Operating the Elevator
The illusion of getting log trains filled somewhere up on the mountain and getting them emptied at the base of the mountain is accomplished crudely, but it's much better than either empties or fulls taking a two-way trip (which makes a guy scratch his head and wonder how the heck they ever stayed in business!). Here's how the sleight of hand is done (refer to fig. 1):
(a) The empty log train backs out of a log train shed at F and climbs up the switchbacks—the reversing tracks (e.g.: D) are, of course, longer than the length of the train (I pull three cars with my SW9 which makes the train little more than a foot long).
(b) Once I get the train to the top I enter a tunnel portal at H and enter the elevator at E, but to an onlooker, the train is simply using the tunnel to go to a spot higher up the mountain where the trees are now being cut down.
(c) The train descends in the elevator and backs up and stops on siding B.
(d) The full log train waiting on siding A goes forward to the elevator, ascends, and backs out the portal and travels down the mountain via the switchbacks. A grade of up to 3% doesn't bother a descending full train or an ascending empty train, thanks to the great job of gearing in the best N-scale switcher ever: Life-Like's SW9.
(e) I now drive the train to the log dump at the lumber mill at G, pause respectfully since we all know the logs are supposed to get dropped off here, and then proceed to the "log train shed," whatever that is, and "sneak out a side door" and go under the mountain. Here I hide the full train on the siding parallel to the empty train. I'm now ready to repeat the cycle from (a) to (e).
To the onlooker, an empty train went up the mountain, got loaded with logs, and came back down again—full—and it's now going into its shed. I suppose I could build a shed so long it extends behind the mill and encloses the log dump so it would make more sense when you thought about where the mill was getting its logs. But that would just extend the nonprototypicality crimes even further, so enough already.
Notice that the log train shed has track that curves sharply to the left after entering the shed from behind the lumber mill. This trackage extends into the mountain to the hidden siding tracks in the mountain. The shed is two-ended and has three log cars parked in it, extending out the far side of the shed at I and ending at a bumper. This gives the illusion of continuity from the shed's entry tracks, but in reality the tracks are unconnected. Obviously, the shed must sit perched against the side of the mountain to pull this off, since it's important that you don't see the log trains sneaking off to the hidden sidings under the mountain to use the hidden elevator.
The lumber is moved via forklift from the mill at G to mainline siding lumber cars on the mill siding which is labeled C, which ties the logging railroad into the rest of the layout. Some of the lumber is taken to a toy factory in an industrial siding off the mainline on the other side of the layout, thereby fulfilling the purpose of railroads: getting resources from point A where they are not needed to point B where they are (and someone sends someone else a bill).