Stencil on the side of a BN caboose at East Lewiston

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Modeling Downtown Lewiston, part 2: Using aerial photographs

Fellow railroad modeler Dave Lehlbach and I recently acquired some aerial images of our respective modeling subjects from the Washington State DOT.  Dave has been advocating the use of aerial images in modeling research for many years because of their definitive evidence...A snapshot in time so to speak.  The aerial below is from Lewiston in September of 1966. 

Previous to this, my data consisted of a birds eye post card picture from 1959, a track map from the 1940's and some hand drawn maps the late Jim Morefield, Chief engineer for the Camas Prairie Railroad, drew up in the 1980's.

Until now, I hadn't found any pictures of this area from my era or close to my era.  This photo reveals some things, and of course, creates new questions.

Portion of Lewiston, ID aerial photo, Sep 1966.  WDOT photo.

Following are some of the learning points that may alter how I model this portion of the railroad:

  • I finally know there was only one spur into the Twin City Foods plant on the south side of the building.  The track map I have shows two spurs and the 1959 aerial is cropped at this location.

  • I now understand the arrangement of the Smith, White and Dike spurs.  These are the spurs farthest north, with the spur ending at on the north side of the Twin City Foods plant. 
    • The Smith spur actually continues straight and runs alongside the building just to the east of TC Foods and is Smith Frozen Foods storage warehouse. 
    • The White spur, serving Producers Association, a fruit warehouse,  is across from the Home Lumber warehouse, just to the west of 5th street.
    • There also appears to be a loading dock on the north side where the White spur diverges from the Dike spur.  Anyone know what business this is?

  • Look at the number of cars laying around in the downtown area! 
    • In addition to cars spotted at TC Foods, there are also several cars "off spot", two on the M&E spur and several more on House track 1. 
    • There appears to be five 40' boxcars parked next to the freight house.  Are these LCL cars for the freight house or cars stored awaiting assignment?
    • A hopper or gon spotted at the Home Lumber coal shed
    • All three team tracks are full of 40' and 50' cars
    • A car is spotted at the Mason-Ehrman grocery warehouse

  • House 2 has been stub ended and an end ramp added.  I had the impression this was done in the 1980's. In the 1959 photo, as well as the track map for the 1940's, this track is double ended.

  • Notice the ramp located to the south of House track 3, west of the Erb cable warehouse.  Across B Street is an implement dealer.  Presumably, this ramp was for them to unload at.  Anyone know what company this is?

  • Also on House 3, further to the west in the curve, is another industry with an angled side and loading ramp.  Not sure what business this is either.

The aerial photo also gives an impression of how many vehicles were on the streets, as well as parked at the various factories, plants and businesses within the modeled area. 

This aerial snapshot in time provides a lot of definitive information for my era.  For anyone trying to model a specific time, aerial photos from the modeled era are a must.