CP Executive train in Albany

CP Executive train in Albany

Monday, September 14, 2015

Area Overview: COLONIE LIQUOR (MP 3.8 - 4.0)

MP 3.8 through 4.0

Moving North a bit and skipping some areas of Menands (which I may come back to later), the next area that I want to model I nicknamed “Colonie Liquor” even though there are three interesting industries in the area. This is going to be the first section I actually build and I have already drawn up full size HO scale plans of the area including most of the buildings. 

Though the track schematic I drew up is from MP 2.8 - 3.8, the area I am focusing on is MP 3.8 – 4.8. Thus, the left portion of the diagram likely won’t ever be built. Still, I am planning on devoting a full seven feet of my layout to this section because there are lots of interesting buildings to go here. I may even increase it to eight feet just to give it all some room. 

In 1984, the dual main line had been reduced to a single track with the western one pulled up and a gravel maintenance road left. Just after the Route 378 overpass, several industries cropped up on the eastern section of the line. A single siding broke off the main line and from it two additional spurs curved away into the first two sidings. The parallel track eventually ended at the last industry.

In order from the switch off the mainline and working south (left), they were:

Southworth Tractor and Machinery Co.
Here is an industry that was still receiving boxcars in 1984, though the condition of the track suggested that it wasn’t a high-volume customer. The track (which still exists today in the undergrowth) came off a switch just after the one from the main line and broke sharply into a curve that ended at a concrete loading dock. This is a really neat feature and one that usually seems unrealistic when I see them on layouts. I have no idea what was shipping in or out at the time but until proven otherwise in addition to boxcars I will send in an occasional flat car of tractor loads. On the schematic it is marked as #8, with the loading dock just to the left.

This business may or may not have received rail shipments in 1984 but the track was so old and rusty that I wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t. Even if it did, I am not quite sure what it would have received. From my research it looks like a track ran parallel to the three buildings. Agway consisted of three buildings, including a Quonset hut in the middle! All the buildings still exist, but for space concerns may only model portions of the buildings and have the sides that face away from the track end at the end of the layout. I definitely want to model at least a portion of the Quonset hut.

Colonie Liquor
This appears to be two huge buildings with one that featured a loading dock set at a 45-degree angle to the rest of the building. The track actually curved around it, and there was just enough room for a boxcar to fit. I plan to compress this down in size to fit but that loading area will be interesting. And, it will take some careful switching to properly spot a car without overshooting the area and crashing into the bumping post. I plan to model the first building which had the loading dock but not the one that is more south, as that will just take up space and not really contribute anything to operations.

But there’s more…

Just across the tracks is the St. Agnes Cemetery, though there is a wall of trees between it and the railroad. I imagine that the cemetery wanted to isolate itself from the trains and this was a pretty effective method of doing so. For modeling, I plan to plant a row of trees with occasional breaks in which scenes of a cemetery will be visible. 

The south end of the layout will feature the train disappearing behind Colonie Liquor and perhaps running under another highway bridge. I generally hate modeling highways as the cars appear static but here it might not be so bad. 

Just north of Cemetery Avenue, the second abandoned trackbed becomes more mainline track. Apparently, Guilford had only pulled out to that area by 1984 and so the rest of it heading north is just completely overgrown. A pair of ties, crossed over and under the rails, marked the end of the line. I will try and include this detail too, though it may mean modeling a short section of double track which won’t visually match up with the next area. Sort of like an NTrak module that doesn’t fit with the others. We shall see.

My favorite spot to watch trains in Albany is Ganser Smith Park, marked as #1 on the schematic. This little park has a pavilion, baseball diamonds, plenty of parking, and lots of trees. In law school it was a quiet place to park and read my textbooks while seeing the occasional train. I love it there, and it is a shame that it won’t fit on my layout. Perhaps I will find another way to work it in.

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