Thursday, December 29, 2016

Modeling Danbury - Signature Structures, Danbury Freight House

Hat City

Danbury Connecticut earned the nickname "Hat City" in the 19th century from the hatting industry located there. Thirty hat factories were producing five million hats annually in the late 1880's and by the turn of the 20th century Danbury hatters were producing 25% of the finished hats and 75% of hat bodies manufactured in America. Most of these hats would be shipped to consumers by rail warranting a substantial freight transfer house in the city.

The Freight House

The origins of the Danbury freight house that is modeled on the layout most likely dates back to just before the turn of the 20th century when the two railroads serving Danbury, New York & New England and Housatonic railroads, were merged into the New Haven Railroad system. In the turn of the century photo below the original single story portion of the freight house is visible as are the beginnings of the yard to the right.

Click to enlarge photos

The below photo taken after Armistice in 1918 of the welcoming home of troops to the Danbury area shows that the freight house now has a two story office/freight combination addition to the west end. Also note that the yard has expanded and in the distance a round house and shop have been erected.

Copyright NHRHTA Inc. Reproduced by Permission

Early 1900's photo of the east end of the freight house.

East end 1930.

Courtesy Bob's Photo

West end 1947, brick chimney indicates a central heating system has be added.

Courtesy Bob's Photo

West end 1970's Conrail era.

Peter C. McLachlan photo

Although not seen or modeled in detail on the layout this is how the track side of the west end appeared in 1934.

Courtesy Bob's Photo

Imposing Model Structure

The size of the Danbury freight house will be an imposing model structure on the layout. The New Haven valuation map and the 1970's aerial photo below show the size of the structure in relation to the surrounding yard and buildings.

In the below map the freight house is outlined in red, the dock in tan and the concrete topped dock with ramp in yellow.

A look at building the freight house model pictured below in the next post.

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