Tuscarora Railroad

The Tuscarora Railroad is a 1:20.3 garden railroad located in suburban Denver, Colorado. The railroad is based on the East Broad Top RR which still operates today as a tourist line in Orbisonia, PA (south-central PA). Be sure to check out Garden Railway Basics , Kevin's book on building and maintaining garden railroads for information on how the TRR was built.

Location: Denver, CO

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Railfan Trip on the Tuscarora RR

It's been a while since new railfan photographs of the Tuscarora Railroad have come to light, but thanks to the publicity drawn to the TRR by the National Garden Railroad Convention, we've uncovered a few which warrant publication. These photos were likely taken between 1916 and 1920 or so, though the exact dates are not known. Given the variety of trains, these were shot on different days.

The first shows the morning passenger run at Neelyton. Passenger traffic was never particularly heavy on the TRR, so its trains usually consisted of two or three cars leased from the East Broad Top RR. Today's train consists of baggage #19 and coach #5. The baggage car handles mostly mail and milk with milk cans outnumbering passengers by a comfortable margin. The locomotive is 2-8-0 #5.

Presumably the same day, the same train, also at Neelyton. The stacks of timber will be loaded onto flat cars and shipTped to customers elsewhere along the line, or taken to Mt. Union where it will be transferred to standard gauge cars on the EBT's overhead crane, more famously known as the "timber transfer." Neelyton serves as the general offices of the Tuscarora RR, and today we catch a glimpse of the superintendent's Model T in the lot next to the station. Typically he walked to work, so its presence by the station must mean there's someone important coming in he needs to impress.

Here's #5 again, this time on the north leg of the wye at Neelyton, coming from Blair's Mills and turning to head west on the Shade Gap branch. In the foreground, the school at Neelyton. The depot/corporate office is pretty much right on the other side of the tracks.

Back at the depot, probably the same day as the earlier photo, but later in the day as there's now a flat car delivered to the lumber siding. The TRR seldom (if ever) ran mixed trains, so it's unlikely this flat car came in behind #5. The Neelyton Depot was originally built as a copy of the East Broad Top RR's Rocky Ridge depot, with the thought being that they'd build a separate freight depot. Management decided that was a bit too much, so they added a freight shed to the depot not but a few months after it was first completed.

This photo is unusual in that there's no hopper car spotted on the coal trestle, which gives the photographer a neat way to frame #5 pulling into Neelyton from Shade Gap. It can't be determined in this photo whether #5 was pulling freight or passenger duties on this day. TRR #4 was more typically used on the passenger runs, as she was just a little quicker (not that the schedule was hard to keep). 

Here's #5 again with a passenger train as it crosses over Trout Run. The schoolhouse is in the background. It's late summer judging from the lack of water in Trout Run. (Locals joke that they'd have called it "Trout Swim" if it had water in it on a routine basis.)

This is a rare view of the Locke Valley depot. Locke Valley was not much more than a flagstop; how it rated an actual station is something of a mystery. The depot was actually first built for Neelyton, but when the railroad decided to move its headquarters (such as they were) there instead of Burnt Cabins, they built a larger depot and moved this one up the line to Locke Valley. Gotta put it someplace, I guess...

TRR #5, this time on freight duties, eastbound coming into Shade Gap. The tank car belongs to the Atlantic Refining Co, and is a sister car to EBT tank 102.

TRR 2-8-0 #3 rounds the curve, approaching the Blacklog interchange track. This is where the East Broad Top and Tuscarora Railroad leave cars to be picked up by the other railroad, rather than tie up one of the EBT's tracks in their Rockhill Furnace yards.

TRR #3 passes the Blacklog water tower, which draws its water from nearby Blacklog Creek. In this photo, the spout of this tank has been removed, in favor of a water standpipe on the east end of the yard. Crews found it more logical to water their locos after turning on the wye, which put the locos on the opposite end from the tank. Crews would eventually replace the spout, giving crews flexibility with regard to watering their locomotives.

This photo shows #3 at the eastern water stand, though for some reason facing west, which was unusual. The Blacklog depot can barely be seen over the cab of the locomotive.

Here, TRR #3 is facing east, pausing in front of the depot. The photographer is standing near the doorway to the water tank, and the water standpipe would be on the other side of the locomotive, forward about 100' or so. In the background, you can see the tipple of Grove's Quarry, which supplied ganister rock to the fire brick refractories in Mt. Union.

The Beers & Green Woodworking shop proved to be a very steady customer for the TRR. Primarily a pin mill, turning out any manner of pins, spokes, and dowels, they also made barrel staves and other small wood fittings as needed. The TRR would deliver raw timber on flat cars, though the finished products would be carted from the shop across the street to the Blacklog depot to be shipped out.

The last photo is something of a rarity--a night shot at Neelyton. A photo like this wasn't a casual railfan undertaking, so it's unclear why (presumably) the railroad went through the trouble to set this up.

We hope you've enjoyed this latest batch of historic photos of the TRR in action. As always, if you come across others, we'd love to see them!


Anonymous Heinz said...

Hi Kevin
I've seen your article in Garden Railways Magazines. A wonderfull dream which shows what is possible doing finescale in the garden.
My point of interesst is your job on the trr 3. The Bachmann outside frame consolidation is not typical North America style and your changes like the new cab and the higher cow catcher make them fine. Let me know a little more about.
If I'll be the next in the USA I hooe to meet you.
Owner of the Oak Valley & Silver Lake Ry

December 31, 2015 at 1:07 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hi Kevin
I'm in the county of Somerset in the UK. I've just bought your book and consequently discovered your excellent blog. I see you've not added an entry for over a year now - can we look forward to more in future?
Best wishes,

September 9, 2016 at 9:18 AM  
Blogger Kevin Strong said...

Soon, I promise. I should probably just do a "what's in the workshop" update. I've been busy--two new diesels, a small Porter, and a new caboose (in addition to rebuilding some older box cars), but I haven't had opportunity yet to post them here.

September 9, 2016 at 9:42 PM  

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