Sunday, December 30, 2012

Six Month Update!

Its been quite a while since I have posted anything here, but that does not mean the project has stalled!   Here are some snaps of work completed in the last few months: some historical, some modeling.

1. Coal Shack
This humble structure is my first model structure in 1:24!  It is made from a bit of scrap 4x6 with a little rectangle of roofing tin atop.  The battens are split popsicle-type craft sticks, the door is a bit of cedar shingle, and the chimney was fashioned from the cap of an ink pen.  Its certainly not going to win any model competitions, but it looks awesome from 10 feet! 

2. Engine Shop and Service Pit
A little progress was made on the engine shop in that I painted a gray rectangle around the ends of Track 6 and 7 the length of the longest loco.   Then I cut a cross-shaped service pit under the rails that more or less matched what is depicted on the 1927 track plans.  To try and hide the plywood cross section I painted the insides red, marked a brick pattern with a pencil, then washed the whole thing in black. At some point I'd like to add the rest of the pit below, but this will be somewhat more complicated than it sounds since the plywood that makes the yard has to be able to slide off the supporting benchwork to allow access to the washer and dryer plumbing underneath.  As such, the rest of the pit will have to be attached to the benchwork.

3. Actual TFRR Footage Discovered!
One thrilling development over the last few months was getting a DVD from a friend with an hour long promotional piece for "The Great Locomotive Chase" that aired on "Wide World of Disney" in the 1950's.  I carefully snipped out the everything but trackside and other location photography that showed the real life Tallulah Falls Railroad and posted the results on YouTube. Only a few beats show actual TFRR trains rolling (as compared to the antiques locos and cars used in the Civil War-era movie), but this is the only footage I have ever seen.   Here are the three videos:

Part 1: Intro to the Tallulah Falls Railroad

Part 2: Production and "Behind the Scenes" Footage

Part 3: Footage from the Feature Film
It is my dream that Mr. Disney's scouts shot footage of the entire railroad and that this footage will someday be exhumed from the Disney vaults and shared with the world in some fashion or another. 

4. Map/Photo Composite: Tallulah Lodge Depot
If the YouTube videos were not enough copyright infringement for one person, I also used the 1927 track plans and Google's satellite view to figure out where exactly the tracks ran between mileposts 19 and 20, which included the Tallulah Lodge depot and a Georgia Power spur line that connected the TFRR with the top of the incline railway that is still in service.  Eventually I'd like to complete similar works for the whole line, though if this first one was anything to go by, its going to take many hours to make it happen.  Here is the composite, as well as an old photo of stately Tallulah Lodge.

5.  Depot Workshop Constructed
Also extremely exciting has been construction of little 12x20 workshop in the backyard that is distinctly railroad flavored.   Once completed, this beautiful building will become HQ for my modeling activities.  Boundless props must be paid to the craftsmen leading this project, Mr. Bennett and his brother, who have given us a one-of-a-kind building that makes me smile every time I look out my kitchen window.

6. Posts Set for Expansion
Once the depot was up, work began on extending the model railroad.  I have got nine posts set, enough for a gain of about 70 feet of track - enough to get us to the next pair of towns on the line, Demorest and Clarkesville. 

Look out 2013, here we come!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Prentiss, North Carolina

Another first look - the depot at Prentiss, North Carolina! This view is looking south according to the 1927 track plans. Note the balloon stack on the old-time wood burning locomotive.

This photo was on the site of the Piedmont and Western Railroad Club. The page cites the photo as "circa 1900", but also introduces the possibility that the photo was made during filming of Great Locomotive Chase around 1955-1956.


Otto, North Carolina

I just found this southbound view of the depot at Otto, North Carolina, on the Macon County Historical Society page. The depot is in the distance on the right. On the left is Jim Porter's sawmill operation, which was logging off the land owned by W. M. Ritter using a 3.0' gauge railroad run by Andrew Gennett. The presence of the sawmill places this photo sometime around 1917.

In the awesome book Logging Railroads of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains: Vol 2. Harvey Bell of Otto was quoted as saying "the narrow gauge dinky tracks ran up Coweeta Creek for three miles to a camp on Ball Creek". Perhaps most amazing, the narrow gauge line is shown in the same book as ending on the eastern edge of the sawmill you can see in the photo, then a mile or so north of Otto it actually crossed over the Tallulah Falls "on an overhead bridge at a deep cut" and headed west to follow Coweeta Creek up the mountain.

This is the first photo I have ever seen of the TFRR in Otto!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Numbering the tracks!

The layout of my Tallulah Falls railroad tracks thus far has been based on the 1922 Sanborn fire maps of Cornelia, bits of which have been previously discussed.  These provided mostly correct track orientations and many details about the area.

One amazing detail revealed in the 1927 TFRR track plans is the numbers that the railroad assigned to every single track on the line - the sidings, the spurs, the passing tracks all numbered and length noted.  For example, here is a screenshot of the part of the yard around the two-stall engine house with track numbers revealed in the small print around each track.

This means that I have been able to correctly number/label nearly all the tracks I have built using the actual TFRR numbers and with only a minimal amount of fudging.

The plans have also revealed new details about the whole area, such as the fact that the planing mill that was located on the same siding as the railroad's coal chute ALSO had a coal chute!  Out of the blue - a new destination for TFRR traffic appears on my garden route. Other brand new delivery points on existing trackage include a spot to deliver gondolas of sand for the sand tower, a track scale, and which was the pit track in the engine house.

So here they are - the new photo track plans!

Having the new numbers also allowed a scheme to be set up for designating industry and the other car destinations on the line, which are shown in blue text and rectangular boxes on the photos.   When running trains, these destinations will be referenced when a waybill is drawn with instructions that a car needs to be moved to or from any of these spots. For a new member on a train crew, the photos will make it easy to figure out where a car can be found or is expected to go.

The implications are even more huge moving forward!   I had only found scraps of information about the tracks north of Demorest, which was the last town drawn by Sanborn in the UGA archive.  Now every detail of every stop is there for use in the railroad planning and choices ahead.  Here is a closeup of the line around the Clarksville depot, which reveals two coal bins, two seed houses, and a warehouse.   The only elements I knew about previously were the planing mill and the depot, as well as the Texaco dealership a little to the south and a few years later in history.

So exciting!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Gate Complete!

Such an improvement over the old hillbilly gate.  And only two years to complete it!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Train Show!!!

A couple weeks ago I made it to The Model Train show - the annual train show put on by the Atlanta-area chapter of the National Model Railroad Association - the Piedmont Division.

Train shows are a heavenly combination all things trains: a railroadiana swap meet with hundreds of vendors, historical society booths, model railroads on display, and tons of railfans of all ages. Here's the Piedmont Division's online trailer for the event:

At this point train shows are also great opportunities for me to run into old friends. I ran into a great friend and ally from my time in the mining industry, years ago already. We'd found our shared love for trains that was revealed when I came to work with him on one of the top floors of a 15 or so story office building in Tucker, Georgia, that directly overlooked the CSX mainline that connects New Orleans and Washington DC. It was such a treat to run into him.

I also hung out with some old pals from the Central of Georgia Railway Historical Society That booth is the ultimate treasure trove of historical information, model railroading items, and railfan gear for friends and fans of the Central of Georgia.

Here's a great little layout from the booth of a vendor of model railroad scenery supplies and tools. It was great - stuffed with details and little scenes all the way around, everywhere you looked.

This Central of Georgia RS-3 is making time with a short freight train on the Georgia Garden Railway Society's club display. That Aristocraft locomotive is a unique item, a special run that was made when Aristocraft sponsored a train show in Georgia several years ago.

Best of all, I picked up a pair of Bachmann "North Star Express" Christmas coaches from the Piedmont Division's white elephant table for $15 each! These will look great running on the Tallulah Falls with a figure of Santa to ride on the back platform and a gondola car filled with wrapped presents.


Here's a nice showcase of club layouts from the 2011 NMRA show. Be sure to check out the amazing military troop and equipment train that lumbers past for more than a minute starting at 1:18 in eye-popping Large Scale.