an O-gauge (semi-scale) ‘Phoenix’
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 Despatch Yard
 Christopher Yard
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 Despatch Yard

DESPATCH YARD was the first part of THE NORMANED RAILROAD which was built up following the family’s move from Connecticut to the layout’s present location. The name, “Despatch,” was chosen for a “double reason” - The (then) Penn-Central Railroad’s Despatch Carshops, a freight car manufacturing company, was located in nearby East Rochester, N.Y., which was itself formerly named the village of Despatch. These seemed to be good local connections for the start of our new model railroad’s major freight yard.

Right and below:
Marx and Lionel gantry cranes work at unloading junk loads and “piggy-back” flat cars in Despatch Yard. Note junk yard at lower right and scrap train work caboose at lower left of the close-up (below left), and trailer cars on flats in lower left of the wider view (right).

As the now long-gone Despatch Carshops provided the inspiration for the naming of this important portion of the NORMANED RR, we display at left below a builder’s photo of a refrigerator car built there in 1938 (notary seal visible in upper right of picture).

Above is an O-scale model of a very similar reefer which was the first craftsman-type car ever assembled by the author (c.1972), after acquiring the Despatch builder’s photo as a gift from a former employee of the Carshops.

      So this yard was to become not only the first part of the NORMANED to be “finished,” but over the years it has been the area which has been most often changed. It began as a simple six-track yard alongside a long approach track off the main line. It evolved into one of the layout's two major terminals, providing a choice between point-to-point and/or continuous operation, utilizing two reversing loops, a turntable, and a turning wye track. Despatch became also the main maintenance area for motive power, with the original yard approach track now providing access to the roundhouse and other servicing facilities for steam locomotives, an engine house and fueling facility for diesels, and a machine shop.

A steam switch engine “works” the back end of the Despatch Yard, as two others wait to move out of the engine servicing and maintenance areas and couple up to their consists (the large “Hudson” 4-6-4 locomotive at lower right of photo is just about to leave the turntable which serves the NORMANED’s roundhouse).

The “backyard” of Despatch Yard (upper left area) is adjacent to (left-to-right) the machine shop, coal loader and water tank, shown here servicing a steam locomotive. The edge of the turntable well is visible at extreme right (above bridge).

      Meanwhile, the main yard area itself continued, from time-to-time, to provide for switching of freight (and sometimes passenger) cars on a caboose track, repair (rip) and classification tracks, plus loading and unloading facilities for various types of cargo. At other times it was just a good place to “park,” display, and store (or “lose”) things for the railroad.

An Eastman Kodak Co. (Ekc) boxcar is pulled by Pennsylvania RR steam power over a removable truss bridge as it leaves Despatch Yard past the modified skyline of the firm’s Rochester N.Y. headquarters [a tiny corner of the yard’s control panel is visible in the lower right corner].

Diesel enginehouse and fueling facilities adjacent to the Despatch Yard entrance are pictured here.

A Marx lighted switch tower, some diesel fueling facilities, and a two-stall engine house are located at the scenic entrance / exit of Despatch Yard.

Left: The “ladder track” and switch control panel are evident in this picture of the entrance to the Despatch Yard on the NORMANED RR. A number of trains, cranes and accessories keep this area full and busy most of the time. (A portion of the TTCo. Trolley Museum and the “Saltersville Siding” may be detected faintly in the background on the second and third track levels).

      In some of the illustrations provided herein, parts of this diversity will be noticeable to viewers who may discover different equipment and activity in areas which they recognize from other views.

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