Thursday, September 6, 2018

A Day on PDX-2 aka "The Haddam Local" - New London to Deep River

While this blog is dedicated primarily to The Valley Local which operated from Hartford south to East Haddam (or East Berlin, depending on the day), I'm also lucky enough to be able to model the other local freights that operated in the area. While the Valley Local covered the north end of the New Haven RR's Connecticut Valley Line, during my modeling era (Autumn, 1948) The Haddam Local (aka PDX-2 or the "westbound Shore Line local") took care of the south end, operating from Fort Yard in New London to Cedar Hill Yard in New Haven. On its way, it branches off at Saybrook Junction and goes up the Valley Line as far north as East Haddam, returning to Saybrook before proceeding to Cedar Hill.

I was a little shorthanded during my last ops session, so I ended up annulling PDX-2 figuring I'd just run it myself another day. Well, with another ops session looming, it was high time to finally finish the previous session. One of life's ironies is that layout hosts don't typically get to operate their own layouts, so this was a rare treat - and a chance to see how my layout operates from a crew's perspective for a change.

And since I was alone, I could take my time to take some photos along the way! So, come along as we run the Haddam Local up the south end of the Valley Line. You'll be able to railfan a bit, and also get a glimpse of how I operate my layout. We'll start off by signing the crew register and picking up our paperwork & train at Fort Yard, New London. . .

So that's what's going on here...
Here's all the paperwork laid out:

I'm trying to operate my layout as close to the prototype as possible, so I don't use car cards and, unfortunately, I don't (yet) have any waybills. So my car forwarding consists of switchlists and car transfer forms (admittedly contrived, while I wait for waybills).  The two documents on the left are a locomotive function-key list for the engineer, and a "Conductor's Notes" card providing tips to the conductor for operating the train efficiently. Train movement is governed by a clearance card and train orders, copied from prototype NHRR documents.

Once you've reviewed the paperwork, the last step is to check your train against your initial switchlist (also known as a "Wheel Report").

This document lists all the cars in your train at your originating terminal and tells you where they're to be delivered. Here, we have 7 cars going up the Valley Line. While there are sometimes cars destined for Old Saybrook, I don't model any other Shoreline towns.

You can leave Fort Yard once you get permission from the dispatcher. Your journey from New London to the east end of Old Saybrook consists of leaving the yard through #21 switch and entering track 5 in Saybrook through #24 switch.

Once you arrive in Saybrook proper, let the tower operator know you're clear of the main (so he can realign the #24 switch), and check the box for any additional paperwork/work to do.

Since Saybrook is an order station, be sure and sign the Train Register noting your arrival, then pick up any paperwork addressed to you. In this case, there's a Car Transfer Form (the switchlist is addressed to PDX-1, so leave it in the box).

The CTF tells you about the four cars sitting on the siding which were left for you by PDX-1 (the eastbound Shoreline local). You're to pick up these cars and deliver them to consignees in Essex.

We've left our train in the clear on track 5 and used track 7 to run-around and couple onto the cars sitting on the siding (an extension of track 5). Then it's an easy matter of backing these cars onto our train and heading up the branch - once you get your orders from the Saybrook agent.

At that point, having given you the legal authority to go up the branch, the agent/tower operator will, um, give you the physical ability to go up the branch - by installing the liftout between the Saybrook wye and Essex.

Then you get to whistle off and head up to Essex!

Crossing the old Middlesex Turnpike on the east leg of the Saybrook wye.
Crossing Mill Rock Road at the north end of the wye.

Once you arrive in Essex, if you've reviewed the track arrangement (located on the fascia) you know that all the sidings here are facing-point northbound and if you've reviewed your Conductor's Notes you know that the best move at this point is to leave any Essex-bound cars here and continue north.

Here PDX-2 is leaving 7 cars destined for Essex consignees on the passing track (3 cars from Fort Yard & the 4 that were picked up in Saybrook). After leaving these cars here to deal with on the return trip, we continue north to Deep River.

While in the caboose between Essex and Deep River, you look at your notes (or "talk to the Old Head conductor" in the cupola) and learn that all the sidings in Deep River are also facing point northbound.

So, being a quick-learner, you direct your engineer to continue through Deep River without stopping and proceed north to East Haddam.

It takes a bit of time to get to the north end of the Haddam Local's operating authority, so we'll rejoin PDX-2 when it arrives in East Haddam. Until next time post . . .
For more information on operations, be sure to check out the website at
and clicking on the "Operations" link on the left side of the homepage.


  1. Very timely post...If I get the PDX-2 job Saturday.

    1. Don't worry - you will >:^) (hope this preview doesn't make it TOO easy for you....)

  2. Hi Chris ... Do you have information relating to the prototype Fort Yard (track map, nearby industries)? Thanks!

    1. Hi Michael and thanks for stopping by! Unfortunately, I don't. My "Fort Yard" is just staging. However, you should definitely ask your question on the NHRHTA forum at Somebody there may have it!