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Why Not A Modern Route?

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#1 laming


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Posted 09 July 2004 - 11:34 PM

I've been asked before: "Why doesn't VSC make a modern route?"

That's a fair enough question. I'll share a bit of the "why" VSC is recreating a route depicting yet another era yet modeled, this time the early 50s.

First off, let me say right up front that modern railroading has much to commend it. I can most certainly understand why it has a following. Though I prefer railroading I have seen in the past (or never had the chance to see), after seeing abandoned rights of way scattered all about where I live, then I will say it again that as far as this boy is concerned: ANY railroading is better than NO railroading at all.

But why doesn't VSC do a modern route?

Yup, fair question, but a hefty one.

I think it has to do with a word I've termed in the dateless past. The word is: "Railroady".

Though the locomotives of today are more fuel efficient, more powerful... more everything... than first generation diesels, or of course, our beloved steam engines... that's the just it: Today's railroading has gotten coldly efficient and just lacks the aura of railroading past.

The trends of America have shifted. Transportation has changed. Our US industrial base has changed... even our US culture has radically changed. It was inevitable that railroading change.

And change they did.

No doubt their changes are what is best for their bottom line in todays transportation market. Along the way, however, the heart and soul of railroading has been surgically removed with indifferent effeciency.

Not so as you go back in time. As you time travel back, with each decade that is retrieved, more and more gets added to the transportation scene, the American scene, the "railroad" scene. And what a scene that railroad scene was. It was a scene filled with cinder ballast, 90lb rail, clickety-clack trains rattling by on jointed rail, semaphores, train order stations, small towns with railroad service, large train yards with mulitple railroads utilizing it, to mention a few elements.

Train movements were seemingly everywhere: Mainline traffic, passenger traffic, local freights, "Red Ball" freights, transfer runs, drag freights... the list goes on!

It was railroading moving along lines that had things called "Depots" beside the rails. Depots that were still in the railroad business. It was railroading on turntables, in roundhouses, and divisional engine shops that bustled with activity. It was a scene that, once happened upon, immediately shouted "RAILROAD!".

I say it was a scene having that "railroady" look.

Let me offer one picture that perhaps illustrates what I'm saying. The picture is of a prototype scene that will be represented on VSC's upcoming Lehigh & New England route.

You're looking at "Hainesburg Junction".

Haineburg Junction was merely a "place". Not a thriving metropolis, not a manufacturing center.

No, it was a railroad place. Its only reason for existance was to transfer goods. Goods aboard 40' boxcars and 36' hoppers, and other such railroad cars.

It was here, at Hainesburg Jct, that the Lehigh & New England entered New York Susquehanna & Western trackage. It was here, at Hainesburg Jct, that the Lehigh & New England and the New York Susquehanna & Western exchanged freight in an almost forgotten railroad operation called "interchange". You see, it takes OTHER railroads to have interchange... when there is only one railroad in the region as in today's "modern" scene, "interchange" becomes a moot point. Another signant of "railroady". But I digress.

In the picture below, you have several things happening in what could otherwise be termed No Place, USA.

To wit: On the old mainline, the NYSW employee-turned-photographer is standing atop his train that will soon be leaving, having picked up a sizable cut of interchange from the LNE.

Entering the small, but busy, LNE interchange yard is yet ANOTHER NYSW train with tonnage for the LNE. If you'll look close, you'll see the cars of what would be an LNE train that is ALSO switching the area.

And as frosting on the cake, overhead on the stately Paulins Kill viaduct we see the Lackawanna's crack passenger train "Phoebe Snow" making time toward New York City on their double track mainline.

This, friend, is "railroady". The train order station, the small bustling yard, the plentitude of train traffic, cuts of cars here, semaphore there, first generation Alco's, cinder ballast... it's got it.


But that's the way it was in late in 1950, the date of this picture.

Now, care to compare this same scene to what appears here "today"?

RS1's: Gone.
FA1's: Gone.
NYSW: Gone.
LNE: Gone.
Rails: Gone.
Structures: Gone.

The only enduring emblem as a memorial to this scene is the Paulins Kill viaduct. Yet, even that, is now silent... for no trains of any type travel across it any more.

Why doesn't VSC model a modern route?

I think you now have just a bit more insight as to "why" VSC doesn't.

Let's go railroading...

Andre Ming

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#2 zhivago47


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Posted 09 July 2004 - 11:52 PM

Keep building em that way Andre. I couldn't agree with you more. Much too sanitized now for me. You don't even get the wave out the window that you used to get back when I was a kid. It isn't even fun for the engineers now, I think. Too much business, no pleasure. I'll take the Steam era, early or late and then the early diesels of the fifties. There were railroads then, everywhere.
Cyndi has in her signature "where have all the flowers gone". It should say, "where have all the railroad gone", gone to graveyards everyone. When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn.?"
Just like the neighborhood schools. Now you can't afford to send a kid to school because they have to buy everything because the buses that travel eight, ten, twenty miles to a regional school are costing too much. And of course the regional schools have to pay more for teachers to compete with the other regional school across town. ........But I could go on and on. We've lost everything that was good since the early 80's and it just is getting worse and worse. Sad.....but true.

#3 august1929


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Posted 10 July 2004 - 12:10 AM

Andre - I and a whole load others are with you there.

In the UK I look around at the rail system we have and feel kind of sad - not because it doesn't work (though some might question that), but mainly because I remember the variety and life that it had when my father was a railman.

I enjoy modern routes for what they are, but there is something about railways in the periods V Scale is modelling that have that little bit extra.

Keep on down the track!


#4 atsf37l


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Posted 13 July 2004 - 11:09 PM

I, for one, am tickled that someone is producing "period" pieces in this hobby. Most of the routes and equipment out there are being done by and for the kids out there today. As you said, Andre, nothing wrong with that. Big time massive power railroading is a hoot. But those of us who have been around a few years long for a dose of fantasy in our modeling. That means looking to the past - to what we grew up with and sorely miss.

I'm pushing 59 years this year and I remember mainline steam on the Santa Fe as a kid. I remember gleaming stainless steel San Diegan passenger trains with PAs on 'em. Then later the red nosed F units (Hey! Where'd the PAs go?! Scrapped! Hell, I better start paying attention!). I remember zebra striped Geeps, switchers and even SD-24s and DL600B alligators. I remember Black Widow F's and Geeps on the SD&AE and GE 70 tonners in black with yellow stripes and also gray and red on the El Cajon branch before it was the East line of the San Diego Trolley.

I miss that stuff. And I am happy as a clam to be able to crawl up into the cab of my namesake, the ATSF 37L, and take the Super Chief over Cajon, or Glorieta, or Raton. Or run black widows over Goat Canyon trestle on the SD&AE.

And I'm having a ball running 4-6-0s in the wilds of Arkansas!

Keep the nostalgia coming, Andre. I love it!


#5 pnrailway



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Posted 14 July 2004 - 03:54 AM

I too am the same age, perhaps a bit older since I am pushing 60, but just barely. I too remember mainline steam, but in an eastern dressing with Pacific's with 72 inch drivers striking a kid with wonderment and awl as he stood there on the platform looking up at just the top of the drivers, not to mention the large B&O locomotive as it stood steaming and hissing in the station in downtown Baltimore. It instilled in me a life long love affair with the railroad and with steam as well. I too like "period" railroads, but my tastes do not go back just quite as far, preferring more the sheer size and bruit force of the locomotives that ran on the railroads after the time of the "Great War" as WWI came to be known, in the 20's and early 30's.

Don't get me wrong, Andre's railroad is great, it is ma masterpiece in it's own right, I just do not prefer the period in which it is set, the same as some may prefer narrow gage to standard gage, or even interurban to the traditional railroads. That is why it is good that we have such a great variety to choose from, to satisfy all choices. With Andre's route, it can be easily updated, if only slightly to the 20's and 30's by changing out the locomotives and rolling stock because in that area and in that amount of time, this "modern" pike would still look right because most of the structures would not have changed. With some of the other railroads available, "back dating" to that period would not look proper because of the far more modern structures, plus you would have to shut off all the traffic on the roads because that did not match either.

I applaud Andre's work and it's ability to be a "modern" railroad, if only ever so slightly, and it's giving us another choice in which to loose ourselves for hours, or perhaps days at a time. rolleyes.gif biggrin.gif laugh.gif tongue.gif cool.gif wink.gif


#6 atsf37l


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Posted 14 July 2004 - 09:32 AM

If you've ever been to Northern Arkansas you would know that, except for the vehicles, there was little change in that area up into the 60s and 70s at least. False front buildings, outhouses and dirt roads were still common in the Ozarks well into the diesel era and still are today in some isolated areas. laugh.gif

I hear what you say about backdating. When I run my '50s Santa Fe trains over Cajon and Raton I just have to ignore the Subarus and Land Rovers. I know when (oh when?) Pacific Surfliner finally comes out I will run my 1950s San Diegans over CP Cumbre instead of Miramar (or Linda Vista) with dual directional signals and WAY too many buildings and roads, but we have to do what we have to do. Maybe if they had decided to build it as a vintage route it would have been done by now. I still can't wait! wink.gif


#7 mquist



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Posted 18 July 2004 - 05:11 PM

Every one does modern routes - I guess that is what the kids want - shiny new dash9 and container train zipping along at 70 MPH but heck thats not railroading as we old folks knew it. Older eastern senarios are fine with me - keep up the good work.

#8 zhivago47


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Posted 18 July 2004 - 08:36 PM

Well, pushing 57 now, I too am with you folks. I prefer the steam era most of all. Perhaps not as far back as Andre's route but I still love running it and that can be changed to almost any steam era and not be totally out of place. Sounds like northern Maine where up until the late 50's and early sixties there were still outhouses there....hmmm I think there might still be some. And I can recall telephone that had the cranks on them up into the mid fifties, one ring two......smile.gif So, Arkansas isn't much different than many other rural areas. You can run just about anything in the area and the buildings and the surroundings didn't change much. I like the later Steam era myself as well as the very early diesel era. Of course I am from the east and am not familiar with those railroads much but even as a kid in Maine they were still running steam for a while there. The names were different but the railroading wasn't. That was when railroads were railroads as far as I am concerned. But then I am getting old too. Oh well. Still looking forward to Andre's new route.

#9 BLW_1946



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Posted 19 July 2004 - 06:31 AM

my earliest railroad related memories are of Erie rs2s or rs3s and C&O gp7s entering and leaving the small yard a couple of short blocks from my home on 7th Street in Niagara Falls NY. When my family moved to the Tonawandas in 1952 we would travel along River Rd in North Tonawanda, where the NYC and the Erie tracks ran parallel. I remember Lehigh Valley FAs and New York Central F-units, the NYC 'Beeliner' RDC that I rode with my grandmother to the big city of Buffalo, and other delights of the era...

I remember my amazement at the sight of Enola Yard in 1960 en route to visit my grandfather, who now lived in Florida, and the ACL and SAL trains as we drove down along the east coast...

I remember lamenting as Penn Central, Erie-Lackawanna, and Chessie paint began replacing the familiar colors of my youth...

Yet my fondest memories are from the 80s and early 90s, when my raifan passion bore fruit, and some of my 'railroady-est' photos were taken a mere 10 to 15 years ago, yet at the time, I was wishing I had been at those locations a generation or two earlier.

Yesterday afternoon, a CSX Niagara Falls turn went by with a weather-beaten 4-unit EMD consist, including a gp30 as the 4th unit. Guess which unit was in the lead on the return trip?

One only has to listen to a scanner in this area to realize that railroading is still a unique occupation...

And there are still a lot of shortlines and regionals to visit...

Tim B

#10 zhivago47


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Posted 19 July 2004 - 08:35 PM

And there are still a lot of shortlines and regionals to visit...

Not in this part of the country Tim. You are fortunate indeed. All we have here is NS, CSX, and UP! At least that is all I ever get to see, other than some units that haven't been repainted yet. sad.gif Hence, my passion for RR's like Southern, NW, Clinchfield, LV, L&N, etc. Was a sad day that the "Railroads died", altogether now

"Bye Bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry"

Well, you get the picture here! sad.gif ph34r.gif

#11 BLW_1946



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Posted 19 July 2004 - 09:29 PM

it's funny - I was reading a reprinted article by David P. Morgan in a mid 90s Trains magazine during a slow period at work today, in which he spoke to both sides of the same issue. the ironic thing is that the article was originally written in 1964...

I'm glad I have my photographs - and I'm glad I can share the memories with others through these forums. but i'm also looking forward to getting out and taking some new photographs of today's action that i'll be able to look back upon in ten or 15 years time...

undoubtedly, much has been lost. and it's not just in railroading alone. and it's a whole lot more than locomotives and paint...

we all feel it. we all know it. I could get on a long-winded soapbox about the causes, but I won't...

here, we still have railroads, but our kids are leaving faster than geese in autumn. and they don't return in the spring...

but yet, I can look at a not so old photo of a CSX coal train in the Canisteo River Valley in the waning hours of a winter's day, and the feeling it evokes would be the same in any era...


still, it's nice to be able to visit another time and place, where life wasn't quite so hectic, and everything made sense, at least in retrospect...

#12 boundy



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Posted 20 July 2004 - 12:30 AM

Oh Great Poobah;
Be of good cheer and let none distract you from the L&NE. I am pushing 70 and I can remember my home town on the Cumberland Div. of the B&O pop. about 1000 was served by 3 railroads , 1 interurbin. It was a grand event when the west bound Cincinatian came through making a run for the 17 mile grade. Oh yes one of those railroads made all there own locos at there shops in Mt Savage, Md. The last one served out her time on the Winchester and Western. This is going to cause me to open some good cheer as I still miss all of it. Push on great creator and damn the barbs. ph34r.gif

#13 zhivago47


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Posted 20 July 2004 - 08:57 PM

Tim, won't be long before everything is UP anyway. So I hope everyone likes armour yellow!! The government won't let the airlines or the major corporations run a monopoly but I foresee this coming. I sure hope not but I don't see anything stopping it at the moment. Well, I guess we will have the CP as well. I'll take the second over the first anyday..... unsure.gif ph34r.gif