I took the above photo at White River Junction, Vermont, last week. In the classic Mears style, that fence and my shadow really aren’t helping my story.
I thought the orange paint on the rail joints was an interesting detail. Since not every rail joint is painted, something about these particular joints must make them special? I’m assuming that these joints mark the end of each siding, the point where you can safely park a train without fouling the other track. On past layouts I’ve used a “special” barrel, figure, or other detail to mark this same point on a layout. A little orange paint on my track to serve this same purpose would be a simple way to incorporate a prototypical detail to serve an equally practical purpose on the layout.
The greatest thing about a great assumption is the realization that it might not be correct. A couple of days later I was in St. Johnsbury, Vermont and saw similarly coloured rail joints. At first I was delighted to see them, then I noticed that while the first set seemed logical in their placement, the Washington County folks seemed to paint most of the joints. Perhaps in this second case it just makes finding the joint bars easier?