Sunday, September 8, 2019

Weekend Fun: NHRHTA Reunion, Ops Session, Caboose Ride

Over the past few days, I took a break from my scenery progress to prepare a presentation for the Annual NHRHTA Reunion, and set up for an operating session. As a bonus - I capped off the weekend with a ride along the real Valley Line down to Saybrook from Essex, and I did it in style: in the cupola of a caboose(!)

Unfortunately, I don't have any photos of the Reunion, but I did remember to shoot the ops session. Here's RonP 'fanning his train (PDX-2) while his partner JimF (just off to the right) checks the paperwork. ChrisZ is holding down the right-hand seat of PDX-1.
TomD assembles the eastbound trains departing Cedar Hill Yard, while in the far distance 2 Bills (BillC & BillL) operated the Airline Local in Somerset.
Our 3rd(!) Bill of the session - BillS - worked the Saybrook Tower and performed Dispatcher duties. I thinks his expression proves he was definitely the right choice for this particular job.
I've been trying to get PaulC3 & JohnS over here for at least a couple years, but this day the planets aligned and I assigned them to the flagship of the layout - The Valley Local. Here they are coming southbound into Rocky Hill.

ChrisZ having fun at his first ever operating session! Or he could be smiling since it's his birthday (which I discovered much later). It's really cool not only that he chose the Valley Line as his first session, but that he wanted to spend part of his birthday with us. Very cool indeed!
Since we had a full crew, I was able to float around a bit, answering questions and such. But mostly, I got to sit in the "bleacher seats" (the basement stairs) and just enjoy watching the trains go by through Saybrook Junction.
After the session, we all adjourned over to Pizza Works - which, appropriately, is not only located within the old Old Saybrook freight house along the busy Shoreline/NEC, but also has a couple of operating model railroads upstairs. It provided the perfect ending to a fun, but pretty exhausting day.

I was able to talk JimF into staying over to save a long, late night drive back to New Hampshire, and after a nice long sleep we had breakfast at the local diner and then decided to head over to the real Valley Railroad to catch the Saybrook Special.

The first weekend of every month during the main operating season, the train backs south from Essex to just north of the wye in Old Saybrook. Here's the train sitting at the Essex Station waiting to depart.

Not only is the southbound trip relatively "rare mileage" for the train, but the Special also includes this ex-PRR N-5 caboose which we were able to ride for the trip down and back.

As often as I've seen the Saybrook Special from the ground (it literally passes right over my street and through my backyard), I've never ridden it as a passenger (I have, however, fired it). And the last time I was in this caboose was Railfan Day 1986(!)

Here's the End of the Line for the present-day Valley Railroad - Milepost 0, just north of Mill Rock Road in Old Saybrook. Amtrak owns the wye.
 Though I shot this video on a different day, it gives you an idea of what the Special looks like from the ground, northbound at Connolly Drive, Old Saybrook.

And here's Connally Drive not from the ground, but from the cupola of the caboose!
My buddy JimF - who doesn't seem like he's having a good time at all. %^)

Speaking of cabooses, I remembered to get a shot of the recently-restored New Haven NE-5 caboose on the way back. The C-540 was for many years an office at Landon Lumber Co in Madison, CT. But Landon graciously donated it to the Friends of the Valley Railroad who did an absolutely amazing job of restoring it to its 1950s appearance.
One last shot from the cupola as we entered the Essex Station area.
What a great way to cap off a wonderful weekend. But it was a little bittersweet since our friends Mike & Mel couldn't join us for the weekend as originally planned. Mike was involved in an accident a few weeks ago and is still recovering. Hopefully they'll be able to join us again very soon - and now that we've reconnoitered the Special, I expect we'll all be on the caboose next year!

Having completed its run south to Saybrook, here's the 11 am train departing Essex northbound.

Booty from the 2019 NHRHTA Reunion


  1. It was just horrible riding in the caboose. ;-).

    Thanks for a hosting a great ops session again.

  2. The ops session was amazing and the layout is beautiful. Thank you again.