N - PRR Catskill division - Erik Wejryd

This is a trackplan representing a part of a freelanced extension of the PRR from Wilkes-Barre PA to Schenectady NY.

The PRR wanted - at least in my history writing - to gain more traffic from the New England area. At the end of the 19th century, all bigger cities in the northeastern quadrant of USA had a connection to PRR apart from Boston. The Catskill division was completed in the first decade of the 20th century, while the tunnel-connection to Manhattan and Long Island was made, in a coordinated attempt to reach further northeast. In Schenectady yard facilities were shared with B&M, that also had interrest in the construction of the link to PRRs mainlines.

A part of this division - from East Branch by Delaware river to Arkville - was actually built by Delaware & Northern. There is also a branchline from Grand Gorge Jct to Oneonta, where it connects to D&H. This railroad too existed as Ulster & Delaware that streched from Kingston by Hudson river (NYC), passed Arkville and Grand Gorge and ended in Oneonta. It was incorporated into NYC in the 30's. In my freelanced world, D&N was purchased by PRR together with Ulster & Delaware's track Arkville - Grand Gorge - Oneonta (the other half of U&D ended up as NYC-track). The rest of Catskill division was built de novo by PRR.

Margaretville serves as a small classification yard for locals on the Oneonta branch and turns to Arkville where the chemical industry (fertilizer) and the NYC-interchange have the busiest spurs. In Margaretville there is a freight house, a team track and a spur to the agricultural co-op, that has a grain elevator and a warehouse that recieves food and produce and is sending cauliflower during the season.

There is also a branch to Pooncha (extending from the yard lead) where there is another grain elevator and a small factory for locks and safes.

The part I'll be building is Margaretville, Arkville and maybe Stamford on the Oneonta branch. The rest is represented by half-hidden staging (Schenectady and Wilkes-Barre), a fiddle-yard (Oneonta) or on-layout-staging (the NYC interchange and the Pooncha-branch). The layout is set in the late 1950's after the transition to diesels. Sidings and staging on mainline allows at least loco + 10 40'cars + cabin. The Oneonta branch maybe will allow slightly shorter trains. I will use Peco code 55. Medium turnouts on main and sidings, short ones in yards. Minimum curve radius is 12''.

The trackplan in full size is attached. I have the possibility to insert an 8' x 1' section between the staging and the fiddle yard, so it's possible to build Stamford on the Oneonta branch too. This part will be fairly straight forward I think, so I haven't put so much effort into the track arrangements here yet.

The trains i plan to run is something like:

  • 1 or 2 inbound freights from Schenectady and Wilkes-Barre, terminating in Margaretville in the morning and going back in the evening.
  • 1 turn Margaretville - Oneonta fiddle yard and back. This won't be able to handle all the traffic to the chemical plant in Arkville.
  • 1 turn Margaretville - Arkville and back.
  • 2 through freights - one in each direction - that might stop in M for urgent pickups/setouts. These might pass the layout several times if desired.
  • The Pooncha-turn is represented by the Margaretville-switcher bringing the cars on the yard lead in the morning and heading away last thing on the op-session.

A few things bother me:

  • The staging is on a 1,5  - 2 percent grade and the turnouts might end up in vertical curves which might be a problem (or what do you think?)
  • Should I include one more yard track?
  • It's a drawback that the trains pass the Arkville scene twice, but I can live with that.
  • The lack of passenger traffic. Maybe I'll include a pike-sized one running from south to Oneonta and back. Staging capacity is limited, though.
  • Is the whole thing believeable??? Would there be a classification yard in such a place and is it ok to include a freight house in this small town? I'm from Sweden with quite vague knowledge about North American railroading and geography, trying to pick up what I can from magazines etc. Please share your comments!!





Catskill trackplan.JPG172.87 KB
Catskill PRR map.JPG158.08 KB