This is a long overdue update on the Rails West layout. My layout continues to evolve. My fondness for different railroads has always been problematic from a layout planning standpoint. This over-inclusive fondness in reality leads to some creativity, variety, interest and dysfunction.
In my most recent update, I had planned to evolve from the originally- planned “ATSF in Roswell, NM in the early 1990s layout” to the “SP-DRGW merger era in the mid-to-late 1990s.” Shortly thereafter, I decided to start digitizing the slides I took in my late teens. Might have been a mistake.
Since then (for about nine months straight), I have been fixated on the era of those slides (late-1970s to the early-1980s)–all the railroads I loved were in business, lots of variety, no tagging, first generation diesels, attractive billboard paint schemes, cabooses, F units, all in all, just a richer version of railroads than I see today or before that for that matter.
That seed has grown and caused yet another evolution of the layout. I will likely be sharing more details in the future, track plan, industries and introducing my operating scheme that has led to seeing my layout more as almost a theatrical stage than a traditional layout. More on that later.
But what I wanted to share in this post is my first real operating session (of sorts) simplified as it may be. I was very happy that there were no stalls and the layout performed very nicely.
The above image shows my local coming into town. I will let the captions largely narrate the session.
Way more to come. The layout is in its infancy, but I wanted to share the first operating session.
Recently, my friend B. Smith shared with us his excellent research on the San Fernando Branch in CA. (There will be another post in future with some additional photos!) from that post, the below item caught my eye in that in 1972, Christmas trees were still being delivered by rail.
“Encino Team Track averaged 3 cars per month (0 to 11 per month)
American Jet (salvage wreaked aircraft brought in by rail
Christmas Trees (every December the team track area was leased out as a Christmas tree lot and 4 to 6 carloads of trees were brought in)
B. Smith and I swapped some e-mails on the topic to try to find some photos with very little luck, but he did find this–
Another Sign Of The Christmas Season Arrives In California
Union Pacific Delivers Christmas Trees from the Pacific Northwest
Omaha, Neb., November 17, 2006 – Christmas trees are again on their way to households in California, and Union Pacific is helping move them. The season’s first rail shipment of fresh Christmas trees arrived Wednesday afternoon in Los Angeles on board a UP train from Portland, Ore.
Over the coming days, Union Pacific expects to transport nearly 725,000 Christmas trees to California in more than 1,000 containers or over-the-road trailers. The majority of the containers are bound for Los Angeles; the remaining will ship to Lathrop in Northern California.
Historically, the railroad moved Christmas trees in boxcars that were unloaded at various locations by a wide variety of vendors. In 1988, Union Pacific began moving the trees in intermodal containers and over-the-road trailers. Since then, the railroad has transported more than 9,600 containers and trailers loaded with more than 6.5 million Christmas trees from the Pacific Northwest.
Intermodal shipping involves moving freight by rail and truck without re-packing the shipping container. An example:
- A container on an over-the-road truck chassis is loaded with Christmas trees at a tree farm.
- The loaded container is driven by truck to the rail yard in Portland and placed on a railroad flat car.
- The flat car is moved by train to an intermodal terminal in Los Angeles or Lathrop.
- The container is removed from the flat car and placed on an over-the-road truck chassis.
- The container is driven by truck to vendors in the Los Angeles or Lathrop areas.
Pretty neat that some trees may still be moving by rail.
In closing, here’s a few old school pictures of Christmas trees by rail courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.
If anyone has photos of trees being shipped by rail (especially if newer than those above), please share.
Meanwhile, a very Merry Christmas to all the readers of Rails West!
To conclude my series on bakeries, here is a little information on the structures, rolling stock, vehicles and operations.
Bakeries come in all shapes and sizes, but most of the older ones were pretty substantial brick or cinder block buildings from what I can gather. Here’s a collection of photos demonstrating the variety.
Older Rainbow Bakery in Tucson, AZ.
Here’s a more modern bakery.
Here is a collection of photos of a former Rainbo bakery in Lexington, KY with some cool interior shots in case you were very ambitious and wanted to model a realistic interior.
Here is a few photos of silos and unloading equipment.
Everything from just the tanks to suggest a larger structure off layout to an entire structure.
Now here is one of my favorite aspects of modelling a bakery operation–really neat rolling stock and vehicles.
Here’s just a couple of examples.
Both Tangent and Athearn make excellent covered hoppers for serving bakeries.
Tangent has just come out with this excellent model.
For years, Athearn has produced this nice model of the GATC 2600–
I’ve seen some nice painted models of this car as well if you want to get creative. Here’s the real car–
Here’s the model–
Here’s a small sampling of the vehicles one could model–
Stanley Houghton photos above are copyrighted and are for non-commercial use only. They are courtesy of Hanks Truck Pictures. This site is an excellent source of trucking related photos for modelling older truck operations.
Operations are normally pretty simple. The car is spotted over the unloading area and the flour is pneumatically produced to the silos. With multiple cars or bays, re-spotting may be necessary if the unloading facility has a device that requires the car to be in one spot. Some bakeries may have flexible hosing that would provide some flexibility.
The bakery in Roswell featured in Part I, would normally receive 1 to 2 cars per week. It was a small but very steady source of traffic.
If only I could figure out how to imitate the smell of baking bread…
I lived in Roswell, NM, for much of the early 1990s. One of the pleasures of early 1990 Roswell was driving by the Rainbo bakery and smelling the fresh bread being baked. Another treat for me was to check out the spur where the Santa Fe Railway brought in covered hoppers of flour.
Sadly, it is all gone now with the exception of a few relics. The green dots above show where the cars were spotted for unloading and the base upon which the silos sat that stored the flour. The flour was pneumatically carried from the train car to the silos and from the silos to the bakery. I am not sure if the remaining structure was related to the bakery. I remember to pneumatic tube that carried the flour to the bakery was pretty long and may have gone to a structure that has now been demolished.
The bakery in Roswell would normally receive 1 to 2 cars once to twice a week. It was a small, but very steady customer.
I wish I had taken more photos of the overall operation. As usual, I didn’t think I was capturing the closing days of something that had been going on for many years.
Above is an action shot I caught while the ATSF local down from Clovis heading to Carlsbad stopped in Roswell. The local generally had to switch the bakery and the Budweiser distributor and often the team track and Miller distributor. The Coors distributor and lumber yard were regular but less frequent customers. There was a smattering of irregular customers also in the area including a dairy, a Christmas ornament factory and a waste recycling facility.
If you model the mid-1990s or earlier, a bakery is worth considering for your layout. They were widespread and regular customers and often received smaller cars. You don’t even have to model the whole operation. You can just model the silos with the bakery being theoretically just off the layout just as the above photos suggest and as B. Smith did on his LCN RR.
B. Smith only modelled the silos. The bakery sits just off the layout.
His bakery also receives corn syrup by rail so there is also a tank (on the left) in his unloading area. His bakery is usually good for a couple of covered hoppers and an occasional corn syrup tank car.
In part II of this series, I will discuss a little more about modelling bakery operations and discuss rolling stock options.
In an earlier post, I shared B. Smith’s excellent coverage SP action in the San Fernando Valley in the early 1970s. In this post, we will drill down a little further into the nuts and bolts of the line’s operations again in the early 1970s with a few new photos, maps and field notes made by B. Smith as he documented the line in 1972. This will be very useful for people interested in modelling the line and give the rest of us food for thought as to how many lines operated in the 1970s and somewhat beyond.
Here’s an overview map to start (Each of the boxes will have detailed maps and field notes to follow. All the photos were taken July 20, 1972 and copyright B. Smith)–
Let’s head east to west and visit a little around the North Hollywood area to start.
The San Fernando Valley Branch as it travels up the center of Chandler Blvd. in North Hollywood. Looking east from near Laurel Canyon Blvd.
San Fernando Valley Branch passing under the Hollywood Freeway. Facing west.
OK, let’s head west on the branch over to Van Nuys in 1972.
Heading further west, we go near the Sepulveda Dam Recreational Area.
Now easing a little further west, let’s poke around the Encino area just a bit before heading over to Reseda.
Now let’s end this tour at the most western part of the branch around the Canoga Park area.
As we wrap up our visit of SP operations in the San Fernando Valley in 1972, let me leave you with a couple of overview documents.
Again, this is an amazing gold mine for anyone interested in modelling this branch in the early 1970s. The operations were very diverse and interesting. It would make a fascinating layout.
Next post will feature a detailed description of switching around Tarzana on July 12, 1972.
The Falstaff Brewing Corporation was a major American brand headquartered in Saint Louis. It started out with the Lemp Brewery in the 1830s. One account has it that the company was renamed after a character in Shakespeare named John Falstaff around 1903. It was at one time a really big brand peaking in production in the mid-1960s. Sadly, the brand disappeared off the store shelves in 2005, but not in the imagination on many former customers. Word has it that production may soon resume as a Pabst brand, who incidentally brews one of my favorite IPA-Ballantine IPA. Click here for my post on Ballantine from earlier this year.
If Pabst does bring the brand back, I hope they put some thought into the recipe the way they did with Ballantine IPA. I think they hit a home run with it.
I remember drinking Falstaff, a little under aged, with my dad in the late 1970s sitting around the barbeque pit. I liked it! It was a little distinctive.
As a prelude to its possible reintroduction, I wanted to share the great artwork Falstaff used to promote its fine beer.
Discretely flashing a little leg, always good for sales.
Ah, romance facilitated by an ice cold Falstaff or two!
What’s not to love? I strongly support equal rights for women, but I love seeing pictures of these men being comfortable in their skin–just enjoying life. I love these ads!
Freshly caught fish on the grill. Not sure if I can think of a better smell after a day on the river.
Now being practically, a life-long White Sox fan, here’s another reason for me to miss Falstaff, it was the beer partner to the White Sox in one of the most colorful era of the Sox, the 1970s.
I love this write up from the website whitesoxinteractive.com.
Today’s Chicago south side bears little resemblance to the neighborhood surrounding Old Comiskey Park in the 1970’s. Long before anyone had heard of “supply-side economics”, “downsizing”, or “the Asian economic tigers”, Chicago’s south side was a vibrant manufacturing area. Large mills like Wisconsin Steel belched smoke and paychecks to legions of south siders, game-fully employed in solid blue-collar jobs. When their shift at the plant ended, they went to the corner tap and then to 35th and Shields to continue their imbibing. The drink of choice was not white zinfandel. Every summer evening on the south side, Comiskey Park was filled with the cigarette smoke and serious drinking.
When they arrived at Comiskey they found a new crown prince to the festivities, the newly-hired tv and radio announcer, Harry Caray. Gone was the understatement of Sox legend Bob Elson. Harry was brash, opinionated, and eager to draw attention to himself. Most of all, Harry was one of the guys. He did broadcasts from Comiskey’s center field bleachers. He watched the blondes in the stands as much as the rest of us. He of course had a microphone in his hand to let the whole world know what he was thinking. There was his giant fishing net inside the booth for catching foul balls. Most famously, there was his seventh inning rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” Anyone with cable tv is familiar with a similar routine he did through the 80’s and 90’s at Wrigley Field. Many fans from coast to coast think that is what Harry always did — and of course they’re wrong. In the 70’s at Comiskey, a younger sharper Harry didn’t slur his words, and wasn’t a caricature of himself. With Nancy Faust’s organ accompaniment, Harry led a rousing and drunken chorus of fans in a way Wrigley Field’s kiddies could never duplicate — nor he. At Comiskey Park it sounded for all the world like a bar room anthem. Of course at Comiskey Park, it was a bar room anthem.
Harry had spent years in St. Louis shilling the Busch family’s #1 brand, Budweiser. Upon his arrival in Chicago in 1971, Busch’s crosstown rival, Falstaff, was all too eager to make him their spokesman. “The choicest product of the brewer’s art,” was Falstaff’s tag line. Now Harry Caray became the choicest pitch man for the shot and beer crowd who came to Comiskey.
“Ah, what I wouldn’t do right now for a plate of barbecue ribs and an ice-cold Falstaff!”
That was during the game. Each half-inning’s commercial break, Sox fans were deluged in a sea of Falstaff advertisements, too. “Falstaff — because we’re all in this together.” Other beer brands moved into Comiskey soon enough and Falstaff faded from Sox fans’ minds along with its national stature. Schlitz, Stroh’s, and yes — Budweiser, soon became the park’s official brands. None of them ever matched the advertising blitz Harry Caray and Falstaff achieved.
What a great era…Bill Veeck and Harry Caray! And the uniforms!
Those were the days. Hopefully, we can look forward to some more Falstaff days in the future. (Maybe not those uniforms though, even though I loved them at the time.)