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Canaan Union Station Track Plan

Minimalist Model Railroading Case Study #13

Canaan, CT

Capturing the Essence of a Turn of the Century Railroad Junction

Track Plan At A Glance

Layout Theme: Union Station
Layout Type: Permanent Layout
Size: 10'x11'
Scale: N Scale
Era: 1890s
Track: Code 40
Turnouts: No. 4
Min. Radius: 14"

Article by: Jim Spavins
Posted: June 21, 2016
Published: December 31, 2012

Located in northwestern Connecticut, Canaan used to be home to a busy junction of the Central New England Railway and the Housatonic Railroad at the turn of the century. These two railroads crossed at grade and the signature Canaan Union Station was constructed to serve the passengers of both lines at the crossing. Traffic on the two lines at the time was fairly busy and the unique station building design allowed a tower operator to control the movements of the two lines over the at-grade crossing in front of the station. This busy operation in the northwest hills of Connecticut would provide an interesting essence of railroading to model.

To capture the essence of the Canaan Union Station during the late 19th century, the essential features of this railroad should be:

This layout design consists of a single scene of the Canaan Union Station and two staging yards which provide traffic for the railroad. The staging yards have limited access through duckunders and it is not intended that operators would stay in these areas during operating sessions. The access is simply for track maintenance and to occasionally re-rail a car or two. The open area of the room by the door has space for up to two people at a time to view or operate the railroad. A third might be possible but it would become cramped rather quickly.

Presenting the Railroad

The scene should act as a panorama to the room with the backdrop reaching the ceiling to visually close off the staging areas from the viewing areas. A control area should be built somewhere comfortable in front of the station. A Wi-Fi camera system could be setup to view the staging track operations from the main viewing area - a decidedly modern touch to a turn of the century railroad. However, this could easily be designed to be covered and put away when the layout is simply set to continuous run mode for visitors.

Operating the Railroad

This is a layout meant to be enjoyed as a tower operator. There is not much switching to speak of other than aligning the various routes for the trains to travel. If desired, the duties of the operations could be split in two with one person running the trains and the other operating the tower or one person could run the whole show. The timetable for the operations during the period modeled would need to be acquired and an operation scheme developed around these traffic patterns. There is plenty of staging for both the Central New England and Housatonic with the ability to route trains to and from both staging yards.

Canaan Union Station

Canaan Union Station in the summer of 1998. | Photo by Jim Spavins.


Resource Use on the Railroad

This layout is going to be enjoyed by someone who enjoys the thrill of keeping a busy mainline rolling. There will be a lot of traffic, even in a short operating session. As such, there will also be a fair amount of equipment needed to fill out the railroad so the ability to acquire and prepare this fleet would also be a requirement for enjoyment of the railroad. The rest of the resources needed to capture the essence of this turn of the century railroad junction would be:

Time would be spent...

The Space would be used for...

Money would be spent on...

The Skills required to build the railroad are...

Prototype Resources

Minimalist Model Railroading Case Studies

Capturing the Essence of Railroading

Introduction - Minimalist Model Railroading

Case Study #1 - Claremont Concord Railroad
Scale: O Scale        Size: 12'x18'

Case Study #2 - CP Rail's Kicking Horse Pass
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 12'x18'

Case Study #3 - Trolley Museum
Scale: O Scale        Size: 2'x6'

Case Study #4 - N&W 611 Excursion
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 29'x44'

Case Study #5 - CS Industries
Scale: O Scale        Size: 10'x11'

Case Study #6 - Sono Tower
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 12'x18'

Case Study #7 - Boston and Albany Railroad
Scale: N Scale        Size: 29'x44'

Case Study #8 - Central Yard Engine Terminal
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 12'x18'

Case Study #9 - Iron Horse Railroad Museum
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 10'x11'

Case Study #10 - MM&R Timber Co.
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 10'x11'

Case Study #11 - Springfield Metro
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 10'x11'

Case Study #12 - South Station, Boston, MA
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 12'x18'

Case Study #13 - Canaan, CT
Scale: N Scale        Size: 10'x11'

Case Study #14 - Chas Chemicals
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 12'x18'

Case Study #15 - Westerly, RI
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 12'x18'

Case Study #16 - Connecticut River Drawbridge
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 29'x44'

Case Study #17 - Valley City Viaduct
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 12'x18'

Case Study #18 - Wood River Railroad
Scale: O Scale        Size: 29'x44'

Case Study #19 - Portable Shortline
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 29'x44'

Case Study #20 - Charter St. Steam Plant
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 8"x15'

Case Study #21 - Eastern Scenic Railroad
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 29'x44'

Case Study #22 - West Springfield Yard
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 29'x44'

Case Study #23 - Good Ol' 4x6
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 4'x6'