Friday, July 27, 2018

Friday Fun: Air Line in East Wallingford - Then & Now

While I focus on the New Haven's Valley Line along the Connecticut River, the Air Line - which intersects the Valley at Middletown, CT - figures fairly prominently as well. I don't model the Air Line as faithfully as the Valley (I've only modeled two fictional towns), but it's pretty close operationally in that the Air Line local provides the New Haven (Cedar Hill Yard) to Middletown traffic and swapping (interchange) with the Valley Local.

The Air Line itself, as the original & fastest route between New York and Boston until superceded in the late 19th century, is itself very interesting and modelgenic. Alas! - you can't model everything, but that doesn't mean you have to ignore the attraction of other lines.

Case in point: East Wallingford, CT. Typical of much of the traffic along the Air Line (and one of the reasons it assumed secondary status after the fast passenger trains left) is this little wayside local industry:
New Haven Local Freight (Air Line Local) at East Wallingford, looking southwest. Dick Otto collection
See what I mean? Isn't that a scene that just begs to be modeled? A couple of RS-3s, a local coal silo, and the boxcar is probably destined for the bulk track. This being farming country (in fact, if you panned left you'd see a major farm at trackside), my guess is that the boxcar either has feed, fertilizer or some other farm supplies. Since it looks empty, maybe it's being spotted there for loading. The Air Line main is at the far left, with the siding obvious in the weeds. The old station is in the far background, across the road. It looks like it's already been raised up on its new foundation (as it remains today).

And this here's a shot I took of the same location yesterday morning, looking back toward where the photographer of the photo above stood those many years ago:

East Wallingford, July 26, 2018, looking northeast. Chris Adams photo.
Different era, for sure, and not quire as "railroad-evocative" - but that's in the eye of the beholder (naturally, I prefer the older, more railroady look of 70+ yrs ago). As you can see, East Wallingford retains its modelgenic quality, but now for a modern-era modeler. Bulk track appears to be gone, as the covered hoppers are sitting on the old siding, now truncated at the road. But there's still a farm here - and farms in the surrounding area - so it's no surprise that feed of some sort(?) is being unloaded here for trucks to distribute around the area. This entire scene would make a quick and easy - not to mention operationally interesting - layout design element. And with the crossbucks, signal cabinet, and modern day conveyor, there's still enough "railroady" details to please the eye and scratch the model railroad itch.

Thanks to Dick Otto for unearthing and sharing the old photo. And thanks to anybody that saw me taking this picture for not calling the cops on me.

Hope you found this little "then & now" comparison inspirational - and, if so, I hope you'll let me know in the comments. Bonus if you share some of your own "then & now" inspirations!

Happy Friday & here's hoping you can get to some modeling this weekend!


  1. Chris,
    Please tell us that you're going to include this scene somewhere on your Airline section!
    Yes, this "begs to be modeled". Looking forward to the development of this project!

    1. Thanks for the encouragement Tim! I actually don't really have a place for this; however, that won't keep me from maybe making a diorama or something - for "practice" :^)