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The Susquehanna Valley System N scale Model Railroad Project



The Susquehanna Valley System is a mostly free-lanced N-scale model railroad based on a network of railroads that once served Central/Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Southern Tier of New York. 

Inspiration for the layout came from the books, PRR Elmira Branch and Southern Tier LinesPRR Elmira Branch is a illustrated historical account of railroad activity in the area from the mid-1800's, through the route's eventual abandonment in the early 1960's.  Southern Tier Lines is a pictorial chronicle of the transformation of the area from an epicenter of Class 'A' railroading to a series of interchanging branch lines which operate there today. 

The period for the layout is set in the 1960's, a period in which railroad service in this region, as well as in most of the nation, was in the midst of a steep decline as other forms of transportation grew in favor.  The profilic growth in air travel, and the construction of the Interstate Highway System combined to destroy the revenue stream of the railroads at a time when their infrastructures were already in steep decline.  Furthermore, the railroad companies were highly over-regulated by the Federal Government and heavily taxed by state and local governments.  Time consuming and cumbersome regulatory approvals were often required before service changes or improvements could be made.  The valuable time lost through this process only added to the substantial losses, as railroad companies were forced to maintain operations on money losing routes while decisions lingered.  The accumulating losses prevented the rail companies from making the needed upgrades to ensure reliability and improve service to customers.  As a result, the shift to competing modes of transportation accelerated, hastening the eventually bankruptcy of most of the major players in this region of the country.  

The regional scheme for the layout covers an approximately 75 mile wide by 75 mile high region in the Southern Tier of New York and Northern Pennsylvania.  The northern limits extend from east of Binghamton, New York in the east to Corning, New York in the west.  The southern limts extend from east of Scranton in the east, to Williamsport in the west.  As is the builder's privilege, the real cities and towns will be loosely represented due to strategic limitations, with pseudonyms provided in their place.  This will also help me escape the critical eye of the those insistent upon true prototype, a noble idea which unfortunately loses out to the limitations of free time and disposable income. 

About the layout

The main line operating through the core of the layout is the Erie-Lackawanna.   Set in the early years of the merger, motive power roams the layout in an amalgamation of Erie black and yellow pulling fast freight, express passenger traffic wearing the DL&W's dashing gray and maroon, while the newest high horsepower road switches appear in the striking grey, maroon, and yellow merger scheme.   Unfortunately, in real life, the colorful beauty hardly foreshadowed the combined railroads future.  

The second main line operating through the core of the layout is the mightly Pennsylvania.  True, the Elmira branch in real life was but a secondary line, hauling coal north to the giant coal docks on Lake Ontario, while southbound traffic brought mostly milk, and few passengers back to its southern terminus at Williamsport on the way to the East-west mainline.  This, however, is where creative license takes over.  On the SVS, the Pennsy mainline is flourishing (well, relative to the 1960's anyhow).  The mainline buzzes with fast freight and regular long haul passenger traffic in addition to the main cargo of Northeastern Pennsylvania, anthracite coal. 

The northern branch line of the Pennsylvania interchanges with the EL near Elmira, and the mainline interchanges where the EL terminates in Northumberland, south of Scranton creating two common termination points for the layout.

Interchange traffic abounds.  The Delaware and Hudson serves points north to Canada and New England interchanging with the EL at Binghamton.  The D&H also hauls coal from the Lackawanna basin using trackage formerly owned by the Erie and along the path of the defunct New York, Ontario, and Western railroad.  The Lehigh Valley also crosses the region, interchanging with the EL north of Sayre, Pennsylvania, and with the Pennsylvania south of Nanticoke.

Combined, they make an impressive empire...  

Come and have a look.