Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Crew Call - August 25, 1947

A big - if not the biggest - reason to be a prototype modeler, IMO, is to create the closest thing you can to a time machine. All the historical research, all the modeling skills, and all the other work involved in building a prototype layout all goes toward creating a miniature version of a particular slice of space and time and to convey, as much as possible, what it was like to live & work on the railroad during that time, and in that place.

One of the sometimes-overlooked components of conveying that sense for your operating crews is the Crew Call. I first introduced my approach a couple years ago, developed primarily from an idea I saw on another friend's layout. And since I have an operating session coming up, I thought it'd be fun to share the call for that session.
To: Operating Crews, Lower Connecticut River Valley Region, NHRR
Providence Division Extra #1 (PDX-1, Shore Line Local)
Providence Division Extra #2 (PDX-2, Haddam Local)
Hartford Division Extra #7 (HDX-7, Valley Local)
Hartford Division Extra #12 (HDX-12, Air Line Local)

From: Superintendent of Operations

RE: Detail of Operations - August 25, 1947

To Whom It May Concern:

You will be working on one of four local freight extras tomorrow, August 25, 1947. By way of orientation, the following is a description of what's going on in the world during your time on the railroad that day:

  • August 25, 1947 is a Monday and Harry Truman is the president. The local forecast is for fog in the morning with temperatures starting around 70 degrees. But it'll be hot - especially for steam locomotive crews - since the high will be in the low 90s.
  • Phil Harris' "Smoke Smoke Smoke (that cigarette)" is the #1 song in the country, but steam locomotive firemen should be mindful of producing too much smoke, especially in Middletown.
  • The average cost of a new house is $6,600, gas is only 15c per gallon, and it'll cost you about $1,300 for a new car. But keep in mind that you're probably making less than $3,000 per year - and that's on a railroader's pay.
  • The Boston Braves hit 1 million in attendance for the first time last week.
  • The movie "Miracle on 34th Street" premiered just a couple of months ago.
  • On this day two years ago - and only 10 days after the end of WWII, the Chinese Communists killed U.S. intelligence officer John Birch, who became the first victim of the Cold War. Tensions with the USSR and fear of communism are rising.
  • Later on this day, Marion Carl, US Navy test pilot, will set a world speed record of 651 mph in a D-558-I at Muroc Field (later Edwards AFB), Ca.

As usual, you can expect to receive your paperwork (Clearance Card, Orders, and Wheel Report) when you report for duty tomorrow, but here's a brief description of what you can expect when you arrive:

  • PDX-1 (The Shoreline Local) will have DEY-1b (HH660) #0924 for power and will depart Cedar Hill for Old Saybrook with 8 cars for local industries and to pass to PDX-2 (The Haddam Local) for up-river consignees. 
  • PDX-2 (The Haddam Local) will have DEY-5 (S-2) #0615 for power and will depart New London for Old Saybrook with 9 cars for the towns of Essex and Deep River. It will also accept cars from PDX-1 in Old Saybrook.
  • HDX-7 (The Valley Local) will have K-1 (2-6-0) #278 for power and will depart Hartford for Middletown with 12 cars for down-river consignees. Since it's Monday, this train may leave cars destined for East Haddam in Middletown for movement the next day.
  • HDX-12 (The Air Line Local) will have DERS-1b (RS-1) #0669 for power and will depart Cedar Hill for Middletown with 8 cars for local industries and interchange with HDX-7.

Of course, the crews of each of these trains will report to the agent of each town on their route for any additional car movements which may be required. Also, be sure to review the latest Bulletin Order and sign the Employee Register when you arrive, or else you may forfeit your pay for the day.

C.R. Adams
I think little bits of historical information like this really add to the flavor of the operating experience and make the whole evening a bit richer. If I'm doing my hosting job right, my operators should feel like they've stepped back in time and are really working on the New Haven Railroad in the lower Connecticut River Valley in 1947. If you have any additional tips or suggestions that you've found enhance operations even further - or create a better time machine - I hope you'll let us know.

Now, I just have to make sure the layout is all ready for the show . . .


  1. Chris,

    Just this post is a time machine. If I didn't live so far away I would apply for employment.


    1. Hi George and thanks for the compliment! If you're ever in the neighborhood, let me know. I'd be happy to do my best to take you back to do some railroading in the late 1940s...