Field Notes: Bentley Springs

Editor’s Note: As part of my rethinking of the blog, I decided to create a series dedicated to research. Field Notes will be a place for me to keep resources, notes, maps, and photographs of various topics. My first Field Note post is about the defunct village of Bentley Springs.

Over the next several posts, I will be discussing an imagineered project that I have enjoyed working on over the past few years when I decide to do some Model Railroading. The Northern Maryland Railway was “born” while walking along the NCR Hike and Bike trail in northern Baltimore county in Maryland and Southern York county in Pennsylvania. Bentley Springs, once upon a time a village that contained a passenger and separate freight station, as well as a 40 room hotel and water bottling plant is a short distance to the east of where we live. We usually start our trek from the parking lot and either go north or south from there. Within the area the village once occupied there are three short bridges over Beetree Run and a cut. Beetree Run, Bentley Road, and the NCR/PRR right of way all navigate their way through a rather small stream valley.

Recently Graham wanted to go “ down to the trail” to take pictures of the beaver dam and hopefully the beaver for a science project. I had been wanting to take pictures of the south end of Bentley Springs as well because the cut and first bridge area make for an excellent transition from staging to visible layout. I took a lot of pictures and we have some historical photographs to dig up as well so this first episode will most likely run over several posts.

Let’s start “Railroad South” at the cut and move maybe hundred yard or less to the first bridge. Just south of the cut is a fourth bridge.

The cut looking from railroad west to south. I do not know the curve radius, but it seems sharp considering the NCR was the Pennsylvania RR’s backdoor to Baltimore.
Standing at the edge of the cut and looking railroad north. Bentley Road comes up a short grade and crosses the former right of way directly in front of me.
Looking south towards Bentley Rd crossing and the cut.
The east side of the bridge (Bridge 31?). Beetree Run runs under the bridge. It’s current is usually faster, but the beaver made a dam not to far below the bridge.
View of the west side of the bridge. The beaver “pond” is to the left. The bridge is the third and final crossing of a Beetree Run before the cut.
The bridge number and mile marker. I will need to walk south and find mile marker 31.
The beaver dam. Recent rains had damaged it as well as leaving trash along the top. Graham assured me the water level had been higher.

Field Notes: Bentley Springs @January 2021

By H. Mathews

Barriers to Model Railroading: Applying past lessons learned

Why, you ask, are lessons learned barriers to Model Railroading? When you do not take what you have learned and apply it forward to the next project.

I will start with an example of my own. The lesson is using a mock up. How many have taken a plan, whether your own or one you found and rushed in to build the next model railroad only to discover, that isn’t going to work out like you thought it would.

Last year while sorting papers, I came across my original plan for Beckleysville. My first thought was how did I get from this simple plan to the grand designs I finished with for the O scale narrow gauge version. So I went to work over the past month and recreated the plan in a 12 inch= 1 foot environment and discovered that yes, this plan while hitting all the must haves out of the park, was still not a very good plan. The issue that was forgotten was to give the feeling of a small terminal not something so cramped in its environs that it became a switching nightmare. Well let me restate that, it became an un-prototypical switching arrangement. Freelancing is fine, but I wanted to stay with commonly accepted railroad practices from the early 20th century. A mock-up helped me to discover that the combine would always be in the way and need to be constantly moved to switch or just not sit within the platform area. Now certainly the train could have sat while the combine was unloaded and then again at departure time. This did and still does seem reasonable to me but I really wondered if that would have been “the norm” in 1914. The station siding was also very short and would make trim lengths limited to one car and the combine. Again, that may have been acceptable for the volume of freight traffic, but two cars would have made it more like a switching puzzle.

The original Beckleysville plan
Beckleysville laid out
Station area

The station area was in particular too compact even for a small narrow gauge terminal. I have two of the original C modules from the O scale version and could lay out the trackplan, if only lines and switch templates, to see how everything looked. The two modules together are a little over 8 feet (about 2 1/2 meters) in length. I feel that an additional module, making the layout about 12 feet in length, minus its staging section, a better choice.

Thankfully, overcoming a barrier in Model Railroading and applying the idea of making a mock-up instead of forging ahead and building from the plan saved another false start from occurring.

Fine for one freight car and a Combine. Not much room for more.

Barriers to Model Railroading: Applying past lessons learned @January 2021

By: H Mathews