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!



Keep it simple Copper City on the C&RGS

The C&RGS? Yes the very fictional Colorado and Rio Grande Southern RR located southwestern Colorado, New Mexico, and part of Arizona. A railroad that has an interesting traffic base of livestock traffic, hard rock mining, agriculture, and serving the communities it runs through. I do not have a plan of the railroad laid out on a map of the United States though. My interest is the railroad’s branch into the San Juan area of Colorado. The branch originates in the very fictional town of Navajo Springs and travels roughly north-northeast about 100 miles over several mountain ranges to the terminal at Copper City. I am not planning on modeling all of the yard, roundhouse or mining area of Copper City, it will take up too much room. So what am I modeling, the station area, and only the station area at this time.

I have yet to finish a model railroad in the last several attempts, they were just too big in scope and amount of time to build. Copper City is going to be my first ever attempt at On3. Why On3, well not because I have a ton of On3 equipment. However I do have the central item to my railroad, a station, plenty of ties, rail, spikes and an engine or two. Passenger cars are indeed missing at this time. Fear not, part of the fun of building “Copper City Station” is to build the passenger cars I want. To learn about how passenger cars were built in the early 20th century and stayed in use until the 1940s and 1950s!

Why the change yet again? Excellent question. While working on my 12″=1ft outdoor projects this summer, found time to read some blogs about model railroading late in the evening. Helped keep my mind off of scratching my poison ivy! Mike Cougill’s blog has been a very thought-provoking series of posts. Highly recommend reading his posts.Trevor Marshall’s journey of building the CN’s Port Rowan branch in S scale has been a great glimpse into a simple model to operate as well as build. More recently, through a link in Trevor’s blog, had a chance to read Lance Mindheim’s blog. Lance’s September 30th post, “How to play with trains” was very interesting and finally got me started on designing a small, functioning model railroad that is the C&RGS’s Copper City passenger station and freight house.

I sat down and worked on  an operating session based on the time that I had to actually operate a model railroad. Have always like the D&RGW’s Chili line mixed and envisioned a similar mixed train on my Copper City branch line. Why it would be nice to leave from Navajo Springs, climb over two mountain ranges, cross numerous trestles, and go through a loop to gain elevation, there is not the space or the time to build such a layout. What I have time for though is to have the mixed arrive at Copper City station, uncouple the engine and freight cars (if any) and place the freight cars into a fiddle yard. If there is a car or two for the fright house or team track to switch them. It takes time to switch cars! The next operating session will be the opposite. Switching the order of the RPO/ baggage and coach, then backing the engine and freight cars (once again if any) to the station, coupling up and waiting for departure time (and pumping up air) then departing. Does not sound like much, but based on the time I have right now for model railroading, it is probably all the time I have. My Sn3 version of the Copper City branch will have to wait until the children are older, my basement and its model railroad room are complete, and more time is available for modeling.