Where did all the (Monson) freight cars go?

With a subject line like that, I wish I had something to say that was as grand. Something worthy of my Pete Seeger-inspired subject line. What I do have is a “light bulb moment” of discovery I wanted to share in these two thoughts:

  • Where did the Monson Railroad store its freight cars when they weren’t in use?
  • A typical day must have had a lot of light engine moves.

In the twenty or so years since I first got hooked on Linwood Moody’s book (The Maine Two Footers) I’ve developed a sort of special fondness for the Monson. Never once did it occur to me that I don’t know where they stored cars that weren’t in use. For reference, Trevor Marhsall has already posted some terrific track diagrams of the Monson here: maineon2faq.wordpress.com/2015/05/25/track-schematics-the-monson

Starting at Monson Junction there’s trackage but any cars that appear in the photos I have are there for specific reason and part of a freight movement. I can’t find a photo of a car simply being stored at the Junction.

Moving along the line to Monson itself there is a small yard at the station:

  • An engine shed for storing engines;
  • A shed and siding to store the passenger car;
  • The turntable lead seems to have provided a home for the line’s snow removal equipment but I’ve never seen photos of revenue stock on this siding or the similar one at the Junction;
  • The only remaining trackage is the former loop but I believe this was only used for cars being unloaded at the station in a “team track” fashion;

If my assumptions are correct then that would imply that their freight car fleet would be stored down at the quarries between uses. This makes sense since it makes the full fleet available at any time.

So in a typical day, would this make sense:

  1. Light engine move from Monson to the quarry to retrieve loaded cars to deliver to Monson Junction.
  2. Engine waits with cars at Monson Junction until unloaded.
  3. When empty the full train is returned to the quarry.
  4. Light engine returns to Monson and day is complete;

The first minor variation worth suggesting would be that steps 1 and 4 could just as easily have the passenger car in tow making steps 2 and 3 mixed train movements. Further, if unloading the cars at the Junction would take too long the engine and passenger car could return without them leaving the cars temporarily at the Junction.

If all the cars are stored at the quarry and there are two quarry branches does this mean that there would be movements from quarry-to-quarry to balance the demand for empty cars?

  • Storing the cars at the quarry makes sense for the flat car fleet since I presume they’d be the primary car movement on the line as suggested by the photos I’ve seen;
  • Would the box cars have been held at the quarry too?

Despite the length of time I claim to have been interested in the line or even attempting to study it, this thought never occurred to me. I think I just wanted to park this thought somewhere to return to later when I’ve had more time to think about it.

Cheers

Chris

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6 comments

  1. For those casual viewers who would like a bit more information about the Monson line, the Maine On2 FAQ’s also has an 1889 aerial view of Monson town which is notable for showing the lines and slate quarries beyond the town at

    https://maineon2faq.wordpress.com/2016/01/01/library-of-congress-vintage-aerial-views/

    and a list of books published about the Monson line at

    https://maineon2faq.wordpress.com/2013/08/17/the-book-list-part-5-the-monson/

    Enjoy if you visit,

    Terry

  2. Hi Chris:
    It’s funny – I used to model the Monson in On2 (or at least a freelanced version of it) and I never figured out where the cars were stored either. At least, not definitively. My best guess is like yours – they were stored in the quarries, near to where they would be needed.
    Boxcars may have been stored on the run-around in Monson Village, too.
    Cheers!
    – Trevor (Port Rowan in 1:64, but previously the Somerset & Piscataquis Counties RR)

    1. Thanks Trevor

      Further to the original question, I’m curious about how often the boxcars went out on the road. This may help in figuring out where they were most likely to be stored.

      Again, most photos I’ve seen show the train of flat cars so I have this feeling that the boxcars seldom travelled but I could be wrong.

      Chris

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