Monday, June 30, 2014

Setting the Era

Conversations with local enthusiasts who had previously toured the line and done other research revealed that the majority of rail service ended soon after a derailment near the south end of the line in the early 1980s (1983?).  The report is that a car was destined for Turner UniDrive Company.  My speculation is that new owner Burlington Northern was probably looking for a good reason to curtail service.

At least Schutte Lumber continued to receive rail service into the mid-90s.  As reported by local observers, they received shipments of large beams or trusses to the spurs on the southeastern edge of the property.  This required some amount of tail track that crossed 31st street.  It isn't yet clear when service to Pacific Mutual Door or other industries in the middle section ended.

This sets an upper limit on prototype modeling.  Of course, one must choose between one side or the other of the 21st of April 1980 -- either the beginning or end of time, or -- simply put -- whether to use orange or green with the white:

Photo Credits:
Frisco #306, a Carl Nelson shot borrowed from
BN #154, a Jim Shepard photo borrowed from the Don Ross Collection

I've always been interested in the 1970s era of railroading as that's when things started to get "interesting".  There were a handful of developments in the 1960s, but larger railcars were the norm in this decade and the what I call the "great oxide red / brown fleet" of the 1950s and earlier was disappearing.  It was also a challenging time as several upheavals took place: Amtrak, Conrail, to name a few.  Deferred maintenance was increasing.

Post-Staggers Act railroading in the early 1980s is also appealing.  From a model perspective, its a bit easier to find appropriate rolling stock, but in the case of this branch line and the industries it served, it was about to be history as trucks really began to take over.