Union Station - LiDAR Scanning of Model Train Layouts

Date: 11/1/12
Principal Researchers:
  • Julia Ausloos
Location: Union Station - Denver, CO

In the basement of Union Station, in the LoDo district of downtown Denver, lies two different model train layouts belonging to two distinct model railroading clubs.  The first layout is the oldest and one of the largest O Scale (1/4” = 1’ -0”) railroad layouts in the country, called the Colorado Midland Railway. Construction of this model layout began in the 1920s and continues today to be run and maintained by the Denver Society of Model Railroaders. This O Scale layout contains 6500 square feet, including 4000 linear track feet, and exemplifies the vast variations in Colorado’s landscape and geography.  The second layout is standard gauge HO scale and was built and continues to be maintained by thePlatte Valley and Western Model Railroad Club.  The layout contains more than 1000 feet of track, and the railroad and landscape is set in the fall of 1953, the peak of the transition from steam engines to diesel locomotives.  Both of the model train layouts consist of complex construction and an array of organically modeled landscapes. The complexity and uniqueness of these layouts lend themselves to be great subjects for LiDAR laser scanning.

The Center of Preservation Research (CoPR) of the University of Colorado Denver scanned the Union Station Model Train Layouts using LiDAR 3D scanning technology.   Over a span of four days, CoPR was able to acquire nineteen different scan locations of the two model train layouts, and with those nineteen scan locations 85% coverage of the layouts was achieved.   Following the acquisition of point-cloud data by use of LiDAR technology, a number of digital media deliverables were created.  Some of these deliverables include: HDR interactive QuickTime videos, high quality scan shots of 3D data, dimensioned 2D orthogonal plan view drawings, and a virtual fly-through tour.