Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Few Words About Wordless Wednesday #32

This somewhat disturbing photo (though still neat, given the cars - and that it's in color) is the only known photograph of the Wethersfield Lumber Company (other than a newspaper photo of the fire, taken at night, that shows nothing really - other than fire). The first alarms sounded Friday night, May 20, 1955 - so this photograph was probably taken the next day. The fire was still burning. You can read more about it here.

Not to diminish the tragedy, but from a prototype modeler's perspective this photo is pretty frustrating. I really want to include the lumber company in my model of Wethersfield, but other than this photo, I have no idea what it looked like. And I'd rather not just model stacks and stacks of lumber.

One helpful sort suggested I change my modeling era from October, 1947 to June, 1955 - and just have a pile of ashes and a recently-decommissioned siding. Clever but, um, no.

Until I can find some other photo, I'm going to have to take my best guess based on the footprints on the Sanborn maps. That'll be ok for now and - bonus - if somebody tells me I'm wrong, that's ok. I'll just ask them to give me some evidence that I'm wrong. Of course, a photo would suffice.

In the meantime, if you or someone you know has any photos of the area around Jordan Lane and Silas Deane Highway in Wethersfield, CT, I'd sure like to see them. As it turns out, my other Holy Grail is any photo of the Ballantine's beer distribution warehouse - which was located right across the street from Wethersfield Lumber.

Heh - it'd be so much easier if I was a model railroader rather than a railroad modeler!


  1. Aerial Survey of Connecticut 1938 Hurricane Damage Photograph # 00026 (upper left corner) shows large lumber complex on south side of Jordan between tracks and Hartford Ave. Photo could be good enough to build a reasonable model?

    Could house still standing at 2-30 Jordan at one time have been the lumber company owners dwelling, looks like it is there in the 38 photo.

    What street shows in the fire photo?


  2. HO.LY.COW!! You just sent me down a huge/deep rabbit hole - what a treasure trove of photographic jewels in that 1938 survey. I can't believe I haven't come across that before! I of course knew about the 1934 survey (and the other aerial surveys) but they all tend to be shots taken straight down, and helpful only for footprints - not elevations or perspective. But these hurricane damage photos are priceless! Not *quite* as clear as you zoom in, but certainly good enough to get a reasonable idea of what was there. And even better than Wethersfield Lumber is Valley Coal! Shows a LOT there, and at a better resolution.

    Only problem is - the photos make it crystal clear how flat this whole area is. At the risk of causing major eye-rolling among my workcrew, I'm seriously considering ripping out the cardboard webbing/plastercloth I've done in Wethersfield and lower it to make it much flatter. Just need to figure out what to do about the bottom edge of the backdrop being too high...

    Thanks VERY much for pointing me toward these photos - and "thanks" for causing me to rethink my scenery base :^)

    PS: the street that shows in the photo is the Silas Deane Hwy. You're looking east into the lumber yard. The street you call Hartford Ave is same as Silas Deane Hwy.

    PPS: yes, this is "good enough to build a reasonable model" - and I already have an idea of a kit that will come very close!

    1. Hartford Avenue and Silas Deane Highway are roughly parallel, with Hartford Avenue on the east side of the tracks and Silas Deane on the west side, with the lumber yard between Silas Deane and the tracks. The fire pic shows the Silas Deane, in the evening of May 20, 1955, before the highway was closed to traffic. I saw that fire, and remember it was still light. The heat affected the high voltage lines overhead, and later blacked out part of Wethersfield. The Webb Theater went dark and most of the patrons came over to watch the fire. I remember Ballantine well, and will search for pix.

    2. Ah yes - the previous commenter was referring to "Hartford Ave" and I was just saying that the street he referred to as Hartford Ave was in fact the Silas Deane. That must've been quite a sight for you so see, for sure. Any photos you might have of either the lumber yard buildings or Ballantines - no matter HOW inocuous you think they might be - would be VERY helpful - thanks for checking! And thanks for stopping by the blog and commenting! (I'm trying to get you an answer to your other comment regarding the mogul in the snow...)

  3. Photo 00025 has a better photo of Valley Coal. Disregard what I said about the house at 2-30 Jordan, I see it is on the East side of the tracks and belonged to the orchard located there.

    A 1962 aerial shows what looks like a gas station across the road on Silas Dean which explains the "Atlantic" sign in front of that cool convertible in the fire photo.

    Kit? Think scratch build!

    Glad that photos were a help, gave me something to do while drinking my morning tea.