Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Layout Tour - Rocky Hill, Dividend, Cromwell

(This is the 2nd part of the tour - Part 1 is here)

Rocky Hill is the next town south from Wethersfield.  As you 'round the curve heading southbound, this is what you would have seen Back In The Day:

Rocky Hill looking south - CT river to the left, freight house at center, station past that in the distance.
Here's what you see as you 'round the curve on my layout:

No buildings yet, but the cars are spotted where the freight house will be.  The station will be just beyond.
Here's the Sanborn map:

Rocky Hill - North is to the right.
Rocky Hill was another place where I'd made the mistake of building my trackwork based on the Sanborn Map.  Like all of these maps, this one dated from the 1920s - when there was still passenger service.  Consequently, I had a nice long passing siding.  But John Wallace recalled a crossover in the middle of the siding that allowed for bulk track service from the southwest part of the siding, and house track service from the northeast part of the siding.  Yes, as you may have guessed, that meant that the "main" actually was always routed through the crossover - northwest to southeast.  So, out came the track, in went two more Micro-Engineering turnouts.  But no regrets - it became evident pretty quickly that operations would work much more prototypically with the more prototypical arrangement (well, duh!)

Foreground boxcars on house track, crossover just beyond, Dividend in distance (those cars spotted at Billings & Spencer)
Next operations area south is a place called "Dividend."  Actually part of Rocky Hill, this area was the location of the largest customer on the line - Hartford Rayon.  Here's the Sanborn map, but as you'll see, it wasn't really all that helpful:

Dividend - north to the right.  Hartford Rayon main plant to the south of Belamose Ave.  Old Billings & Spencer building (used as rayon warehouse in 1947) to the north of Belamose Ave.  Switchback not shown on this early map.

Dividend, looking southwest.  Cars are on the old Billings & Spencer tail track.  You can see the switchback in the distance.
As you can see, if I followed the circa 1924 Sanborn map, my track layout would be all wrong for 1947.  John described the switchback operations at Dividend in his Shoreliner article and confirmed this layout when he saw it in person.  During WW2, there was a bulk oil distributor further north on the tailtrack.  But that business went back to barges after the war.  To the left (south) end, you see the "tank" track curving off to the southeast.  On the prototype, there was another track there and you can (barely?) see that I have a loose turnout placed there to see if I can fit it in.
Overview of Dividend/Rocky Hill looking north
Next stop south of Dividend/Rocky Hill is the small hamlet of Cromwell.  Here's what it looks like on the Sanborn:

Station in center - note Main Street (aka Middlesex Turnpike).  Coal Co. not shown, but would be at end of siding.
And here's what it looks like on the layout:

Great (and lucky) photo mockup of Main Street crossing looking north, and in my era!  Siding on the left - station will be between siding and mainline.
There's not much to Cromwell - just a siding/house track and Lee & Sons Coal Co. will be at the end of the siding.  The coolest thing will be if I can replicate Main Street fairly faithfully based on that great photo - especially the diner with the octagon windows!

Lastly (for now anyway), here's another shot of Cromwell showing the siding and the track in the background going through the backdrop.  See the "inset" on the trackplan for the track arrangement back there, but suffice it to say that there are two tracks - the closer one is the line from "Hartford" staging (i.e. Middletown) to Wethersfield.  The further line next to the wall goes from Middletown to East Berlin (not yet modeled).  If you saw yesterday's post on Wethersfield, the train you see here is the same one that was heading "northbound under the Rt. 15 overpass."

All in all, I like how the Rocky Hill/Dividend/Cromwell section came out.  I didn't have to make any significant compromises, other than compressing the linear run.  But even on the prototype, these towns are pretty close together.  And, thankfully, the prototype operations are such that you don't end up having too much - or usually any - of the rest of your train in a different town than your loco when you're switching.  With the backdrop dividing the scenes so effectively, you still get a real sense of "going somewhere" when you're operating.  Given my space limitations, that's pretty much the best I could hope for.

So we've made it so far from Wethersfield to Cromwell.  Next stop, Middletown....


  1. I'm really, really enjoying this series - and looking forward to future instalments. Thanks Chris!

    1. Thanks for the encouragement Trevor! I really, really appreciate your taking the time to leave a comment - I'm beginning to think you're the only one following here regularly %^) But at least I'm in great company!

  2. Chris,
    Fear not, I'm following - all the way from "down under". I concur with Trevor - I am really enjoying the "Layout Tour" series, and am learning more about the New Haven with every post! Thank you!

    1. Hi Anthony and thanks for checking in! VERY cool to know this blog has reached so far around the world - very cool indeed! I'm glad you're enjoying the series, which I picked up again this morning. Thanks for following along!