Let me just say first, this is probably the hardest scenario i've ever played in my entire life. It took many, many pain-staking tries for gold, but I'm pleased to announce, I FINALLY DID IT
. As for my settings, I had to deliver to Webster, Burlington, Peoria and Nikita Port. I managed to hit gold with 6 years to go. Let me share my experience (and what I did on this gold try).
FIrst, meeting all other gold requirements was not the problem. The major problem and hardest part of this scenario, is hitting the lifetime profits gold.
Now, to start out, probably the most important thing is taking a look at your map before anything. It's good to find at least two cities within the same area that have a decent amount of cargo already ready to go. Generally this proved to be Corning --> Clarinda, Oscela, or Diagnol. Algona also tends to have high stakes. I would not go with Des Moines or Peoria starting out, as demand in my experience started somewhat slow and that will kill you in this scenario. You basically just have to get a good layout of the map and pick a starting point with decent supply/demand going until you can expand. Corning tends to be the best spot due to it's easy supply of Ore, Rock, Iron and Logs. 3 of which you'll need to upgrade your track. Also, I would /HIGHLY/ suggest that if you get a good starting map with cargo's, that you save it /before/ you build anything. THat way if one strategy doesn't work, you can try a couple more, along with different starting points.
So, now, onto how I got the gold. The good stuff. I actually decided to try a different approach this time, taking advantage of the fact that you do not have to lay connected track. Up until this point, I had generally started in Corning (and tried Algona a couple of times) and then just expand out from there. This time I decided to try a regional approach, as this map had cargo 'build ups' in each region. So I started Corning to Clarinda, then Algona to Webster, then Kewanee to Peoria, then Dodgeville to Plateville.
Those were my basic region setups, then based on cargo build ups I expanded out from there, going one city at a time in each region that was ready for service and could be profitable. There are also a couple of opportunities for early industry, though slim. You may look at putting a brewery in Dodgeville if one isn't there, as it has an early supply of grain. Do /NOT/ overdo it though. Generally, Industry early in this scenario does /not/ help you. Also, to note on trains, when I connected one set of regiona track to another, I only began really running trains from the main city hub of that region to the other cities in the opposing region and then 1 train from every city in the region to the warehouse district that was part of the goals.
Iron Goal: The best way i've found to do this is simply setup a train that goes from Corning ----> Devenport Warehouse, carrying 8 cars of iron both ways. This way Corning stays supplied in order to supply Davenport.
With 10 years to go, I was finally setting on some cash and had at this point finally gotten all of my rail connected and for the most part, my trains upgraded. I tried something different this time. Instead of upgrading to all Red Devils, I upgraded 80% of my fleet to the one right above the QJ for 266k. Passenger trains were on the Mallard, and a few on the Red Devil. At this point, I simply began looking for industries to buy up and began doing that. I was setting on about 25 Mil cash initially. I also began setting up some extra trains from high cargoload cities with overflow, to other cities that wanted stuff.
From that point on, it was simply a matter of waiting. So, there are other approaches to this scenario I am sure. I have found that, in my case, and the map I got, doing the regional setup worked out best and then expand within regional, and then connect the regions once they were built up with industry buying basically saved until the last 10 years of the game. I wish everyone luck in this and I must say to Wherrick, that was a phenomal scenario. I salute you.
Aslo, this is my first post :D I hope this helps some other people out if they ever play this scenario.