1950-60 RR route info? And a few other questions.

I've been Google-ing my brains out on this one and haven't been able to find and answer. Hopefully someone here does.
Simply put, is there a Web resource/link that will show me what
railroads traveled what parts of the country between 1950 and 1965? Here's my dilemma:
I want to build an N gauge scene of a completely imaginary place with lots of somewhat mountaneous-cliffy forest land that could depict anywhere between Chicago and Oregon/Wash state during the 1950s and early 1960s. Could be the Missouri Ozarks, could even be British Columbia. Doesn't matter -- I'm trying to create atmosphere. But still, keeping a correct historical perspective for that time frame in whatever region I settle upon quite is important to me as well. I get the feeling that it's kinda hard to go wrong with an ATSF loco/rolling stock (which I'm kinda partial to) because the ATSF was pretty much everywhere, but the ATSF isn't the be all and end all, and I'm not even even sure the ATSF made it all the way up the Pacific coast.
But by the same token, I still would like to balance all that with whatever region and whatever railroad during that era had the coolest-looking engines, most notably for freight hauling, but the passenger loco and cars serving that region have to have a bit of panache, too.
In short, for accuarcy's sake, I dont want to have an ATSF freight running side by side with a Union Pacific passenger train if those two RRs would never have been seen side by side, even on differerent tracks. So -- anyone out there know of where I can reference a simple route map of the major RRs serving the different parts of the US between 1950 and 1965?
Also, is there a Web reference out there that shows what RRs were using what color schemes for their locos during 1950 and 1966? The catalogs aren't a huge help in this respct. I'd hate to end up running a loco in a 1950s display with a color scheme that wasn't actually introduced until the 1970s.
And last, is there a catalog/model company that also produces N scale inter-urban electric/gas-electric commuter trains from 1950-65? I'd like to add something like that to my freight/commuter line, but all Walthers offers is a St. Louis gas electric car for HO (which doesn't help me at N gauge), and the one N gauger Walters has is being discontinued as soon as they run out of them.
Thanks for the help.
AJS
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The ideal document would be an older copy of the "Rand McNally Handy Railroad Atlas of the United States". It has state by state 9" x 13" maps of the RRs. Note that even with a state per page, it can't be used to tell whether the lines were side by side, opposite sides of a valley, or a mile apart. I'm not aware of a site that offers it on line, but you could try www.bookfinders.com or a similar used book site, and ebay.
Perhaps not an initial source, but before long, I think you may want the additional detail in an old pre-AMTRAK copy of the "Official Guide of the Railroads". This is the size of a large city's telephone book, and has the complete timetables with route maps for all major US RRs. They used to be printed monthly. It also lists all freight only lines, and has a handy town by town index listing all RRs that served each city and town. A disadvantage is that RRs modify their timetable route maps to enlarge the states where they serve and reduce the size of adjacent territory, to straighten out their lines to appear more direct, and while showing important connecting roads, often omit competitor's parallel lines. Used book dealers or ebay would be possible sources.
If you refuse to invest in printed resouces, the best I can suggest on the web is to work through the various RR historical society sites one by one.

Try www.rr-fallenflags.com - they have a huge collection of nicely indexed photos that usually list the date a photo was taken.
Gary Q
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Oops! No "s" It's www.bookfinder.com
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In addition, there are history books written for about all of the major railroads. Using the advanced features of the bookfinder website can provide a nice list of railroad histories. NP, GN and others worked across the top of the country while ATSF and UP more worked the central latitudes and SP did the lower latitudes in the west. Needless to say, each of the railroads did things fairly differently so you might also want to look at how each of the railroads operated their trackage.
-- Bob May Losing weight is easy! If you ever want to lose weight, eat and drink less. Works every time it is tried!
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AJS,
You may be able to find the answers to your questions in the following references:
http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/gmdhtml/rrhtml/rrhome.html
http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/gmdhtml/trnsmapSubjects05.html
http://www.railwaystation.com /
http://www.trainboard.com/railroads /
http://urbaneagle.com/data/RRdieselchrono.html
http://www.rr-fallenflags.org /
http://www.ole.net/~rcraig/INDEXRGL.html
http://trains.com/home.asp
http://abpr2.railfan.net /
HTH,
--
73 de KTŘT
Bob Schwartz
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AJScott wrote:

I can't find one, just people selling them. Any reason you are adverse to going to a library and looking at a paper copy? Encyclopedias often have excellent maps in them. I have a set of 1957 Colliers that I keep around just for the State maps that have the railroads marked on them.

Huge differences in atmosphere there. Anything from conifer rain forest in WA, mountains to the most desolate desert in southern OR.

FYI - depending on how you count it the ATSF made it to the Pacific Coast at various times to at least 4 major ports.

What do you consider a cool looking locomotive? Some to some people there is nothing cooler than a shay while others think the Big Boy is coolest. Personally I am finding the small heavy locomotives are some of the coolest, like Santa Fe's heavy 2-6-2s built by Baldwin. Other people like the exotic one or two of a kind things like the NW John Henry, and the UP turbines.

Once again here it might be better to pick the railroads you like and then find out where they were together. For example UP & AT&SF ran side by side and even on the same tracks in quite a few places.

The board game "Rail Barons" has a close approximation of the major lines. My daughter surprised her history teacher by knowing all the RRs and their routes from playing it.
There should be tons of references at your local library. Almost every book on a specific railroad has a map of the route and connections (often in the front or rear cover).

That is going to be harder. You will probably have to investigate each railroad by itself. Each of the railroads usually has one or a couple historical societies that keep track of stuff like this. I find the Minneapolis & St. Louis to be a fascinating smaller railroad with some interesting paint schemes.

That might be harder to fit into all your other requirements outlined above. It almost limits you to the really big cities like Chicago, LA, SF, and the likes. I think one of the most interesting interurban was SP&S's Oregon Electric but that would be diesel powered after 1945.
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http://nyow.railfan.net/pfmsig/atlas48.html 1948 maps.... should hold up well for routes into the 1960's
Steve -- Steve Lynch www.trainsarefun.com www.NYandW.com
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