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An Abandoned Opportunity

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An Abandoned Opportunity
Posted by brakeman618 on Sunday, November 17, 2019 6:45 PM

While taking a cross country trip with my family on the Amtrak California Zephyr (which is an adventure for another post), I observed a lot of scenery in between keeping kids occupied. Some of this scenery I saw consisted of a lot of abandoned property or scenes. Just to name a few, there were vehicles, rusty railroad cars, out of service trackage, weedy siding, and so forth. One thing that caught my eye was in Colorado, west of Grand Junction. After traveling through the canyon and following the Colorado River, I saw what looked to be an embankment that curved South off the main line. This embankment evidently used to go over a stream as evidenced by a "daylighted" gap and one standing cement culvert on the East. I have no idea where it led to or if it were just a former road. 

As having to literally abandon my sectional model railroad recently due to a move, there lies a lot of potential ahead. 

I have the opinion that a model railroad will look more realistic if the modeler can incorporate the passage of time. Us humans abandon quite a bit of things throughout history and it probably won't take much to show this. The scene I described above could be modeled with pink foam, ground cover, ballast or a weedy road, a stream, and a culvert portal. I wonder what other such scenes can be found.

Tags: Abandoned
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Posted by riogrande5761 on Sunday, November 17, 2019 9:45 PM

I am planning to model the DRGW at Grand Junction and westward because I like the scenery in that area.  I road through in 1990 on the Amtrak CZ and have photos of that area in my Rio Grande books.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

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Posted by gmpullman on Sunday, November 17, 2019 10:48 PM

Hi,

I, too, like to observe "slices of life" that I can translate into model railroad scenes.

I rode the CZ back in 2003 and saw some of the same things you describe. Over the years the main line has been realigned and, as you mention, many tunnels and snowsheds daylighted and curves eliminated.

While riding the old C&O main line through West Virginia I saw some smaller tunnels that were bypassed in track realignment upgrades.

 IMG_0579 by Edmund, on Flickr

 IMG_0584 by Edmund, on Flickr

Abandoned buildings are another source of interesting sights, as long as it isn't taken to an extreme.

 IMG_2619 by Edmund, on Flickr

Many rights-of-way show evidence of being a former double-track railroad:

 IMG_2705 by Edmund, on Flickr

 IMG_2748 by Edmund, on Flickr

I made a scene at the end of a passing siding on my layout to look like a double track crossover had been reduced to simply a single siding switch:

 Track_joint1 by Edmund, on Flickr

Thank you, Ed

 

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Monday, November 18, 2019 5:54 AM

I have been looking all over Georgia this month to find trains to share in the Diner.

.

Instead, I am finding a lot more abandon track than I expected.

.

.

-Kevin

.

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by Medina1128 on Monday, November 18, 2019 7:49 AM

I added an abandoned grain elevator to my layout, using Walthers Cornerstone kit. no. 933-3036.

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Posted by angelob6660 on Monday, November 18, 2019 9:53 AM

I'm planning of abandoned textile mill on my NYC/CR layout along the river.

Modeling the G.N.O. Railway, The Diamond Route.

Amtrak America, 1971-Present.

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Posted by kasskaboose on Monday, November 18, 2019 10:10 AM

My good friend Paul Dolkos showed me where/how he depicted abandoned track.  He did that with adding some ground foam and tall grass growing on the track.  I plan on replicating that a bit on my current layout with some weed-infested track alongside the mainline.

Incorporating the "old and new" does make the layout more realistic. Frankly, it also makes things more enjoyable too.  Of course plenty happy to keep things pristine. 

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Posted by dknelson on Monday, November 18, 2019 10:38 AM

The cinders once used for ballast, and the creosote used to treat ties, often inhibit vegetation growth years, decades, after the track has been removed.  I have seen the tell tale signs of railroad ties on a long abandoned siding where grass grows between where the ties used to be, but hardly anything grows where the ties actually were.  And again this was decades after the rail and ties were pulled up.

Another thing commonly seen trackside - old concrete footings for signal masts, water towers, bases for trackside shanties and even small depots.  Sometimes you see a concrete loading ramp in the middle of nothing, just a ramp leading to nothing.

And of course telegraph and telephone poles can still be found trackside.

A few years ago a friend and I decided to try to follow the remains of the old Milwaukee Road line that went south of Rochelle IL, separated from the CB&Q/BN at Stewart Junction, continued on down to Mendota IL, and from there further south to the coal mine areas near Ladd and Cherry and such.  Google satellite view was our friend and I took many notes.  Sometimes a gentle rise in a country road was the evidence that a long gone grade crossing had been there.  Now and then a scar from a cut or fill was still visisble but farming activity can obliterate these clues.  Grain elevators and other structures at an illogical angle to the road grid can be another clue, as can utility lines marching off at their own strange angle.  At one obscure country road we found rails still embedded in the old asphalt.  And in a farmer's backyard we spied what clearly had been a small railroad depot.

This kind of rural industrial archeology can be tremendous fun.  Once we were trying to find the route of the long long gone Galesburg & Great Eastern Railroad.  A siding off the BNSF into the weeds seemed to be promising evidence - and a BNSF signal maintainer who noticed us crawling around on the property confirmed that we were standing on former G&GE tracks - as shown on his official BNSF track chart.  We guestimated the route of the rails to Victoria IL where the old G&GE depot still stood but could not figure out where the coal mine - the only customer -- had been.  So we drove around more or less blindly until a quick glance up a dirt road showed something --odd.  A quick U turn and up that road found the holy grail of the G&GE: a water tank and a two stall engine house both obscured by weeds and vines.  And yes we could still make out the path of ties and rails due to vegetation still being inhibited by the remains of creosote from 70 years earlier!

Someone told us that you can fine that water tank and enginehouse about every 5th try.  It is pure luck and there are no landmarks to follow.

Dave Nelson

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Posted by BRAKIE on Monday, November 18, 2019 10:40 AM

Way back in '98 I built a  12' protolance switching layout I called CR's Toledo "River Front Industrial".  Of the seven indusries only 5 remained rail served.  

I had a former rail served industry that still had its weed covered siding but,the switch was removed. I used Woodland Scenics Medium Green Clump Foliage for weeds with miscellaneous industrial junk,a home made old rusty overhead crane for unloading steel from gons ,a junk forklift and a home made dumpster. Two small trees (1") had also taken route and started their growth. The other industry, a rail to barge gravel loading dock that  cease operation and all that remained was its locked gate and rusty rails leading to the off layout dock. 

Larry

SSRy

Conductor

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Posted by Eilif on Tuesday, November 19, 2019 2:16 PM

Great suggestions here guys.

        I'm very interested in having some abandoned buldings and infrastructure in my urban chicago layout.  That sort of thing is so common around here that it wouldn't feel complete without it. 

I'd love to add the Hawethorne Works Tower...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawthorne_Works

... that sits across the street from my usual Aldi, and there's a faller kit that's not too far off, but I'm pretty sure I won't have the space to dedicate to it.  Maybe a background flat...

 

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Posted by Motley on Tuesday, November 19, 2019 4:21 PM

Don't forget about all the Gold Rush mines in Colorado. There are lots of them.

I plan to model this on my new layout.

Michael


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Posted by mrrdad on Friday, November 22, 2019 11:56 PM

Eilif

Great suggestions here guys.

        I'm very interested in having some abandoned buldings and infrastructure in my urban chicago layout.  That sort of thing is so common around here that it wouldn't feel complete without it. 

I'd love to add the Hawethorne Works Tower...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawthorne_Works

... that sits across the street from my usual Aldi, and there's a faller kit that's not too far off, but I'm pretty sure I won't have the space to dedicate to it.  Maybe a background flat...

 

 

 

Being a former Chicagoan, I am quite familiar with that tower. My wife grew up the first 20 years of her life in Cicero. She had relatives that worked there at the Western Electric Hawthorn Works facility.

 

I have done a lot of research on that building and the nearby former Sears complex. What amazing places those must have been. Basically cities within cities. The Hawthorn Works facility had around 45,000 employees and Sears had over 30,000 I believe.

 

Ed

Modeling the B&O Chicago Terminal Railroad in the 1950's

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Posted by Eilif on Tuesday, November 26, 2019 12:44 PM

mrrdad

 

 
Eilif

Great suggestions here guys.

        I'm very interested in having some abandoned buldings and infrastructure in my urban chicago layout.  That sort of thing is so common around here that it wouldn't feel complete without it. 

I'd love to add the Hawethorne Works Tower...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawthorne_Works

... that sits across the street from my usual Aldi, and there's a faller kit that's not too far off, but I'm pretty sure I won't have the space to dedicate to it.  Maybe a background flat...

 

 

 

 

 

Being a former Chicagoan, I am quite familiar with that tower. My wife grew up the first 20 years of her life in Cicero. She had relatives that worked there at the Western Electric Hawthorn Works facility.

 

I have done a lot of research on that building and the nearby former Sears complex. What amazing places those must have been. Basically cities within cities. The Hawthorn Works facility had around 45,000 employees and Sears had over 30,000 I believe.

 

Ed

 

Hi Ed.  In a different time, we'd practically be neighbors!  I'm just over the border in K-Town, North Lawndale.  

Have you looked up the Sears Complex lately, or "Homan Square" as it is now known?  It's been slowly coming back.  A few highlights..

-About 20 years ago they built a whole slew of townhomes that are quite nice. 

-I used to work for the Lawndale Christian Health Center that has had a location on that property for almost that long alongside a new school building, Park District Pool and a YMCA.

-The power house building now houses a school. Was there for a meeting recently and it's really cool to see how they preserved  some of the machinery and overhead cranes as visual elements.

-The preseved "Old Sears Tower" finally got renovated a couple years ago and has various commercial tenants. 

-Lastly, the "Catalog Printing Building" just got turned into some impressive affordable lofts. http://www.royalimperial.com/lofts-on-arthington-residential/

I think the only remaining unused structures on the site is the second smaller building next to the Lofts and the parking garage. 

Visit the Chicago Valley Railroad for Chicago Trainspotting and Budget Model Railroading. 

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Posted by rrinker on Tuesday, November 26, 2019 1:13 PM

Motley

Don't forget about all the Gold Rush mines in Colorado. There are lots of them.

I plan to model this on my new layout.

 

 

 I remember seeing that! Almost directly across Clear Creek I had some of the best BBQ I've ever had. 

                                  --Randy


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

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Posted by RR_Mel on Tuesday, November 26, 2019 1:25 PM

When I was much younger (50 years ago) I had a blast following the defunct Southern Pacific logging roadbed in the Southern New Mexico mountains.  There was a narrow gauge rail using standard gauge width track from Alamogordo (4350’ AMSL) to Cloudcroft (9250’ AMSL).
 
The logging track was all over the mountainous area around Cloudcroft.  The Southern Pacific logged the area for their ties and built a recreational Lodge for SP executives later becoming the Cloudcroft Lodge.
 
Over many summers I followed where the old logging track had been.  I finally stumbled onto some forgotten rails and I was in hog heaven.  I managed to salvage a 4’ section of the narrow gauge rail using a cutting torch, several trips.
 
The trestle across Mexican Canyon is now on the Natural Register of Historic Places.  The trestle was restored by the USDA 2008/2010.
 
 
I have a polished 12” piece of historic narrow gauge logging rail on my display shelf.
 
The SP NM logging railroad had a lot to do with the design of my current layout.  It has a Mel version of the Mexican Canyon Trestle and lots of tall pines.
 
 
 
 
EDIT:
 
The track from Alamogordo to Cloudcroft was approximately 25 miles climbing 4720’ or about 3½% grade, my layout has a 3½% grade too.  Great for Shays and a dozen logging cars.
 
 
 
Mel
 
 
My Model Railroad   
 
Bakersfield, California
 
I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.
 
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Posted by Doughless on Tuesday, November 26, 2019 5:47 PM

I model modern era and there are abandoned railroad stuff all over the place. Of course, some of it abandoned for so long its getting overrun and harder to find.

Even back in the day when railroads were more plentiful, there were always mergers, bankruptcies, economic cycles causing businesses to cease.  Its expensive to tear stuff down, so just let it rot.

On the new layout, I've got some space that doesn't work for tracks or buildings, but its too big to just scenic it.  I'm thinking about a valley/creek scene where an abandonded railroad bridge is barely standing and the ROW leading to it is overgrown.  Or maybe just the bridge piers standing naked in the middle of the valley holding up nothing.

I found a pic on the 'net of an old coaling tower I see often in Newnan GA.  The tracks underneath are used by a fairly busy branch line of the NS (or I'm told CSX, hmm?).  The more busy mainline crosses it at grade in the photo.

Not sure of the history, but the railroad seems to have rebuilt a lot of the trackage around it (no sign of a former yard that I can see), and yet still thought it too expensive to tear down.

Image result for coaling tower newnan ga"

 

 

- Douglas

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Tuesday, November 26, 2019 7:47 PM

I have simply extended dead-end sidings a few inches.  In one spot, it simply crossed a road and is now paved over, with rusty track and old ties on the other side.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

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Posted by mbinsewi on Tuesday, November 26, 2019 8:23 PM

I railfan the CN (former WC, former SOO, and the first WC) and most of the original poles, and wires still remain along the main line.

The wires have long since been abandoned, but still remain, although all are downed and laying on the landscape, but still hanging on to the poles.

My attempt to model this:

Mike.

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Posted by Wolf359 on Wednesday, November 27, 2019 1:55 PM

brakeman618

One thing that caught my eye was in Colorado, west of Grand Junction. After traveling through the canyon and following the Colorado River, I saw what looked to be an embankment that curved South off the main line. This embankment evidently used to go over a stream as evidenced by a "daylighted" gap and one standing cement culvert on the East. I have no idea where it led to or if it were just a former road.

 

It kind of sounds like you may have seen some remnants of the Little Book Cliff Railway, but I'm not 100% sure about that. I live in Colorado, but I've never been to that area. I couldn't find any photos, but I did find some information on it if you're interested. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Book_Cliff_Railway

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Posted by jjdamnit on Wednesday, November 27, 2019 2:30 PM

Hello All,

Motley

Don't forget about all the Gold Rush mines in Colorado. There are lots of them.

I plan to model this on my new layout.

 

Keep in mind, while not a currently producing mine, The Argo is not abandoned as it still gives tours.

Hope this helps.

"Uhh...I didn’t know it was 'impossible' I just made it work...sorry"

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Posted by gmpullman on Wednesday, November 27, 2019 2:52 PM

mbinsewi
The wires have long since been abandoned, but still remain, although all are downed and laying on the landscape, but still hanging on to the poles.

Mike — YesBow

Yours is an excellent solution to the quandry of stringing wire along the right-of-way. I have held off on installing line poles for this reason.

I don't want to deal with stringing wire and the associated hassles of the wire (thread) always interfering with track maintenance or, shudder the thought, a derailment.

Perfect solution, excellent photos Yes

        Cheers, Ed

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