Thursday, July 25, 2013

Industry Listings

Sometimes the internet will surprise you.  On what started out as a search to find information for my last detailed industry post on Columbia Bedding, I discovered a listing of industries for the Kansas City area published by the CGW.

The source is a website dedicated to the Chicago Great Western.  From that source I trimmed and saved both the full Kansas City Listing and the subset of that mentioning service by the SLSF.  Now, not all of the industries on this list will apply to the Fairgrounds Branch, but it is still a worthy reference.

Several of the industries that I've profiled on this blog are listed in there, but unfortunately, the information does not help narrow down any dates.  I'm guessing that the CGW industry listing presented there is an all-time compilation from many sources or a transcription of a single publication, just without the date.

Another source for industry information is the OPSIG Industry Database.  There is some era appropriateness information included with this data source.  A cross reference of it to the CGW source mentioned above pegs Battenfield Oil & Grease and Columbia Bedding in 1965.  The source quoted there is "CGW", so it is likely that the OPSIG database includes all of the records from this same CGW source.

Speaking of the OPSIG, I highly recommend becoming a member.  I'm an online-only member myself and for $7.00/year, it's a great deal!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Colulmbia Bedding

This post remains in the archive to document the Fairgrounds Branch industry research journey.  I've since learned that Columbia Bedding was an active business on Roanoke Road since at least 1949 but closed in 1962  In the span of time since the company has been out-of-business, the property ownership has changed hands and the buildings they once occupied have been rearranged.  In my modeled era of the 1970s, Motor Parts Distributors occupied these buildings.

Columbia Bedding had its spot in Fairgrounds branch history confirmed by this Sanborn Map source.  One oddity is that these businesses were assigned addresses on Roanoke Rd despite them being east of the Frisco right-of-way.  Columbia Bedding was apparently a precursor to today's more-well-known Simmons Bedding Company, though I'm only gleaning that from the snippet that Google shows in search results.  The link referenced doesn't retrieve any content, possibly because a login of some kind is needed.  To quote the Google: "......2003 Changed name from Columbia Bedding, April 29, 2003 LLC to ..."

Friday, July 19, 2013

The "Why" of Railroad Modeling

One of the great aspects of this hobby is that each individual can choose where on the various spectrum they want to be.  You can be an extremely serious modeler of equipment and simply like to watch trains run "in circles", or a savvy student of operations bent on recreating the feel of the prototype to the fullest with un-weathered equipment spotted at cardboard boxes vaguely resembling buildings.  OK, those are extreme examples and presumably the serious operator would get around to weathing the cars and building actual structures.

Personally, I fall more towards the railroad modeling end of the overall spectrum and seek to recreate the operations of the prototype.  There are an infinite number of ways to achieve that, ranging from basement-sized empires recreating a many miles of territory down to smaller layouts focusing on just a few industries.

The smaller has become very appealing lately.  The trend began for me with the design and construction of the Beer Line (that was published in Nov 2011 Model Railroader).  Even though the Beer Line soon grew to three times the size shown in the magazine and became a representation of the entire six-mile branch line, it still feels small in the scope that it sets out to capture.

I hope to achieve the same with this Frisco spur.  At less than two miles in overall length and with just a handful of industries, it feels achievable.  I'm probably still a ways off from building (space acquisition), but the research has been just as much fun -- figuring out "how it used to be".

Along the way I keep coming across more and more great ideas that follow this same theme.  The most recent I discovered was a series of feature-length articles by Mike Cougill of OST Publications.   I recently read Vol. 5 about switching operations and it's message about studying the prototype, understanding the  "why" behind its operations and using that as an input to model railroad design is a much more elegant presentation of my own thoughts.  Go read it.  When I get to more building, I'll also probably get a copy of the book on detailed track construction.

Also top-notch is Lance Mindhiem's Blog.  His thoughts and writings have been a big influence on and reinforce the way I think about building something that I can "finish" and derive maximum enjoyment from.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Mid-July Update

Research continues as I find time, though that's always harder in the summertime.  Nevertheless, with the help of fellow modelers and historians from the wesbite, I've been able to get some more information on Battenfeld Grease and the line's history.  I updated the original post to reflect the new findings, plus created a Google Map to provide some spatial relation for the items discussed in these posts.

I'll continue researching the histories of the various industries in an attempt to frame a modeling period for the line.  I've traditionally been interested in recreating the mid-to-late-1970s and much of the equipment I already own dates to that era.  Industrial branch lines like these were in fast decline following the Staggers Act of 1980 that, through deregulation of railroads, allowed for making the case for abandonment easier.  Also, many cities experienced a decline in the urban industrial fabric as companies either consolidated, moved to the suburbs or went out of business altogether.

That being said however, there are some plausible opportunities for stretching the modeling window a bit to include some industries that may have not survived into a particular era.  I'm cautioning myself in this arena though, since modeling "too far out of the box" doesn't appeal to me -- forcing rail service upon something that's no longer economically feasible destroys the plausibility.

So I might consider modeling a decade in general, though, if I were to span the year 1980, I'd have to choose between orange-and-white (Frisco) and green-and-white (Burlington Northern).   Or even a green patch over orange-and-white?  Hmm...

Monday, July 1, 2013

Fairgrounds Branch Early History

Some interesting history regarding the Farigrounds Branch came to my attention while researching industries. It was originally constructed  in 1873 by the Kansas City, Memphis & Mobile RR, which was later purchased by the KC & Southern RY and finally by then the KC, Osceola & Southern RY.  South of 31st. St. the road started but never finished the Westport Tunnel. The KCM&M also graded the line from Mill St. to Dodson, this line was later built as the KC Public Service Co., today's Trolley Track Trail. John Blair's KC&S intended to use the line as their entrance into KC but the cost of completing the tunnel & the heavy grade was too much so the KC&S built north from Dodson to Coburg instead. After the KCO&S was purchased by Frisco & as industry around Rosedale developed Frisco used the 29th St. Line to reach Coleman Highlands, but instead of completing the tunnel they built around it.

The tunnel was later converted to an entrance for an underground office park.  In earlier research, I'd noticed topo maps had shown this area to be largely undeveloped with little mining symbols on it.  The development of that underground office park and reuse of the abandoned tunnel connects a few dots on this area, how it became the way it was, and why railroad tracks were built that way in the first place.