Saturday, January 30, 2016

Modeling Danbury - Signuature Structures, The Barns

Railroad Facilities at Danbury

A brief history of the railroad facilities at Danbury Connecticut will help to understand the origins of some of the signature structures that will be needed on this layout to accurately model Danbury in the mid 1950's era.

Danbury was served by two railroads in the late 1890's, The New York & New England RR and the Housatonic RR (originally the Danbury & Norwalk RR), both were absorbed into the New Haven Railroad system before the turn of the 20th century.

The NY & NE RR connecting Boston and other principal New England cities to lower New York State ran in an east-west direction thru Danbury. The Housatonic RR from a connection with the New Haven RR at South Norwalk CT ran north 23 miles to a stub end terminal at Danbury. Although the passenger stations and freight facilities of the two railroads were only two blocks apart, nether railroad had a connection to other at Danbury.

Around the turn of the century after both railroads had merged into the New Haven system, a loop track was installed linking the two former separate railroads together. This loop track connection now facilitating a more direct route for passenger and freight traffic from New York City to Pittsfield Massachusetts.

Danbury now had redundant passenger stations, a new larger brick station was built at the convergence of the new loop track and the former NY & NE main line. The station opened in 1903, serving both the north-south route and the east-west route. The former NY & NE station structure was moved across the tracks and the HRR station closed and eventually torn down.

The below turn of the century photo taken before the new brick station was built, shows the part of the Danbury yard and some of the signature structures that are being be modeled. The NY & NE station to the left will be moved across the tracks, turned counter clockwise 120 degrees and placed between what will become the Leahey's building in the 1950's and the two barns. Both the Leahy's building and the freight house will receive additions before the modeled era.

Click to enlarge photos

The Barns

In Danbury there were two barns just east of the station and somewhat elevated from track level on a small hill as seen in the photo above.The raised elevation makes them appear in so many photos taken at Danbury that they must be considered as signature structures and should be modeled for a complete and convincing prototypical look to the scene.

The photo below demonstrates how these barns are just always there in the background. Although partially obscured by trees, this photo shows how they appeared in the mid 50's era of the layout.

J.W. Swanberg Photo, Copyright NHRHTA Inc. Reproduced by permission

The Model Barns

Neither of the barns exist today, modeling them can only be done by referencing size, era specific color and condition from photos.

The large barn is one of the few structures on the layout that could be started with a kit. A Walthers Cornerstone barn kit # 3330 was used for the mild kit bash. The end windows were changed, the roof was shingled and the eves were modified to look more like the ones on the prototype. A scratch built cupola tops it off, although a weather vane needs to be finished and installed.

The small barn, or maybe originally it was used a carriage house, is a simple scratch build using Evergreen Styrene siding and Thichy windows. Using photos it was proportionally sized to the Walthers barn kit. The model barn was built using a 1930's photo for reference, the photo above surfaced after the model was built a shows that a window was added to the north side, this will also be added to the model to keep it period correct.

A stone wall and some vegetation was added as it appeared in the above photo to complete the mid 1950's model scene below.

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