I like to play on RB without patents. This gives extra challenge especially on a map such as this where distances are long and resources scarce. I managed to get through the first era starting from Flagstaff when I last visited the map, but failed the net worth and thought that a patent was necessary to complete 1st era from Ash Fork. Will repeat that Barstow start doesn't allow a legitimate, money-making connection above Mogul level even with cheapest track, so leaving that one alone.
On this re-visit, focused on Ash Fork start. Key was a more efficient setup using a Y-shaped track that would accommodate two trains, setup so they would wait/pass just below the fork. See 1st image. This was later optimized of course.
Built to Kingman as soon as possible, August 1890, and earned a bit extra from that to help finance final push to Needles, just in time to complete the first era, with a shortcut straight over the mountain range.
As second era started, continued saving to push to Phoenix. Arrived May 1902. Invested in developing the area for a few years, forgot about grain farm in southeast. Connected to Barstow in May 1909. Immediately began passenger hauls. Running 6 trains once enough passing places were built, at near-profitable thanks to routing shown in 2nd image. This may have been the intent all along, but it went over my head on previous attempts. Had to add a 7th train at the end for the final hauls before the time limit was up.
While the haulage was ticking away, after track improvements, passing tracks and switching to a dedicated Flagstaff-Ash Fork pattern with 2 trains, started producing Gold in 1924. For demand built a Bank in Ash Fork. Then all earnings went towards 2nd era task completion.
Plan for 3rd era was a Hotel in Needles for main express route to/from Las Vegas, Furniture Plants in Clarksdale and Ash Fork, Steel Mill in Skull Valley, Furniture Plant in Phoenix, all to chase net worth before starting Barstow-Las Vegas hauls in 1944, two trains.
Rest should be obvious from the attached saved game. Trick to grow Parker was to run there from Glendale. One train. At the same time, Phoenix to Grand Canyon. Two trains. In the final years, one of these was diverted to run passengers up to Skull Valley after it had grown.
Used less track than previous efforts, see 3rd image, benefit was that I ran routes already setup to support multiple trains. Gold and Weapons took a longer route to get to Las Vegas, but net worth only just reached $40M, my thought was that spending more on track would have dropped net worth, and probably in net taken longer. Take a look at the saved game for the details on how passing tracks, junctions, and crossovers were setup.
Conclusion: This map looks awesome. All the effort of play testing shows. Meager resources and juicy task kept the game alive economically throughout the eras when played in this way. A rare thing, normally map designers only manage to keep the first era tight when going for challenge. Thanks Karsten!