Plaster City Depot




Plaster City Depot


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History -

In case you were wondering “What is Plaster City?”  Plaster City, is an unincorporated area and home to a large United States Gypsum plant which makes the SHEETROCK brand of gypsum panels.  The plant is connected to a gypsum quarry by a 20 mile narrow gauge railroad which is the last industrial narrow gauge railroad in the United States.

The Plaster City depot is gone, covered up by the white gypsum sands which blow from the U.S. Gypsum Corporation processing plant. In earlier times, this was an important depot transporting supplies and workers to the narrow gauge operations and gypsum exports both East and West on the SD&AE.

Description of the Plaster City facility, courtesy Land Use Database.


The Prototype -

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Building the model -

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When the San Diego Model Railroad Club was building its SD&AE Plaster City yard, the narrow gauge (36" gauge) Plaster City Railroad trackage was also being planned and built. Then came the task of locating plans and pictures of the buildings at Plaster City. Visits to the library and the Pioneer Museum in El Centro produced very few results. The Book "San Diego and Arizona: The Impossible Railroad" 1984) by Robert M. Hanft, shows the only known (by me) view of the Plaster City Depot, taken on 16 December, 1973, and showing only two sides (front and right side facing the track).

Armed with this single photograph, I measured the depot using the doors and windows, (assuming typical door and/or window sizes). The original structure at Plaster City was no longer in existance by the time the layout project was begun and measurements of even the foundation was not an option.

I constructed the model of balsa wood sheet and pine wood, taking modeler's license, using knowledge garnered over the years by being personally acquainted with railway building practices (bridges and buildings). As for the unphotographed back two sides (back wall and left side of the depot facing the track), I had to guess as to the probable placement of additional doors and windows.

The model has interior details, but little can be seen as it is placed some distance from the viewing public. A lone palm tree next to the depot provides a welcome spot of shade from the blistering sun and the everpresent white plaster residue. The depot model was completed in 1985.

Pat "Ric" Allen - Narrow Gauge - S.D.M.R.R.A.


Historical Photo: Henry Bender, Jr. from W.C. Whittaker
Model Photos: Rob Hanson