That’s because, thanks to some digging in the archives by Jeffrey Smith, I’ve just learned that the prototype almost didn’t exist – at least, not in the 1950s.
Jeff – who runs the excellent CNR In Ontario website – delved into the National Archives of Canada and uncovered an application by the Canadian National Railway to the Board of Railway Commissioners for Canada in the late 1930s to abandon the Port Rowan branch in its entirety. In the application, railway officials paint a picture of a money-losing branch with very little prospect for future business growth.
What’s invaluable from a layout-building and operating point of view is that this application is backed by several pages of useful data. Here are two examples – describing the character of the branch and the area it served:
(Click on the above images to view larger versions)
I’m pleased that my layout appears to capture the railway that’s described in the “characteristics” section – with light rail, poor ballast and ties, and buildings “generally in poor condition”.
I haven’t read through this information in detail yet, but it is information in the public domain so I will share more of it as I determine how best to do that. Stay tuned for more – including the railway’s traffic reports for the line in the years leading up to the request to abandon it, and the Board’s reasons for denying the application.
(I’m glad the board did that: As a result, the line would last another quarter century, and photos taken in the 1950s would inspire me to model it a half-century after the rails were lifted.)
Thanks Jeff – what a find!