THE END OF AN ERA
BY MICHAEL D. CARVER
If you have been around this community or train simulator for any length of time, titles like “Colton to Northern” or “Ohio Steel 2” may summon fond memories and so you may know of Rich Garber. If you are new or haven’t heard of Rich’s work, then you may care to take note. You see, after I purchased “Train Simulator” I was very happy. I could relive my childhood model train days and not have to worry about space, storage or the time it takes to set it up or take to take down the track. But something was missing, something was lacking and I just couldn’t put my finger on it; like a junkie I wanted more from the program. A short time later I was reading a recommendation someone was making regarding a route called “Ohio Steel 2 – Dover and Massillon Division” by Mr. Richard Garber. So I found it on “Steam” and I purchased it. I was so glad I did, as it is a fantastic piece of work! From then on I purchased every route he created and have never been disappointed.
Unfortunately, like so many of the other great individuals in this community here lately, Rich as decided to hang up his hat. But before the last switch is flipped and the work lamp goes out for the final time, I think it’s only proper to give a review of his final route. His final masterpiece is called “Fort Smith to Heavener” and is the embodiment of twelve years of experience in building train routes. The route itself is approximately a 50 mile long recreation of the Heavener Subdivision so it’s not too long nor is it too short. The grades are not steep and with mainline speed limit of 55 mph, it makes it a pleasure to drive.
Today the Arkansas & Missouri (A&M) Railroad (Class III Railroad) interchanges traffic with three Class I railroads: Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF), Kansas City Southern (KCS), and the Union Pacific (UP), as well as the Fort Smith Railroad (FSR) in this branch or subdivision. So the route is suitable for the creation of prototypical scenarios featuring traffic of these railroad companies. The A&M Railroad is one of the few commercial lines in the U. S. operating both freight and passenger service on a regular railway. Their excursion trips utilize refurbished antique passenger or parlor coaches thus further widening the possibilities for scenario creation involving this great route.
As part of the route package there are 18 scenarios presented in a style that is signature Rich Garber, he turns these scenarios into something more than mere “A” to “B” train runs. He skillfully incorporates history, area information, and storyline in a manner which is not only entertaining but educational. So when all is said and done, you have a much better feel and understanding of the route and the features it contains. It doesn’t stop there either, as Rich has weaved new ground textures and new structures into an environment that give the route a unique look and feel just as he has done in his other creations.
The opportunities for switching/shunting and the creation of such scenarios abound as it contains various industries and long yards, thus allowing you to use a wide range of rolling stock. Due to the fairly recent way Railsimulator.com Ltd (RSC) has structure things you will need to acquire the European and USA assets from RSC (Listing in the Steam DLC area) if you have newly purchase “Railworks 2013” or later. I would recommend this anyway, as almost all route creators utilize these assets in their creations. Also please note that all of Rich’s routes 3DTrains’ “Scaleroads” and “Rural Landscapes” packages. There are free versions of these packages available from 3DTrains.com. To acquire these packages you only need to register at the 3Dtrains forum and download these packages for free. But I would urge to seriously consider purchasing the HD versions as they truly improve the emersion.
So in conclusion, if you like running down the mainline or love switching then this route is indeed for you. All of Rich’s creations but this one are available as downloadable content on “Steam”, and granted this route has been available for about a year on his website (www.allaboardrails.com for $29.95). But with his website currently scheduled to go dark sometime in mid-December; I think it all that more important to point out this route, as it would be a shame to lose this gem to the sands of time. I have only two selfish regrets, that being we will not see an extension to “Ohio Steel 2 – Dover and Massillon Division”, and I was not able to purchase the scenarios created for that route by Mr. Doug Smith before he passed. To Rich, I wish all the best in his future pursuits and dreams. Rich don’t hold it against me if I hold out hope that one day you may return and we get to see that “Ohio Steel” extension.