NEB&W Guide to Chester, VT
From NEB&W Railroad Heritage Website
- I understand that "Chester" comes from the Roman word for "camp" and the sites of Roman camps throughout England bear testimony to the early Roman occupation - Westchester, Rochester, Portchester, and of course just plain ol' Chester. (I suspect that other variations on this name gave us "shire" and "caster" - Worstershire, Lancaster, for instance.)
"Chester" was a common name English settlers brought with them from the mother country and there is a Chester is almost every state in the Union. (My home town is Chester, NY.)
- Chester, VT is located along the line of the Green Mountain RR. It has changed little from its Rutland RR days. The station is a prime New England example of Norman style architecture, while the hardware store is an interesting mix of Italianate (the heavy brackets in the cornice) and Greek Revival (the columns at the corners supporting the half-returns at the eaves).
- Chester did not have a creamery, but instead shipped milk in 40 quart cans from a little covered platform across the street from the station. This facility looks like a Spartan bandstand. Up until the Depression, a stock yard was common at almost every Rutland and D&H towns. The one at Chester survived up until 1950. The Rutland had enough livestock traffic that they ran a special stock train every Monday, picking up stock along the line and bringing them to Boston. Next to the stock pens was a coal dealer, which was covered with embossed metal to look like stone. (For more on coal dealers, see our industry photo gallery.)
- The topographic map shows how Chester Depot was actually separate from Chester. (The area we are modeling is indicated in color.)
- The Rutland's Valuation map (c. 1960) shows more details. (Map is upside down in relation to the way the scene is arranged on our layout.)
- Aerial view c. 1985 by Leo Landry. Green Mt. RR train at the depot.
- High level view of the layout.
- Looking to the right on the prototype c. 1970, with the grocery story and coal dealer across the track. The water tower was added in the late '60's for Steamtown trains. There were stockpens about where the cut of cars sit, and a milk platform between the two phone poles.
Across The Field
- The railroad enters Chester from the south by coming across a flat field. We didn't have enough room to do this justice but did try to suggest it in the space we had.
- A typical Rutland section house was located just down the tracks.
- The Chester coal dealer had the coal bins covered with a pressed metal siding intended to look like stone.
- The stock pens were just south of the road crossing, diagonally opposite the depot.
- Paul Stoving scratchbuilt the stockpens for this scene.
- There was a small diner located on the "square" facing the hardward store. Haven't found any good period pictures of it - if we did, we would probably include a model of it in our scene. It seems strange, however, that it was located right next to the stock pens. (Good source of fresh meat, bad source of aroma.)
- The grocery store was built in 1849, right after the tracks came through.
- Our mockup is set for 28 scale feet across, 21 feet to the eaves. The four bay windows are by far the trickiest part of modeling this building. I plan on starting with two of IHC's San Francisco houses.
- The milk platform was right at the grade crossing, looking like a simple bandstand.
- Looking north on the layout (which would be south on the prototoype), with the milk platform on right, and the stockpen and coal dealer across the track.
Across the "Square"
- Looking across the tracks on the prototype. The milk platform was on the right (gone by the modern day photo), but other than that, the scene looks pretty much as it did in 1950.
- See this section.
- The freight house was on the far side of the depot (but has since been torn down).
Old Box Car
- An old Rutland 40-foot box car was added just north of the freight house in post-steam days - we probably will include it in our model anyway. (In the days before we knew much about freight cars, this specific car was our first introduction to the Rutland steam-era fleet. The inward Murphy ends, which due to the cars position on the ground we could study up close, really caught our attention.)
- See this section for more info.
- Bob Nimke mentioned that the local power company set up a "pole yard" in Chester late in the steam-era. I believe this was where creosoted poles were set out and stored until they could be used - not a source of poles being shipped out from the surrounding woods.
- The hardware store was a unique mix of Greek Revival and Italianate. The building was basically Greek Revival - most notably the overall proportions, the full returns in the gable, and the columns built into the the corner posts. But the brackets in the cornice were such a hallmark of Italianate that it was often called the bracketed style. Greek Revival was on the wane on the eve of the Civil War, so this use suggests the store was built c. 1850, right when the railroad came through.
- Just behind (north) of the hardware store were two sheds.
The Greek Revival House
- Further down the tracks is this Greek Revival house and barn. We started to model the house in this yellow and white color scheme of this c. 1972 photo, only to hear from a club alumni who actually grew up in this house. In the '50's, he said, it was all white. (We repainted the model.)
- Across from the house and just north of the freight house were several industries, a talc plant, a machine works, and a grain store.
- Maybe some day we will try to squeeze one or more of these industries into our scene, although it would crowd the farm scene from Gassetts next to it.
- See this section.