The prototype for this layout is Conrail's Chicago Line, the former New York Central mainline between Albany, NY and Buffalo, NY. My mother's family grew up around Syracuse, NY in the middle part of the 20th Century and some of my early railroad exposure was Conrail in the 1980's in that region. As I grew up in New Jersey, I always idolized the heavy-duty, high-density mainline operation on the Chicago Line and once I could drive, it became a frequent spot to watch trains. Attending Syracuse University in the mid-1990's sealed the deal. Interchange at that point with both NYS&W and Finger Lakes Railway allowed for operational interest, along with Conrail's own blocking and sorting cars at Dewitt Yard in East Syracuse and the constant parade of mainline freights passing in both directions.
This is another crappy screen shot, but it shows a piece of Conrail's 1986 System Map, specifically the area west of Albany and Selkirk, NY, including the Syracuse area. Syracuse is just to the left of center. My fictional cut-off line runs southwest from a location close to CP 270 east of Syracuse at North Chittenengo, NY to a point west of town, roughly near CP 296 near Solvay and Warners, NY. While I will model neither of those fictional junctions, I will model several interlockings on the cutoff itself to allow for prototypical operation. Scenery will be constructed by my wife Kristen and I to represent the feel of Central New York and the Finger Lakes region.
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