Right to Left: Scott works his scenery magic in Dock Yard. Neil runs Dock Yard during an Op Session. Scott pulls a passenger train past the yard.
Right to Left: Dock Yard gets a little scenery. Dock Yard also gets a Turntable. Dock Yard also gets the first painted packdrops!
Right to Left: The yard lead of Dock Yard in South Norwalk. Dave Ramos and Neil Henning work on track in Dock Yard, South Norwalk. Dave works on wiring the Dock Yard assembly before installation.
Right to Left: Switch machines and wiring completed on Dock Yard assembly. Dave shows off Dock Yard assembly installed. Special industry trackwork in South Norwalk. Freight house and Iron Works in South Norwalk.
Right to Left: The South Norwalk Irons works building, at the foot of Dock Yard, nearly completed. John and Tom work together in Dock Yard. The guys work on installing a new siding for the Iron Works.
Prototype: Dock Yard was a small to medium-sized yard complex on the Housatonic. I'm not sure how important it was in real life, but we do know it was an extensive collection of tracks and a riverside pier to load or unload freight from. Several industries in South Norwalk were served directly from the team tracks and freight house here and several more were located just north of its confines. Both the South Norwalk Iron Works and Hatch, Bailey & Co. were adjacent to the railroad's property, and the Norwalk Lock Co was also worked from tracks that extended from the body of the yard. The South Norwalk Gas and Electric works was located across the road from Dock Yard and was a heavy consumer of coal from the railroad. In the days before Natural gas was popular, gas was made from coal processing.
A large freight house was located here, its size most likely due to the practice of break-bulk that was common before 1880. Break-bulk meant that when freight moved from one railroad to another, it was unloaded from the originating railroad's car into a car of the next railroad. This practice was eventually eliminated by the rules of interchange implemented by the Interstate Commerce Commission, allowing loads to move from railroad to railroad without additional handling. The freight house would also have served as a place for customers without their own private sidings to send or retrieve freight. In the early years few industries had their own sidings!
With a dock built right next to the yard tracks, smaller freight boats could come upriver a ways and load or unload right here directly into boxcars, flatcars or gondolas, so loads were generated here too. Commodities might include lumber, poles, general merchandise -- pretty much anything that might move by boat.
Dock Yard also had its own turntable though I have not been able to determine if it had any coal service here for locomotives. I am considering adding a small tipple here anyway because it is badly needed, with no other coal service in the area that I've been able to find.
On the Model: Originally I planned to model the beautiful Victorian station the two railroads shared here (see the description of South Norwalk), and to model a live interchange with the New Haven. It became obvious over time that there was no need for the NH Interchange, and while a beautiful scene the station did nothing to help the railroad operationally. As part of a major design overhaul in early 2004, the previous plan was dropped, and more of a focus was placed on the industrial features of the city.
The plan for Dock Yard you see today is the result of that design process. Dock yard not only serves a need for more switching interest on the layout, but as it turns out it will perform a very important role as a safety valve for Wilson Point. The small yard at Wilson Point is too small to accommodate more than one freight train at once, and that train needs to be working the car floats. So the layout will be operated with Dock Yard being the end of mainline traffic at the south end of the railroad, with Wilson Point only being sent traffic that must go there. So most classification and marshalling will be done here at Dock Yard.
Dock Yard includes a train-length siding, making it a very important place to pass freight trains. Many of the passing sidings on the rest of the railroad are not long enough to pass long trains, and were only meant for passenger trains to use. A dispatcher will need to keep that in mind as he tries to find places to hide trains out on the railroad.
Go back to The Layout Plan