IMPORTANT! The Ozark Northern requires "MSTS Bin" to be installed in your MSTS! The MSTS Bin enhancement is free and is available by clicking here!
ALSO: If you are a NEWCOMER to running steam locomotives and realistic physics in MSTS, then it is strongly suggested you select the SIMPLE CONTROLS option in your MSTS Options menu before taking a quick run on the Ozark Northern!
Leaning out the glistening hog's cab window, Irish looks down on you with an amused grin.
"Well tell me, lad, ye know what we call this line, now don't cha?. Me n' the boys call it the 'Ozark Wonder Line'... 'cause to us all it's a wonder they made it!" With that Irish let out a gregarious laugh that only a jolly Irishman can emit.
With a nervous laugh in response, you grab the handrail and climb up the tender steps to board the panting locomotive.
You thought this day would never come... but finally... after what seemed to be an eternity of waiting, your letter arrived. Barely 18, you've been hired by the Ozark Northern as a Brakeman Trainee. No doubt a life time of adventure on the high rails awaits you in this wild and rugged region of the Ozarks.
The rails have arrived to the mountains round about, and riding on those steel rails, boom times have come to the Ozarks. Continued expansion is in the minds of all the railroads of the region as they clamor to tap into the natural wealth that lays waiting for them to capitalize upon.
Sitting in the cab, listening to the soft hissing of the steam and feeling the heat off the backhead, you can't help but wonder what new experiences lie ahead waiting to be lived. Just like your career in railroading, the 1890's are barely underway... and your adventure awaits you...
The Ozark Northern concept represents a new frontier in Microsoft Train Simulation: 1890's boom times! Passing through some of the most rugged sections of the Ozarks, the Ozark Northern draws its inspiration from actual prototypes that existed in the area. In fact, portions of the Ozark Northern uses segments of actual mainline rights-of-ways of long-gone lines in the region, and those portions that are proto-lanced have been done using prototype standards and practices. The Ozark Northern contains about 20 miles of track, including a few short branches and lengthy industrial spurs. Don't let its length fool you! Given the grades and such, it requires about 1 hour to run non-stop from end-to-end.
WHY the 1890's?
Many factors have led to a long time personal fascination with the railroading of the late 19th century. Without attempting to expound the various factors, let me simply share some of the more significant...
Railroads were growing. Lines were being extended almost everywhere. Big plans were being made... some of those plans came to fruition, many didn't. However, the future was, well, the future! Who really could know what line would continue to grow and become stronger? Even shortlines that were being constructed had grand schemes of far flung rail empires that would grow from their modest beginnings. The Ozarks in particular were filled with a profusion of small railroads being built. Almost all of them with dreams of becoming extensive transportation systems. Among such an enviorn as this, a soundly based proto-lanced concept can be instantly "plausible", and thus easy for the V scale railroader's mind to suspend disbelief and enjoy good "immersion" when operating within such a virtual world.
Railroading during the era was rugged. It was not a case of pulling a throttle or dynamic brake lever! Much more was involved in moving trains over the lines. Even a line with modest grades becomes quite a challenge when using such early equipment. Fortunately, the vast differences between "then" and "now" translates quite nicely in Microsoft's Train Simulator. Work had been done to carefully replicate the physics of the equipment as closely as possible, given the data available. As a V scale railroader, you will find railroading on the Ozark Northern route much more challenging than on a modern route!
The 1890's in the Ozarks was a time of transition. Hard to believe, but many, many regions of the Ozarks were essentially untamed during that time. Those towns that did exist had to survive on stagecoach travel and team wagons to bring in those migrating to the region as well as deliver the supplies that were vital to their existance.
There was quite an ethnic variety that was beginning to move into the region during that era, as well. These were coming in from eastern US cities, looking for the opportunity to build themselves a future in the United States of America. Mainly, these immigrants were European in descent. The majority of the European immigrants coming into the Ozarks were from Ireland, Scotland, England, Germany, the Scandinavian countries, as well as Italy. In fact, there still remains a town in the region that was primarily populated by Italian immigrants for decades: Tonnitown, Arkansas.
Of course, these immigrants had to settle among some of the most rugged and individualistic regional inhabitants imagineable: The Ozark Hillbilly. Can you imagine the conflict of dialects that existed between a recent immigrant that still spoke Queen's English and one that spoke two generations of Ozarkeese? Quite an interesting time in history!
THE ROUTE ENVIRONMENT:
Every effort has been made to effectively portray the look and atmosphere of the era. Ozark mountain towns during the 1890's were rough and tumble affairs comprising of structures built with a variety of locally available materials. Therein you will find structures built with raw lumber, rough hewn lumber, logs, and even some tents! Of course, some of the buildings were painted, but typically the paint work was very basic with few frills. It was a rugged area, with rugged people. That's the way boom towns in the Ozarks were!
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