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It's Friday, June 18, 1925
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The morning train enters Middletown by crossing the Scherzer Rolling Lift Bridge pulled by my largest loco, a Gem 2-4-4-2. There are a few fishing shacks along the river to the right.
The operating bridge was scratch built from an Alan Armitage article. The coal hopper cars are some of six scratch built from a Jack Work article years ago. The river was made from plaster colored with Floquil Coach Green to simulate a river you wouldn't want to fall in.
This aerial view shows a little more of the river port and the bridge. In the foreground there are some fishing shacks and row boats. These row boats were made from IBM cards.
Morning activities around town include the icing of a couple of refrigerator cars. This ice service is called Poli Ice after my late friend Gene Griffin, who was once a state policeman. To the residents, it's known as "Fuzz Griffin's place." At the High Street Station, just out of sight above, are passengers waiting to board the Tour Train.
Other morning activities find the truck, with crushed ice, from Poli Ice on the dock at Steph & Wes's Fish. Apparently neither Steph or Wes have shown up, so far, so the driver catches a quick smoke while he waits. Next door, Rick's Marine is open. Rick thoughtfully provided a bench outside so the wives and girlfriends have a place to sit while their significant others shop for the latest in rods, reels, and other marine purchases.
Even employees of the railroad are on the job, the job they should have finished yesterday. It's the ash cleanout pit that is somewhat overdue for cleaning. Hand shoveling and a horse drawn wagon are the norm. Back in 1925, labor was much cheaper than installing a mechanical ash remover.
Of course, other M&MM employees have a different routine. Here, one of the railroad's engineers likes to take a dip in the water to start his day. From his expression, it appears, even in mid-June, the water is a little chilly. The roundhouse is just above the wall, to the right. Back to the tour.
We will be using #78, a ten-wheeler, as our tour locomotive, Here it leaves the roundhouse, still under construction. It is still lacking a roof and finish details around the area. That door is the only one temporarily in place for this photo. I made this door of styrene because the kit doors seemed too short. Only 9 more doors to go.
Our ten-wheeler to be used for our tour is about to leave the turntable. We won't need coal today since the loco was filled before putting it in the roundhouse. The operators shack was built by my good friend Tom Staton from Skaneateles, NY who is an excellent modeler in On3. It has full interior detail and operator.
Over at the Middletown Station, the 0-4-0, a Varney locomotive that was the subject of an article in Feb/1981, also on the cover, where long time friend Harold Horner describes how he added the valve gear, other details, and sound. The loco eases a box car to our combination car. The M & MM RR runs on a tight budget and since materials are needed at the mines, a box car will accompany the Tour Train. You can see some of the passengers for our train waiting to board.
The engine is coupled to the train and all passengers are aboard. The engineer gives the whistle a couple of toots and we're off on our tour of the Middletown & Mystic Mines RR.
Again, we're crossing the lift bridge, heading for the track under the stairs and through my wife's canned goods cabinet. We will be out of sight until we cross the street in Middletown near the Middlesex Theater.
We emerge from under the stairs near the Middlesex Theater, a prototype in Middletown. The marquee has fiber optic lights that chase around the marquee on all sides. That gray building in the background is the Arrigoni Hotel although residents, who have stayed there experiencing the hard beds and poor service, refer to it as the Agony Hotel.
We continue up grade past Middletown's scrap yard. This was the subject of an article in RMC Mar/1986 issue. The wall is made from balsa wood and wood burned, and then colored, to simulate rock work.
Rather than show our Tour Train up close, I panned back a bit to show the majority of the city of Middletown. In the lower left, you can see the station our train left a few minutes ago. Also, in the lower, center is the street we crossed by the Middlesex Theater. You can get a better view of Hotel Agony (oops) I mean Hotel Arrigoni. It's the big gray structure. We're due to enter another trip under the stairs and come out by Miracle Chair Co.
We emerge from an under-the-stairs tunnel (again) by the town's major employer called the Miracle Chair Co. It has a snappy slogan, 'If It's a Good Chair, It's a Miracle". The steel deck girder bridge is actually made from wood with wood angles added. That's the river harbor, below, where we stared our tour.
The engineer eases back on the throttle as we near High Street Station. As you can see, several more passengers are waiting to board the Tour Train. On the left, are the tenements that I wrote an article in MR Feb/1989 issue. It was by far, the most popular article I have written. The washing on the line is aluminum foil, draped as necessary, and painted to represent sheets and articles of clothing. Can you see the socks on the bottom line? The dead weeds on the bank are from my son Scott's hair when I used to give him haircuts when he was just a lad. This was long before Woodland Scenics came out with weeds in their product line.
Here is a closer look at the tenements and the building under demolition next to it. Two different kit manufactures made a kit of this model, Northeastern doing the best job. It's also available in N scale. The article on the building demolition was in MR Aug/1988 issue.
As we continue to climb the grade, we pass by the grand old home of P. T. Farnsworth, founder of the M & MM RR. He had his home positioned between tracks of the mainline and with a panoramic view of Middletown and it's freight and passenger cars as well as the roundhouse, all in the valley below. He is always on his porch whenever a train goes by. Our engineer gives him a toot on the whistle.
Our tour continues over a series of steel trusses to a somewhat level spot in the grade before we start climbing again. These bridges were made from Atlas bridge kits. I fashioned the between-truss supports from strip wood. The clouds are on my backdrop, using an airbrush to create them.
Passengers lean out the windows to catch a view the waterfall below. That stone arch bridge was first formed with a 1/4" plywood base, covered with screening. Over this, I laid a thin layer of plaster. Once the plaster had dried, I scribed a series of horizontal lines connecting them with vertical lines to represent stonework. The screening ensures that the plaster will stick to the plywood.
We arrive at the most scenic part of the railroad, Gorgeous Gorge. Here, a 6 1/2 foot mountain extends to the floor, A wood trestle, 18" high and about 3 feet long causes our engineer to stop the train so all passengers can get a view. I made this bridge by cutting basswood on my table saw using a veneer blade. The young woman on the platform has convinced her boyfriend to take a photo of her, the trestle and train. (see his results, next)
Her boyfriend must have quite an athlete to make this trek for her photograph. He was probably pretty winded by the time he got back to the train. The patient engineer waited until everyone was back on board his train. So, on with the tour.
Just after the trestle, we travel through the shortest tunnel on the line.
Passengers gasp at the sheer drop just outside their windows. The engineer drops to a coast here, no sense tempting any mishap.
I had a plaster arch bridge I got from somewhere. It was too short for this scene so I cast matching blocks of plaster, scribed the stone, and added to the arch portion of the bridge. At this point, the grade resumes, rather steep, to Mystic.
This shot was to show that the layout is not complete and there are still some bench work that need scenery. Here, our Tour Train just exits a tunnel to cross a Howe Truss bridge after we did a figure eight inside the peninsular tunnel. This bridge came from a Campbell kit.
Here, the grade is very steep, about 6 percent. Even short trains slow down to a crawl at this point. In the foreground, is a structure (Alexe's Axes) from Harold Horner's layout which I plan to incorporate into the scenery. Mystic is next.
Our train emerges from a short timber-lined tunnel by the Mystic yard. Time seems to have passed by Mystic with the two-stall engine house and timber-lined turntable pit. The engine house was built from plans in RMC back in the late 40"s. It was submitted by John Allen who had an opportunity to see this model at an model show. He chided me about making the inside bracing wrong, which was wrong in the plans. I said to John, "I made is just the plans called for it to be made".
Our train slows down as we enter Mystic. We will be passing the Mystic station and continue on to Lands End station. A special treat is in store for the passengers.
This view shows the town of Mystic. The coal towers, on the left, were built from a prototype near me when I was 16 years old. It was a subject of an article in RMC May, 1961. The gas station is from a Railroad Avenue structure and the kit comes with the sway roof as part of the kit. As you can see, this area has forced perspective creating more depth than I actually had when I modeled Mystic.
Our train stops at Lands End station, just enough to clear the narrow gauge tracks. This station was made by the late Rob Corriston, a long time friend, who wrote many articles for the Railroad Model Craftsman.
Some passengers have already disembarked from the train. They seemed relieved to stretch their legs after a long, cramped ride from Middletown. Everyone is wondering why we didn't stop at the Mystic station since Lands End doesn't offer any conveniences.
Beyond the view of our passengers, a K-28 Mikado, the largest loco of the Mystic Mines RR, backs out the the single stall engine house onto a gallows turntable. As you can see, the narrow gauge portion is even further back in time than even the town of Mystic.
Our K-28 is leaving the turntable to pick up a couple of coaches for our passenger to take a ride to the mine area. This is an extra treat for our passengers.
The narrow gauge train meets our train at Land End. Now word is spreading to our passengers what is happening and some excitement is brewing. Other, older passengers, wonder if they can last on this extended addition to our tour. Our passengers board the combine and coach of the narrow gauge train.
All who wanted to continue the trip up to the mines have boarded. A few stayed on the standard gauge coach preferring to relax before the trip back home. Besides, the narrow gauge coaches are cramped and ride hard over the tracks. Only the hardy are aboard our train.
After climbing the grade behind the town of Mystic, our train emerges on the Clerke Memorial bridge. This bridge was built by the late Donald Clerke and I was fortunate to be able to obtain this beautiful structure and incorporate it into my layout. It wasn't easy to fit it in, and my problems prompted an article that was published in MR Aug/2002 issue.
Our engineer accelerates quickly to make the grade as we enter the tunnel. By the time our photographer got a shot of the train, just the coach was visible.
We cross another trestle just after leaving the tunnel. At this point, we have traveled from Middletown, height 36" to this point, height 60". Everything is down hill from here.
A stone culvert bridges a small mountain stream, This culvert was made from sheet balsa and stone was burned in with a wood burning tool. The whole sheet was painted a light gray to simulate mortar. Then, various shades of brown were dry brushed to simulate individual "rocks". The man in the lower left has been panning that stream for a long time but I don't think he has struck gold, yet.
This mine is one of three that will comprise Mystic Mines. It was scratch built from one that stood in Park City, Utah. I had it entered into an NMRA convention in Montreal and it won 2nd prize, Structures. The other two mines will be positioned on the other side of the peninsular.
At his point, you can view the train entering the timber lined tunnel where it passes through from one side to the other on the peninsular.
This photo shows are train heading for Mystic Mine #3. Although the track is in, that's all there is to see. Scenery isn't complete yet but it's coming soon.
Mystic Mine #3 has a passing track and we were able to get our loco to the other end of the train. The mandatory rule is that the loco has to precede the train going down the steep grade, for safety reasons.
We get back to Lands End station and a surprise is in store for our passengers. It seems that Old #78 is feeling its age because they discovered a broken link in the valve gear and it will take a while to get the part. The M & MM RR is always prepared for such emergencies so they have the rail car available to take us back to Middletown.
The sun is getting low in the sky as our rail car leaves Mystic heading for home. It will be dark by the time we get back to Middletown.
As we travel by the founder's house once more, the sun is setting. It's tough to tell if Old Farnsworth is still on the porch, but my guess, he is.
We arrive at High Street Station to let those passengers off that boarded the Tour here. As you can see, most of Middletown is in darkness. The workers at the Eagle Paper Co. have long since gone home and Poli Ice, to the right, has the compressors going to keep the ice cold but only a night light lit, out of view. Our last stop is at Middletown Station.
We approach Middletown Station though the bridge where all traffic enters the Middletown Yard. The moon is out now allowing for a photo to be taken. It has been a long trip but I hope you enjoyed it. Next, and last stop, Middletown station.
Finally, we have come to the Tour's end at Middletown Station. Looks like some friends and relatives are in the station to welcome us home. This photo is one that was saved from my old website, taken with my Nikon slide camera. It's not digital quality but until I get a better digital camera to replace this photo, it will have to do.