I have been spending an hour or so a night for the last couple of weeks planning, and re-planning, the Essex Junction scene.
I’m happy to report these efforts are starting to pay off.
This scene and I go way back. The first layout I started building as an adult (when I determined the CV in the steam era was right for me) featured the Essex Junction scene. That one never got past the benchwork stage. The second time I modeled it was in N scale on a small layout I built in a rented townhome when I was on the MR staff. That scene led to an article on Essex Junction that appeared in Model Railroad Planning.
It's finally time to do this scene again - this go 'round will be HO scale.
Essex Junction is, in reality, two different “scenes.” The first, and most recognizable, is the area around the trainshed itself. Here’s a familiar view of the trainshed.
The second, much less familiar scene was area around the wye, just a couple of blocks south of the trainshed. It was rarely, if ever photographed – at least in its entirety. One photo showing the wye is this very early image:
Using CV engineering department drawings and Sanborn Maps this map shows the track and most of the industries in, and around, Essex Junction in the early 1950s.
On the layout, I’m taking the approach of making whatever compromises I need to make to have the trainshed look as much like the pictures as possible, even if it means I have to “tweak” the wye scene slightly. Perhaps the biggest compromise I made was to flip the location of the wye and trainshed, relative to the other modeled towns on the layout. Coming north from Waterbury (on the layout, around the bend on the peninsula) a train should go through the wye and then past the shed on its way north to St. Albans. On my layout the train will go through the shed and then the wye. If I maintained the prototype elements in their correct orientation, the track would curve in the “wrong” direction relative to the most commonly photographed view of the scene. I felt it was important to capture this angle for the trainshed scene to look right, even if it meant flipping the relative location of the shed and wye. Besides, when I mocked up the scene with the elements in the “right” place there was little room for the wye trackage. The shape of the basement dictated the placement I’m using.
Due to the configuration of the layout and the basement, I can also add a live third leg of the wye to serve as a live interchange track representing the Burlington branch. This same track will also permit me to reverse trains between sessions by backing them over from the north end staging yard.
I suppose there are some who would be bothered to no end by the compromises I’ve made on this scene. I think the finished scene will look like Essex Junction, even if the individual elements are not arranged exactly like the prototype.