CP Executive train in Albany

CP Executive train in Albany

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Why the D&H's "Colonie Main" line?

So why did I pick to model the Delaware and Hudson? It wasn't my first choice. Ever since I was a child I have really liked the Burlington Northern’s paint scheme of green and black with white stripes. It looked really sharp, and the initials "B" and "N" were two-thirds of my name. However, growing up in Rochester, NY, I rarely saw BN trains, though I did see a lot of lease units which at one time were BN motive power.
Instead, as a child of the 1980s and 1990s my railfanning days were filled with Conrail blue. I quickly built up a sizeable roster of Conrail engines and cabooses without any consistency or logic. I also painted a lot of freight cars for Conrail, using cheap brown spray paint and decal sets. Unfortunately, Conrail ceased to exist in 1999 and slowly "Big Blue" morphed into CSX. While Conrail felt comforting and familiar, CSX seemed like the foreign invader and even now 16 years later I still haven’t come to like CSX. Having modeled Conrail for so long, I looked for something different.. like the ability to paint engines in a variety of schemes besides solid blue (of course, the D&H did that too!)

I joined the Rochester Institute of Technology’s Model Railroad Club ("RITMRC") (http://www.ritmrc.org/) in college and between classes helped work on their layout. I remember around 2002 when the club voted to switch to DCC and I was one of two members who voted against it... I think because we had the largest roster of older Athearn engines to convert! Technology caught up with even me and I started having my engines chipped.

Then, I graduated college and moved to Albany, NY. Here, I discovered there was no local HO club to join and I drifted in my modeling focus. I built an N scale layout based on BN/UP’s "Camas Prairie" line in Idaho which hauled a lot of lumber and grain using first-generation Geeps and F-units. I liked the idea of researching towns along the line (albeit via the internet and books, not on field trips) and trying to mimic track arrangements. But, converting N scale engines to DCC is no fun (nor is working with tiny Micro-trains couplers) and switching in N scale wasn’t enjoyable for me. I still have that layout, partially finished, but a train hasn’t run on it in eight years.

Meanwhile, I began railfanning around my apartment and stumbled onto the Canadian Pacific’s line through Menands, NY. I had never seen CP trains before and they seemed foreign and appealing. Plus, my daily commute into and out of Albany, NY along I-787 (which runs parallel to CP's (former D&H's Colonie Main) line further exposed me to the area. Then, I learned about the D&H and decided that modeling it would be my next adventure. I became familiar with the old abandoned warehouses, closed stations, leveled yards, etc. on my daily commutes. It called out to me to model this area. And so despite having never seen the D&H when it actually existed, I jumped back into HO scale and started collecting equipment again.

There are definitely more scenic D&H locations to model than the 10 miles between Kenwood Yard and Cohoes that I choose, but I like urban scenery. I like scratchbuilding structures, and having trains snake between buildings, and switching operations. This area, mile for mile, offered a ton of modeling potential. And, it runs through the heart of my new adopted hometown.

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