Track Plan At A Glance
Layout Theme: Shortline
Layout Type: Permanent Layout
Scale: HO Scale
Track: Code 70
Turnouts: No. 5
Min. Radius: 24"
Article by: Jim Spavins
Published: January 31, 2017
Continuing with the Rhode Island shortline theme from two weeks ago, another railroad which I've always had an interest in modeling is just up the line from the Wood River Branch - the Narragansett Pier Railroad. This eight mile shortline connected to the outside world at Kingston, RI (today a part of the Northeast Corridor) and headed east to Narragansett Bay serving a variety of industries along the way.
History of the Railroad
Founded in 1868, the Narragansett Pier Railroad was constructed between Kingston, RI and Narragansett Pier, RI, and operated until 1981. The primary reason for the railroad was to serve a pair of textile mills built in Peace Dale and Wakefield operated by the railroad's owners - the Hazard family. This was the primary industry - along with passengers - generating traffic for the railroad for most of the first 75 years of the railroad's existence. As textile manufacturing moved out of New England in the 1960s, the textile mills in Peace Dale and Wakefield were closed and the railroad began to supplement its traffic with a variety of smaller industries built along the line handling fertilizer, fish, heating oil, salt, and lumber.
The layout at the beginning of the article is meant to represent the line towards the end of its operations - in late 1960s and early 1970s after the mills had closed. At this time, the line had been cut back to Wakefield and a small fleet of diesels (a GE 44-tonner and Vulcan 65-tonner) handled switching duties on the railroad.
Fortunately for folks interested in modeling the line, more and more photographs from this period are surfacing online and a number of articles have been written about the railroad in a variety of magazines. These articles even include scale drawings of some of the railroad structures. In addition, much of the railroad's right of way has been converted to a rail trail which can be biked or walked for some firsthand research into the scenery and topography along the line. (Links and Resources are provided below.)
Around the Railroad
Starting just east of the interchange with the Penn Central at the Kingston, RI, train station, a short passing siding and a fertilizer plant are located at the beginning of the layout. A typical operating session would start with a cut of cars left on the siding here to be spotted at various industries around the railroad. Working around the railroad from the fertilizer plant, the mainline curves 180 degrees and arrives at a fish plant located between Kingston and Peace Dale. The plant would receive and send out refrigerator cars filled with the latest catch. From here, the mainline winds through the Rhode Island countryside and then arrives in Peace Dale - the headquarters for the railroad. Located here is the enginehouse and shop facility plus a few industries. A salt unloading facility is located on the mainline on a trestle over Kingstown Road in downtown Peace Dale. In addition, a team track is located across from the Peace Dale train station and a heating oil distributor is also located in town. The final industry served by the railroad is a lumber yard in Wakefield at the end of the line.
Prototype Resources - On the Web
- Wikipedia History >
- Narragansett Pier Railroad Photos on NERailPhotos >
- Narragansett Pier Railroad Photos on RRPictureArchive >
- Narragansett Pier Railroad History >
Prototype Resources - Printed Publications
- Book - A Short Haul to the Bay: Narragansett Pier Railroad by James N. J. Henwood, 1969
- Book - Railroads of Rhode Island by Frank Heppner, 2012
- Model Railroader Magazine - Narragansett Pier Railroad - September 1974, pg. 37-43
- Railroad Modeler Magazine - A Shortline to Wakefield - September 1974, pg. 26-37
- Trains Magazine - The Longest Shortline in the Smallest State - May 1963, pg. 46-48
- Railroad Model Craftsman Magazine - The Depot at Peace Dale - pg. 27-29
For Track Plan Tuesday's, I am digitizing all of my old track planning notebooks and sharing the designs here on the website. To see all the plans, visit the track plan home page at: jimspavins.com/jimstrackplans.