer a sizable list of train videos. 7idea Productions has a smaller menu, but their videos are fantastic in both quality and overall entertainment.
So, I continue to do research and think about track plans and overall layout configurations. Meanwhile, I am enjoying Marias Pass, and I have acquired a fairly large collection of rollingstock over the past several months that need graffiti and weathering applied. Having a variety of opportunities is what makes this hobby (and addiction) so great.