The Hemlock Central (legal name was Harbor Springs Railway) was a 2 ft. 6 in (30 inch) narrow gauge railway which consisted of 13 miles of track from Harbor Springs, Michigan to the lumber camps north of town. The railroad was primarily a lumber-hauling operation, although summer vacationing tourists paid 25 cents for a ride into the woods.
The legal name of the railway was the “Harbor Springs Railway” but it was nicknamed the Hemlock Central because of the great numbers of hemlock trees growing in the area. The name Hemlock Central stuck and was even painted onto some locomotives and rolling stock.
The Harbor Springs Railway was organized on January 7, 1901.The line was owned and operated by Ephraim Shay who invented the Shay Locomotive to haul logs more efficiently for his logging operation. Around 1877 he developed the idea of having an engine sit on a flat car with a boiler, gears, and trucks that could pivot. He worked a few prototype arrangements himself until working with Lima Locomotive Works of Lima, Ohio to a prototype engine in 1880. Shay applied for and was issued a patent for the basic idea in 1881. In 1888 Ephraim Shay moved to Harbor Springs on Lake Michigan. He patented an improved geared truck for his engines in 1901.
The March 21, 1902, Railway Age listed the “Harbor Spring Railway – Harbor Springs to Cross Village 20 miles. 3 miles completed 1901.” The line started in Harbor Springs at the harbor near the house and workshop that Ephraim Shay built. Early on it operated a route of eight miles (1903 ICC Report) to Race Mill. The line was extended later to Carter’s Mill. An ICC report of 1904 reports the line as 13 miles. Branch lines were constructed as needed to reach fresh stands of timber. The railway crossed the Grand Rapids & Indiana at Bay Street in Harbor Springs. A Michigan Commissioner or Railroads Report (December 1904) indicates a half interlocker appliance at the crossing.
Three Shay locomotives were used and all three were a product of Ephraim Shay’s own design. Although the railroad was officially started in 1902 locomotive #1 (BABY) was built in 1893. All locomotives were geared locomotives of the typical Shay pattern, but were unusual in that they had no frames, the boiler being the main structural component. The line was built and funded without debt (thanks to Shay’s royalties and licenses from his locomotive designs). A very light rail of 16 pounds per yard was used in the construction of the railroad.
The line ceased operations in 1910 and was dismantled in 1912. The company dissolved on January 17, 1912. It is interesting to note that a lawsuit was brought against the Harbor Springs Railway about that time, which the railway lost. An appeal was filed on January 11, 1912 and on December 17, 1912 the decision was reversed and the Harbor Springs Railway was victorious. A full account of the reasons behind the case can be viewed here.
I am always looking for layouts with character. While looking at many Gn15 layouts for ideas i came across this video for the Slate Creek Mining Railroad by Dirk Becker.
One of the first things that caught my eye was the great use of color and the attention to detail. According to Dirk’s web site, the layout size (minus fiddle area) is 0.90 meter (2.95 ft) wide by 0.60 meter (1.97 ft) deep.
I can sit for hours looking at old photographs. Especially the ones from old large plate glass negatives. The depth and clarity of these old photos lets you go deep into the image and see things you would not notice when taken in as a whole.
For an example, lets look into this photo of an old iron ore mining location somewhere in the Midwest (I do not remember where this was but i liked the detail when I found it). The main image is full of things happening to the point you can feel this is a busy place. The amount of modeling potential is great even when taken in as a whole. You can click on the image to see a larger view.
Lets look deeper now. Each image that follows is from the above image. Each is a scene that can be re-created in model form.
The best site for looking at old photos like these are the Library of Congress (LOC) Digital Collections and Shorpy. Shorpy uses the LOC images but makes searching them and viewing easier. They also provide an RSS feed so as new items are brought on-line a notification is sent out. I often use Shorpy as an index and then search the LOC for the high-definition version.
Looking for a prototype industry straddling a main line, try Chelsea Milling Company. Located in Chelsea Michigan, the company produces Jiffy brand mixes since the 1930s. Jiffy was created as the first prepared baking mix in the United States.
The company has been family owned and operated since it was founded. The company is now managed by Howdy Holmes, a former Indianapolis 500 and CART driver. The company employs about 300 workers and produces 1.6 million boxes of its products each day. The Jiffy corn muffin mix has a 90% market share and is the company’s biggest seller.
Most of the company’s products are handled, processed and produced in-house, which includes grain storage, the grinding of grains into flour, product mixing and box manufacturing. A significant amount of product ingredients are sourced from Michigan-raised crops, including “most of the wheat and some of the sugar. Some sugar and shortening is imported from Illinois and Indiana. The company offers free tours of its operations to the public. Over the last few years, Chelsea Milling has been expanding into the food service and institutional industries. They have also been upgrading equipment and processes to become more efficient. To learn more about the history of the Chelsea Milling Company, and the “JIFFY” Mix brand, there is a Virtual Tour video.
The Chelsea Milling Company straddles the old Conrail (ex: Conrail/New York Central/Michigan Central) main line between Detroit and Jackson. The line today is owned by Norfolk Southern and sees several Amtrak trains every day with service between Detroit and Chicago. Although the Chelsea Passenger station is standing and is in good shape, no passenger trains stop in Chelsea. Additional info on the operation along the line is available at http://knorek.com/RR/SAA/MichiganLine/MichiganLineIndex.htm
Chelsea was once home to the Glazier Stove Works who built a very large clock adjacent to the milling works and across the street from the passenger station. This clock tower is a major feature of Chelsea.
If someone wanted to model the entire Chelsea milling works to scale, it is approximately 1,800 feet (20 feet in HO) wide along the main line. This includes the passing siding, all spurs and the switching lead. The depth of the scene could be done in 360 prototype feet (less than 2 feet) if the main plant is done as a background building with the grain elevators on the front of the layout.
The entire scene of Chelsea would make an excellent subject for a Free-mo module. The scene will fit within the 2 foot width and could include the station and the clock tower. The milling company would be a great addition to operations. The facility information according to Norfolk Southern is:
Most grain is gathered within a 150 mile radius of Chelsea and is delivered by truck. Even so there is almost always a few grain cars on hand and the plant can also receive other bulk products (such as sugar and Shortening) by rail when required. With selective compression the Chelsea Milling Company can serve a small layout, free-mo module or even be a small Layout itself.
The WCMRRA has recently acquired new space in downtown Joliet. The new address is:
9 West Cass Street
The move to a new location was easier for the WCMRRA than most clubs because the entire layout is built from modules based on Free-mo and a few from the NMRA Module standard. The layout is currently on the main floor but plans are to move the layout to the lower level which will be even larger.
The club is open most Thursday evenings to walk-ins. Since they are right on the main street with large windows, they are hard to miss. Everyone I met at the club was very nice and willing to discuss what they were working on and future plans for the club. I am sure I will return for either a visit or one of their future events.
I want to thank everyone at WCMRRA for making me comfortable and feeling like one of the group during my visit!
I joined the NMRA on a trial membership back in 2012. The experience was uneventful. Because of where I live, I was placed in a division which met in another state and was not close to my home or work. I never attended a meeting and too much my surprise, I never heard from anyone in that division. Not a hello, welcome or anything else. I did receive the usual welcome package from the NMRA home office and copies of the magazine.
I did not feel that I was getting enough out of the membership and let it expire. Today, I think I made a mistake. I assumed the NMRA would provide me some service in my modeling endeavors. this year I became a member again and this time i reached out to a local division. In the NMRA you can attend any division, your just limited to voting in your division. I have also found that the more you give to the NMRA, the more you will receive from it. The NMRA is a two-way street.
This year I have signed up for a few meets in the fall and I am putting together a clinic for Dead Rail. My schedule is still tight and I have only been able to attend a couple monthly meetings but some new-found friends have kept me up to date on what has transpired. I feel more connected with the hobby and fellow modelers by participating and stepping up to the challenge.
This months feature layout is the Kostlee Brick & Stone RR yard by Paul Love. Paul attended the 2014 Small Layout Design Meet and displayed a 24” x 30” HO scale “Christmas tree stand” layout. This month we show off his variable length switching layout.
Paul has designed and built a portable layout that comes apart into two shelves for mobility. The 2 shelves are HO gauge and are 54″ X 12″ each. They can be joined by one of two bridges (short or long). The longest bridge is 27″ and can double as a fiddle stick. to run either shelf separately.
The layout era is set to approx 1906. Paul uses two Shay locomotives for slow and easy operation. The layout is strictly for switching. Paul claims there is a lot more detail to be added but it looks like he has a great start.
There is very little information on the prototype except that it was about seven miles long, had a dock at Jupiter and did not have any means for turning a locomotive or train. Equipment on the line was sparse and consisted of two locomotives, one to two combines and a couple freight cars (most likely flat cars). Only one locomotive was used at any time. The other locomotive was kept as a backup for the first.
Locations along the line include the dock at Jupiter, the stations of Mars and Venus, and a station at the end of the line at Lake Worth. The line could easily be modeled on a shelf of almost any length. I have created plans for a 24 x 60 inch layout.
The prototype was 3 foot gauge, but for this version I choose HOn30 (or OO9) to take advantage of low cost N scale mechanisms and PECO track. One conversion is available from Shapeways (description at http://www.shapeways.com/forum/index.php?t=msg&th=19678&s=0). This will create an acceptable stand-in for the prototype. You could easily use the commercially available HOn3 equipment, but an affordable 4-4-0 may be hard to acquire.
The railway was very simple when it started and ran the trains locomotive first when going south and backwards when going back north. A wye was added later but we will model the early operating scheme to keep things simple.
From a couple photos we can deduce a few additional assumptions about the line. Jupiter must have been the home base. The photo of Locomotive #1 with the children was most likely taken in Jupiter as they were the children of the store manager on the pier at Jupiter. We can also see in the photo that the locomotive sits on the middle of three tracks. It appears to be a small yard or passing siding. With only two locomotives and four to five cars at most three tracks would have been sufficient.
The dock in Jupiter and the yard will be the primary focus of the layout. In the plan, I included a passing siding and a storage track. The spare locomotive would be placed on the storage track while extra cars not currently used would occupy the siding.
In order to make the individual scenes in such a small footprint, I made the track plan bend back on itself and create two halves separated by a scene divider. The 24 inch width would allow up to a 20 inch but I went with a smaller radius. Equipment should be short to fit the sidings and the curves. The layout could easily be unfolded and made to fit a long narrow shelf of 12 x 120 inches. The plan can be setup for automated back and forth between the stops for a show setting.
Documentation about the railroad’s equipment is not clear. From the photographic record we know there were two small 4-4-0 locomotives and at least one combine. Some records claim the line had two combination passenger/freight cars and another one claims two passenger cars and three freight cars. For this version, we will allow room for one combination car and two flat cars. We know the line took ten years to build and as with most railroads the first car you need for hauling rails and ties is at least one flat car. The line was also known to have hauled supplies to build at least one of the large hotels on Lake Worth. We can see from the photos of the combination car, it did not have the capacity for such work.
With the warm climate of south Florida, it is most likely any railroad buildings like car sheds or engine house would have been more of an open-air type of structure. There is just a glimpse of what appears to be an engine house in the background of the photo of locomotive #1. Today there is no evidence of any structures and to date I have not found any photographs of any railroad specific structures other than the dock in Jupiter.
I recently had one of my articles (VREELAND RAIL) published in the print magazine, Model Trains International. It was especially nice since I did not submit the article; they found me and asked to re-print it. Unfortunately within a couple months of printing the article the magazine has shut down. It is another victim of the changing market.
I had never heard of the magazine until they approached me about the article. I managed to acquire a copy of the magazine with the article and found the magazine was all about small layouts. The Magazine was printed in the UK and showcased a number of plans and design concepts for small UK style layouts.
It is very sad to see a magazine loose the fight with the digital marketplace, and especially one that was specific to small layout design.
In model railroading, many times we have layout owners who have “fun” with their names, locations and purposes for their layout. You cannot be in this hobby very long without hearing names like the “Gorre and Daphetid” or the “Gum Stump and Snowshoe”
This month we will take a look at a Prototype that decided to use whimsical names for locations along it’s route and became know as the Celestial Railway.
Jupiter and Lake Worth Railway (aka The Celestial Railroad)
Southeast Florida during the early days (prior to the Florida East Coast Railroad) was not easily traveled. There were treacherous reefs outside of the barriers islands and the Intercoastal Waterway did not exist as it does today.
Northern newspapers advertised hunting and fishing trips into tropical Southeast Florida around Lake Worth and the West Palm Beach area. Steamboats would carry passengers down the Indian River and arrive at Jupiter at the far end. The passengers would then disembark and travel overland their destinations in and around Lake Worth. The problem with arriving in Jupiter by steamboat was that it was an “end of the line” settlement with little to offer tourists. Even in 1900 the local population of Jupiter Inlet was 145. Traveling on to Lake Worth, seven miles southward, meant bouncing in a hot, bumpy stagecoach.
So was born the Jupiter & Lake Worth Railway on July 4th 1889. Work on the roadbed is said to have began in October, 1880, but due to the limited cargo holds of steamships coming from Titusville, it took almost 10 years before the last rails were set in place.
The 3ft narrow gauge line linked the dock at Jupiter with Juno at the head of Lake Worth. The old site of Juno was near Oakbrook Square and PGA Boulevard. Present day Juno Beach is north of the original Juno by about seven miles. From here passengers boarded boats for the rest of their journey south.
There were no other settlements between Jupiter and the end of the line at Lake Worth when the railroad was built, but with high hopes, the railroad created the locations of Venus and Mars. The total railroad was seven miles in length. The stations from North to South were:
Jupiter (mile 0)
Venus (mile 3)
Mars (mile 5)
Juno (mile 7.5)
Officially the names were derived from Roman deities, but it did not take long for a British journalist in an article published in March 1893 in Harper’s New Monthly Magazine to label the line the “Celestial Railway” and the name stuck.
Nearly 100 residents showed up for the grand opening and given a free train ride from Jupiter to Juno which took a half-hour. Once the train reached Juno it had to go backwards the whole seven and a half miles since there was no way for it turn around. It enjoyed six years of service hauling freight and passengers.
Operations on the line were very simple. There were no turning tracks, so the locomotives always pointed towards Juno, forcing trains making the return trip to go in reverse. Fare was rather high for the time, being 10 cents per mile, a total of 75 cents one way. At it’s height the line ran four trains daily, except on Sunday when only two trains were run in the afternoon. The line ran a flag stop service along the line as well.
The railroad had only two locomotives, both were Baldwin locomotives with 4-4-0 wheel arrangements. The line operated with two combines, two passenger cars, two flat cars and one boxcar. Freight traffic headed north would consisted of coconuts, pineapples, dates, citrus, sugar cane, turtles, fish and early vegetables. Southbound traffic included building materials and merchandise.
Ben Hill Doster, moved his family to Jupiter, Florida about 1894 to help his recently widowed sister, Mrs. Gus Miller, on her homestead there. Mr Doster ran the store on the pier that was built for the Celestial Railroad. The pier was built on pilings over the river. The tourists coming down the river by steamer always found their way into his store, and he became a sort of first official greeter for the community. He met many wealthy and distinguished people. At one time President Cleveland and his party, en route to Palm Beach, stopped briefly and had dinner at the little hotel before continuing on.
The materials for the Royal Poinciana Hotel in Palm Beach were transported on Celestial Line, but Henry Flagler (owner of the Florida East Coast Ry) felt that they had charged him too much for their service. He tried, unsuccessfully, to buy the line, so when his Florida East Coast Railway tracks were laid they bypassed Juno.
When the Florida East Coast Railway finished it’s line to the area in February 1894 the need for the steamships and the Celestial Line ceased to exist. The Jupiter and Lake Worth Railway was abandoned by June 1896. Boats were eventually able to make the entire journey without the aid of rail or coach when a canal was dug between the two waterways that the railroad connected; this is now part of the Intercoastal Waterway.
The rails and right-of-way remained where it was until the 1930s. One wooden tie was found along the former right-of-way as late as 1998, and was donated to the town of Juno Beach. A portion of the old right-of-way was used for U.S. 1. Today, over 100 years after the line’s abandonment, the flat grading of the former right-of-way can still be seen in the northeast corner of the Juno Dunes Natural Area
More information on the exact route of the line can be found in the book Retracing the Celestial Railroad by Geoffrey Lynfield. The book was written in 1982 and can be viewed on line at http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00101446/00044/5j.