Beckleysville: The Sources of inspiration

It has been a hectic few weeks, and not much time for modeling with so many other activities going on recently. A fine illustration of why one should consider what is an achievable and sustainable model railroad to plan and build.

Beckleysville is a imagineered layout. However, it does draw its inspiration from many sources. Most model railroaders will immediately jump to what prototype railroads, but there is more than the railroad being modeled. The 30 inch gauge Maryland Central built the branch that ultimately ended in Beckleysville for a reason. If one looks at a county map of Baltimore County, you will discover Beckleysville road and an upper Beckleysville road. These roads once connected the farming village of Freeland in northern Baltimore county with the small town of Hampstead in north eastern Carroll County. Between them the area was once very rural and dotted with small family farms. The terrain is hilly, more wooded now than in 1914, and has small runs ( local name for creek) at the bottom of each little valley. Most homes had a fieldstone foundation, with the first and second stories with exterior brick walls. Barns were usually bank barns, some large, some barns very small and very peculiar in their construction. All the barns had fieldstone foundations are the large ones were timberframed.

Beckleysville has several interesting industries. The granary building is of similar construction, even though in reality it is across the street from Robert Fulton’s birthplace in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania. A fieldstone foundation and a wooden first floor. The tobacco warehouse is located right next to it and has a similar fieldstone foundation with  —– walls. Both of these buildings were served by one spur along the 3 foot gauge Lancaster, Oxford, and Southern.

McClure’s store follows the same pattern. It is an actually building in the railroad town of Freeland along the old NCR/PRR/PC line from York to Baltimore. The station, of wood construction, lifted right from the Ma and Pa in Whiteford. The small creamery is another industry found along the LO&S or NYO&W.

The buildings served by, or operated by the railroad are small, of similar construction, and fit the construction of the rural area I wish to portray. My section house is a Ma and Pa prototype of wood construction. It is small and will not overpower the small yard area in Beckleysville.

Now on to what everyone has been waiting for, the prototype railroads. Three local, the Lancaster, Oxford, and Southern, the Ma and Pa, and the Stewartstown RR. One more is the northern division of the New. York, Ontario, and Western. Why these? Due to the meandering routes, rural farm communities they served, and how they where operated. The LO&S, probably not a very popular prototype for many due to its 3 ft gauge, small motive power, and very short life, is a perfect prototype example. I highly recommend finding and reading “Little, Old, and Slow” by Benjamin F.G. Kline to learn more about this small farmer’s railroad. The Northern Maryland’s corporate history would look quite similar to the LO&S, except the the Northern Maryland survived a few more years before being abandoned.

Other interesting sources included Jerold Apps “Horse Drawn Days: A Century of Farming with Horses”. Mr Apps is from the upper Midwest, but his memories are similar to what one could have found in the village of Beckleysville in May 1914. The online photograph collection of the Baltimore County public library was very useful as well.

To make a believable imagineered railroad, one needs to take the time to study what the story one is trying to tell. How do the buildings, both construction, and size help to tell the story. Besides using the railroad, how did people travel. In my story, horseback or carriages. Few cars or trucks are in use in my story of a small rural farming community in May 1914. The industries, for the most part, require few car movements. The creamery and station get the most business. This fact tells us a lot about our train. No twenty-five car long mixed train. Maybe a boxcar, but most days, a milk car and a combine will be the cars behind the locomotive. Sounds boring? Sounds like enough work for me on my schedule!