Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Back to the Future

Many miles have gone by since my last post, yet my absence has been fruitful in a way. I was able to “shake the demons” (distractions) that pulled focus away from the Burlington Sub layout – gone are the 1:87 scale MILW and 1:160 scale BNSF tangents I entertained over the past year or so. I have since doubled-down on the UP-CNW Fox Valley line theme that comprises my under-construction basement empire. Travel is still weekly so basement time has been limited, but that hasn’t prevented me from doing a bit of “paper modeling.” See this link for a Google Map rendering of the Burlington Sub route from Ringwood, IL – current UP end-of-track – and Belton Jct. outside Milwaukee.

UP Burlington Sub map

I was able to “track” (pun intended) the old FVRR grade north from Richmond, Illinois to Burlington, Wisconsin and beyond. I was amazed that the old grade was still clearly visible from the air, considering the right-of-way never had track laid after its initial grading in the 1850’s. No matter, it was rather easy to follow the surveyed line from Richmond to Burlington, after which the grade was actually used by an Interurban electric line for a number of decades – since preserved as a rails-to-trail path or utility corridor along the way towards the Beer City.

As I traced the grade I could imagine if the C&NW had used this routing as its primary freight route between Proviso and Milwaukee’s Butler yard, versus constructing the New Line – the latter staked out only a few miles west of the existing Kenosha Sub. What the Panic of 1857 rendered abandoned could have been resuscitated, with westward Wisconsin Division freights swinging northwest at Turner Junction, now better known as West Chicago. Well, it will... at least in my basement train room. For now enjoy following the erstwhile grade as I did, and imagine long freights working towards Milwaukee and points north and west.

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