Locomotive Operators of Central Oklahoma (L.O.C.O.) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the promotion and enjoyment of large scale model railroading. The scale is 1.5 inches to the foot (1/8th scale) and the track gauge (distance between the rails) is 7.5 inches making the equipment large enough to ride. The organization owns and operates an outdoor railroad on five acres of land some 15 miles east of Oklahoma City. The track plan is a modified figure eight with a mainline approximately three quarters of a mile that passes over seven bridges and through an 80-foot tunnel. In addition, there is another half-mile of sidings, spurs, and yards. The mainline has a minimum radius of fifty feet and a maximum grade of three percent. Track expansions are being planned and built that will provide over one mile of continuous mainline running.
While many members own and operate a variety of miniature railroad equipment, L.O.C.O. maintains equipment for club member use. In addition to a number of passenger-carrying cars and assorted freight cars, several locomotives are kept on site. The most interesting is probably the 4-4-2 (Atlantic) steam engine, affectionately known as “Double Aught Ugly.” This locomotive is an actual coal-fired, steam-powered locomotive and takes a fair amount of “train” knowledge and instruction to operate. For those whose railroading leans toward the cleaner and more modern, there are three models of diesel-powered locomotives. One is a GP-7, an over-the-road unit, and the second is a Super Mack, which was patterned after a light-duty switcher built by the Mack Truck Company in the 1920s. Both of these locomotives are battery powered and can be operated with a minimum of knowledge and instruction. The third diesel engine the club owns is a replica of a GP-38 and uses a gasoline engine as the primary drive source.
Every Saturday morning members meet at the track to spend time working around the L.O.C.O. property or on equipment. The first Sunday of each month is reserved as a public run day when all can come out and play trains. People wishing to see and ride the trains can arrive early and use the picnic tables on the grounds to eat lunch, and then enjoy riding trains from about 1 PM until 4 PM. The second Sunday of the month is reserved for club members to bring their equipment to the track and enjoy running trains with a train dispatcher that can control the movement of trains running bi-directionally (both ways at the same time) by radio dispatch. During these second Sunday run sessions, some special night time operations can also occur.
The L.O.C.O. facilities are meant to be enjoyed by everyone and can be made available for special events with children’s birthday parties topping the list. For a donation determined by the number of guests, trains (made up with “kid-sized” cars) along with qualified operators will be dedicated to the party group and ready to carry excited riders over the rails.
To be sure, this is an unusual but exciting twist to the model railroading hobby. If it sounds like something that may interest you, please come out and visit. Get to know us and get involved. Memberships are ALWAYS available!
This photo was taken during the October 2010 club run.