Sunday, October 29, 2017

Just Scan It.

The biggest challenge for recreating a prototype railroad in miniature is finding enough information about the real thing. I've been lucky with the Vasona Branch. Maps of the railroad are common. Newspapers and city directory help me spot the location of businesses. The local historical associations have lots of photos. Folks who worked on the modern SP tell stories that suggest that operations in the 1930's sometimes matched operations decades later.

That doesn't mean there's enough information; sometimes I've had to search official archives (such as finding out about the rebuilt Hart gondolas from the University of Texas, El Paso's collection of SP files), or poke around California State Railroad Museum's collection for maps of Wrights.

Still, I'm always hoping there's more documentation out there, so I occasionally go searching on Google for new documents, or even check eBay for interesting railroad paper.

Last year, for example, I found an eBay auction for a document from the Ogden Union Railway and Depot, which I assume controlled the tracks around Ogden Union Station. I was hoping the document might give some hints about local switching in the 1930's. Instead, it turned out to be primarily an accounting document, setting the rules for how traffic from each of the owning railroads - the Southern Pacific and Union Pacific - counted towards upkeep of the depot area.

Now, although it's not too interesting for me, it might be interesting for others. There’s also a bit of detail about operations. There’s hints about the routes that trains take (discussing UP routes), lists of major industries on the industrial track and branches operated by the Ogden Union, and details about when the Ogden Union gets a switching allowance for handling a car.

So, just in case there's someone out there modeling Ogden, I've scanned the document and put it up on Flickr. You won't get to enjoy the crackling of cheap paper and mimeographed text, but it's one more bit of research available to someone interested in modeling Ogden, or understanding how a jointly-owned belt line might think about the railroads that own it. (The San Francisco Belt Line folks might check for any similarities with how the Belt Line operated.)

The document is “Rules Governing the Counting of Freight and Passenger Cars at Ogden Utah between the Southern Pacific Company, the Ogden Union Railway and Depot Company, and the Union Pacific Railroad Company. It’s dated June 27, 1938. It also includes sample register check forms for the railway.

Go check it out, and if you see anything interesting, let me know! And if you've found some odd document in your research for your own prototype, how about sharing it online so that a future researcher can discover new tidbits from it?

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