Sunday, October 18, 2009

Vasona Junction train register booth

Work's getting in the way of model building, so I'm just throwing out a picture of a project from last year: the Vasona Junction train register booth.

When running trains by telegraph messages, it was pretty common for a train to get the message "Don't pass this place unless train X has already passed there." That's easy if you're on the same track, for you'll see that train go by. What happens if the tracks branch so you wouldn't see it go past?

To answer such questions, railroads kept train register books at stations where trains started and stopped, and at all junctions. Trains passing these places would see a mark on their timetable indicating a train register book, so the train would stop and the conductor would mark down his train, the time he was passing, and his direction. He could also check the register to make sure any trains that had priority over his on the next stretch of track had already gone by.

Usually these train registers were in real stations, but Vasona Junction was stuck out in the middle of the prune orchards, and got so little traffic that the railroad didn't even bother to build a station here. Instead, they built a small booth that sat next to the tracks and contained the train register.

If you look at old timetables, you'll see that all the passenger trains stopped at Vasona Junction. They didn't do this because it was a popular location; I suspect they scheduled a stop only because they knew the trains would be stopping to sign the train register book.

My model will eventually be placed at Vasona Junction on my layout. I also keep a piece of paper handy as the "train register" and encourage the train crews to sign it as they go by.

It was a quick evening project to build. I try to keep a few of these small projects in mind when I'm stuck on what to do next. The body is styrene board-and-batten siding, with a wooden door and boarded up window. I suspect I didn't bother to cut out the door or window opening. The shingles are Campbell paper shingles. The entire booth is painted in the traditional yellow and green that SP painted most of the buildings that the public might see.

See this picture from "Railroads of Los Gatos" for a picture of the actual shack when it was standing along Winchester Blvd. just south of the Highway 85 bridge. Looking at those photos, I just realized I messed up the model; I only added one boarded up window when such windows existed on all three sides. Guess it's time to make another one!

[The Erie Lackawanna train register image came from another web site which I can't remember. I borrowed it when I gave a talk to some computer science friends on train order operation. Thanks to whoever I filched it from.]

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