Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Find an excuse for that caboose!
I love the modern era. I love big, heavy engines winding their way through the mountains along rail routes that are a century old or more. I love old, rusty switchers that may have seen better days but can still be seen moving freight in elderly boxcars along tired old lines between small prairie towns. And yes, I also love the graffiti that seems to find its way on nearly every piece of rolling stock these days. What I miss about past era's of railroading though is the caboose.
Let's face it, if we are trying to emulate the modern era, we really can't justify putting a caboose on the end of our trains. It just isn't done anymore. We've just gotta learn to accept this as just one of the few downsides to modeling the modern era and move on...
...or do we? A few months back, a fellow member of Trainlife showed off some video he had taken of a daily freight train near Fort Edward NY. This is a beautiful area for watching trains and actually has quite a few unique features that really grab me and had I known about this place sooner, I'd most likely have set my railroad here instead of in Washington.
If you study the area closely in Google Maps, you'll find a small yard located just outside of Fort Edward, leading from it is a long, winding branch line which follows the river north to Glen Falls. There are several interesting industries located here who are served along stub sidings and there is no passing siding anywhere along the way to allow the locomotive to run around the cars and push them to their appropriate spots. This then requires that the cars be shoved the 5.5 miles from the yard to their destinations. This looks like a job for a caboose!
I am not entirely familiar with the details of how this works, but essentially, for safety reasons, railroads have rules that say that if a train needs to be shoved for more than a mile, a "shove car" must be used as a platform for the trainman to stand and observe the maneuver from.
For my purposes, I'll be using a caboose to assist while shoving cars back down the main line from Ione to Newport. This is actually really helpful for me because my passing siding on my layout isn't actually long enough to allow an engine to run around an entire train. The caboose also offers a lot of operational interest in that it adds an additional element to consider while switching cars and building trains.
So there you go! The perfect excuse to add a caboose to almost any modern layout!