November on the Mount Herbert spur

Whether as part of the My Railfan Five challenge or in one of the many terrific conversations I’ve enjoyed being a part of on the subject of inspiration and the modeller I’m starting to really understand how I relate to each of the prototypes I’m attracted to. More so, I’m starting to get a real sense of those that have stories I’d like to interpret using an actual model railway. Chief among these is my beloved west end of the Murray Harbour subdivision and, in particular, the Mount Herbert spur. Another part of this story I’d like to tell and share is what I know about car movements over the railway during the mid-1970’s. I’ve often found myself saying that I’d like to try my hand at a layout set during the late fall and right around the time of year it is currently. I was able to feed all of these muses this week while walking the Mount Herbert spur.

Against a sea of gold and brown we are still treated to threads of green and red. When else, but during fall, are we treated to a display like this?

Against a sea of gold and brown we are still treated to threads of green and red. When else, but during fall, are we treated to a display like this?

Planning this in terms of layout design really demands going further than simply placing track and to feed my creative soul I want to understand the land the line ran through as much as the trains themselves. With camera in hand I burned off several dozen more photographs to capture how the landscape looks at this time of year. I really haven’t a clue how to approach modelling a scene like this but I think it will be fun to try.

Categories: PEIR Murray Harbour Subdivision

8 replies

  1. Funny, late October to early November is exactly the time of year I’d like to model as well.

    • What can I say: Great minds think alike.

      Apparently, so do our’s!

      Seriously though, it’s a superb time of year. My favourite. I’m looking forward to the modelling challenges and learning new techniques. I’m sure what I discover might work equally well on that N scale Gaspé layout you’ve been pining away for.


  2. That would make a wonderful scene Chris.

    • Hi Mike

      It would indeed make a wonderful scene. There is so much detail in this scene in terms of texture and colour and I’d like to experiment with techniques and approaches to replicate it in N scale. It’s my favourite time of year for the subtle colour tones, the way the sun wakes up everything, and feeling of breaking out on a cold fall morning with a warm coffee while the world wakes up.

      I can’t wait to start fooling around with all of this.


  3. Your post reminds me of Mike Confalone’s Allagash Central and New England prototypes he has successfully modelled without leaves on the trees – I believe the term is Mud Season. You are also in good company – Jason Shron is modelling a cloudy day in November/December 1980. Very specific. I am modelling 1970-1976 Vancouver. Really broad.

    I am also struck by the photos you shared, and in photos I’ve seen of CN in PEI, of the rolling countryside – a neat mix of farmland/forest. And not flat!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Chris.

    • Hi Eric

      I didn’t realise that Jason’s Kingston Sub. layout would be set in the fall. That’s neat. The Allagash is such a superb example of the season and how well it can be done.

      I’m doing a pretty good job of developing a sense of what and when this proper replacement layout will be. In all cases this next project will be the western end of the Murray Harbour subdivision – the area I’ve been posting about lately. As for “when” it’s narrowed down to these possibilities:
      – Fall of 1950. The Island division makes history becoming CN’s first fully dieselized division. The railway was very busy. I’ve never thought of myself as a 50’s era modeller but the more I learn about car movements and traffic patterns on the Island during this time the more attractive I find it.
      – January 1962. I have some terrific photos of mixed trains on my subdivision. It’s a bleak time of year and I love the role the railway played in connecting people isolated by bad roads and cold weather. This sentiment applies equally appealingly for a Montreal commuter based layout. There’s little more comforting on a lousy and cold winter’s day than an approaching string of Vickers cars eh?!
      – October 1976. I have very exact traffic patterns for the entire month. Rather than random car movements in operating sessions I could potentially model actual trains.
      – April 1971. Same as for October 1976.
      – April 1981. Last trains are running on my subdivision by now but a close friend chased one. Finite as it sounds, I could be quite happy building a layout to support modelling exactly what he saw.

      I’m rambling again but feel like things are really coming together on this one.

      Thanks for the note. I really appreciate the thoughts.


  4. In the next few months I’m hoping to have a much later fall period depicted than this. I’m just starting a new project where the technique here, together with some new materials I’ve just discovered may make fall deciduous trees a bit easier to manage


    • Those are some beautiful trees. I’m a fan of your work and the layout itself. I feel like you’ve really done a superb job of that fall “feel” and it’s a lot closer to the season, the way it appears here on Prince Edward Island.

      I’m looking forward to hearing more about your latest thoughts on fall trees as it’s a subject I’ll need to develop some strength in for my own efforts.

      Thanks for the note.


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