An interesting part of the Los Angeles railway system was ‘The Patch’, an industrial area near downtown Los Angeles, served by the Santa Fe. The area contains many old buildings and industries, served by a patchwork of tracks down streets and alleys.
For prototype photos, see here. This is perhaps the signature scene, with buildings built with curved walls to match the track……
Keith Jordan has recreated this interesting area as a small switching layout. His excellent work is described on this website. He writes…..
No one knows for sure where the name originated, but here are four possible theories: One, it refers to the “patchwork quilt” nature of the myriad of tracks in the area. Two, it could have been a reference that to work the area would be akin to being “thrown into the briar patch.” Three, it refers to the switchlamps on switches, glowing red and green in the night, reminiscent of a “patch” of strawberries or green vegetables. Four, the area was industrialized in the 1880s, so it’s also possible the name refers to the garden patches that existed prior to industrialization. The earliest reference found to the name is in a 1918 report on railroads in Los Angeles.
The trackplan is interesting and would happily compress into two 4′ boards in ‘N’ gauge, and still offer hours on interesting switching.