Track Plan At A Glance
Layout Theme: Modern Shortline
Layout Type: Permanent Layout
Scale: HO Scale
Track: Code 83
Turnouts: No. 6
Min. Radius: 24"
Article by: Jim Spavins
Published: February 21, 2017
As I've mentioned in some of my earlier trackplans articles, my other interest outside of model railroading is baseball (see Stadium Central, Baseball in Paradise). Last summer I had the opportunity to attend the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Cooperstown, NY. When we arrived early in the morning for the event, the parking lot we were directed to was located next to a rail line. A little research revealed that this was the end of the former Delaware and Hudson Cooperstown Branch - which is operated today by the Cooperstown and Charlotte Valley Railroad. As we wandered down Main Street on the way to the Clarke Sports Center for the ceremony past the small downtown area completely devoted to baseball, my brain began to wander thinking about how I could combined my interest in baseball and model railroading.
My first thought was to figure out what kind of industries which were baseball related that could be served by rail. A few ideas that jumped to mind were baseball equipment companies (bat, glove, baseball factories), stadium construction materials (infield dirt, sod, concrete, stadium seating), game day needs (food - like hot dogs, Cracker Jacks, peanuts), and souvenirs (baseball cards, apparel). After a little Google research when I returned from the Cooperstown adventure, I did find that some of these industries were served by rail in an earlier era. For example, two major baseball card manufacturers had facilities served by rail (see note 1). With a little creative license, a few of the other industries could be served by rail on a model railroad.
The next step was to figure out a geographic region to set a baseball themed layout. Cooperstown seemed like an obvious choice as one end of the railroad since the town's name is synonymous with baseball. I started to think about what other places in the country also have a special connection to the game. I pulled up Google maps and started looking at the areas nearby Cooperstown to see what might make some sense both from a railroad perspective as well as a baseball perspective. As I scrolled south, I ran into Williamsport, PA. This small city located just north of I-80 is home to the Little League World Series each August. The town is also served by rail and, through a circuitous route, at one time was connected to Cooperstown. For a freelanced model railroad with a baseball theme, using these towns as the two bookends of the railroad works out perfectly as Williamsport is where the baseball dream starts and Cooperstown is where it is fulfilled. Thus, the basis for the Cooperstown and Williamsport Railroad was born.
Around the Railroad
With this information in hand, I began to sketch some ideas and developed the plan seen at the beginning of the article. While the name of the railroad is based on real locations - the layout is freelanced. The railroad features a continuous loop which includes five baseball themed industries set in the northern Pennsylvania and southern New York inspired scenery. The layout space is a garage size basement area which is 12'x18' with one side open to the rest of the room. The base of operations on the railroad is a visible, on-line staging yard named Williamsport. Here, three trains would be staged at the start of an operating session (two freights and a passenger train). Heading out of the staging yard "north," the first stop is the Diamond Clay Industries branch which serves a clay mine specializing in material for baseball fields. The branch would have its own switcher to handle moving the loads and empties around. Continuing "north," the line winds over the Susquehanna River and into the town of Milford - home of the Milford Mitt company which receives box cars of leather. Behind this factory is The Helmet Company which receives covered hoppers of plastic pellets. As the mainline works around the corner, the railroad enters the city of Cooperstown. The first industry is the Cooper Card Company which manufactures baseball cards. The industry receives boxcars of paper and cardboard as well as tank cars of ink. Working around the bulb, the Elysian Stadium (see note 2) provides a grand visual clue as to the inspiration of the railroad. The Main Street of Cooperstown lines the railroad tracks behind the train station. Following the lead of the Louisville Slugger factory, the Empire State Bat Company is also located in a downtown setting and receives box cars and bulkhead flat cars of bat billets ready for turning.
Operating the Railroad
The layout is setup to be run with up to five operators for a leisurely one to two hour operating session. Four operators would each be assigned a train and the fifth operator would serve as dispatcher. Obviously, with fewer people, the schedule can simply be slimmed down to match the number of operators and with the continuous loop design, trains could just be set to run when visitors stop by for a visit.
WCN-1 - Williamsport-Cooperstown Northbound Local Freight
The northbound freight train originates in the Williamsport Yard and heads "north." This local would first switch Diamond Clay Industries, then switch Cooper Cards, and finally switch The Helmet Company. The local then terminates in the Williamsport Yard.
CWS-2 - Cooperstown-Williamsport Southbound Local Freight
The southbound freight train originates in the Williamsport Yard and heads "south." This local would depart and pass by The Helmet Company and head into Cooperstown to switch the Empire State Bat Company. The local would then continue "south" and switch the Milford Mitt company. The local then terminates in the Williamsport Yard.
Cooperstown Express - Williamsport-Cooperstown Passenger Turn
The Cooperstown Express is a passenger turn running between the Williamsport Station and Cooperstown Station. This can be an optional train if there aren't enough operators.
Diamond Clay Industries - Diamond Clay Industries Industrial Switcher
The Diamond Clay Industries industrial switcher moves the loads and empties around on the branchline. This operation can be optional if there aren't enough operators.
- History of Fleer Baseball Factory >
- Photo of Topps Factory on Railpictures.net >
- Cooperstown and Charlotte Valley Scenic Railroad >
- Baseball in Paradise Essay >
- Origins of Baseball (Wikipedia) >
1. The Fleer Factory - located outside of Philadelphia - was served by rail as well as the Topps factory in New Jersey.
2. Today there is a stadium named "Doubleday Field" located near downtown Cooperstown. For those who follow the history of the origins of baseball, the Abner Doubleday myth as the creator of baseball has largely been debunked. Instead, the stadium name is a nod to Elysian (Paradise) Field in Hoboken, NJ, where the first documented baseball game was held.
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.