NEB&W Guide to North Creek, NY

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NEB&W Layout Table of Contents


  • The actual North Creek was/is on the end of the Delware & Hudson branch that came north out of Saratoga. On our NEB&W layout, we have it on the south end of the branch that comes out of our Chateaugay scene. Chateaugay is basically in our theoretical world located where Plattsburgh, NY is, and thus the branch corresponds to the D&H's Ausable branch.
    In 1922, it had a population of just 800. We are modeling the scene as its mirror image. The small iron ore loader was a temporary affair, built to transfer ore from highway trucks to hopper cars until the Tahawus plant was finished.
    The town's namesake creek flows under the railroad bridge. The streambed is made from kitty litter. The water is polyester, a soft casting resin that cures with a natural ripple on the surface, but scratches easily. The green building next to the creek is all that remains of a company that made "excelsior," a packing material made from wood shavings.
    Barton Mines Corporation has been mining garnet on the top of nearby Gore Mountain since 1924, producing what is known as "Adirondack Crystal Garnet." Barton Mines was and is one of the few domestic sources of garnet. Garnet is a semi-precious stone, used mainly for its abrasive qualities. It was trucked down from the huge mining complex to a small pair of sheds, to be loaded into box cars. It would be shipped to such firms as Behr-Manning in Watervliet, to be made into sandpaper.
    On September 6, 1901, President McKinley was shot in Buffalo. Vice-President Teddy Roosevelt went to spend a few days with him, until he was assured the President would recover. He then went to join his family and friends at the Tahawus Club, when word was sent to him that McKinley had been taken a turn for the worse. Roosevelt was rushed by buckboard to North Creek, the nearest station, in the middle of night, bouncing over unlit dirt roads. As he crossed the platform to board the special train to race him to Washington, D.C., the station agent handed him the telegram that said McKinley had since died, and Roosevelt was now President.
    The North Creek station was the destination of the first ski trains, run by the D&H, starting in 1934. The entire engine servicing area was rebuilt in WWII, as part of the upgrading of the line to handle the new ore traffic. This included a new turntable and enginehouse. (In recent times, the area is being restored and a tourist line has been set up. For more information: North Creek Depot Museum. Also see Jon Patton's super indepth history of the Adirondack branch.)

The Namesake Creek

  • The track crossed the North Creek (the town's namesake) on its way into the scene.

Excelsior Plant

  • There was an excelsior plant (wood shavings used for packing) here. Apparently the wood used, poplar and white birch, was low in moisture, and most of the excelsior was sold to General Electric, who used it for packing iron and steel good. The operation began at the end of the 19th century as North River Excelsior Manufacturing, switched from steam to diesel power just after WWI. It was reorganized as Empire Excelsior c. 1930, reorganized again as Adirondack Maple Block Co. If still in existence in 1951, it didn't ship anything by rail that year.

Railroad Bridge

  • The first railroad bridge built during the construction of the line 1870 was a wood Howe Truss. Surprising, a long-distance photo c. 1880 doesn't show it as a covered bridge. It was replaced by a 77-foot long (7-foot high) girder bridge in 1891, during a period of major improvements. Bridge is still in use.
    During the Bicentennial years, Tony Steele took this shot below, which has been flipped mirror-image fashion to match how we modeling the entire scene. This photo became the main inspiration for our model. (Notice how the trees resemble a xmas tree lot.)

Red House

Highway Bridge

  • The highway originally crossed at grade and the stone abutment is still visible. In 1929, a steel truss bridge overpass was built adjacent.

National Lead Ore Loader

Houses Up By The Truck Dump


  • Waddell's was a small cluster of buildings. See this section.

Four Houses

  • The prototype quartet of four houses near the station.

  • There were a few shacks and shanties behind these houses.

Depot & Freight House

Early Views

1930's Views

Post Steam-Era Views


Model Views

Houses By The Entrance To The Depot

  • On the highway, where the road leads down to the depot, were a few houses.

Stream By Depot

  • There was a small stream just south of the depot. C. WWI, it was a deck bridge, but as part of the 1940's rebuilding, it was replaced with a concrete culvert.

Tool Shed

  • There was a tool shed on the river side. I think it was replaced during the 1940's rebuilding, since the later one was parallel to the tracks, not perpendicular.

Ice House

  • There was an itsey-bitsey ice house (probably used just to ice the passenger cars), no. 9 on Patton's map, above. It was retired in 1940.

Water Tower

  • The first tower was across from the depot, an enclosed rectangular one. In later years, there was a small enclosed water tower off the end of the freight house, similar to the one in Green Island, NY. It was retired in 1952.

The 1944 Engine Terminal

  • The engine terminal was completely overhauled c. 1944 to handle the added heavy traffic coming out of Tahawus. A new 90-foot turntable replaced old 60-foot table.

The Turntable

  • The engine terminal was completely overhauled c. 1944 to handle the added heavy traffic coming out of Tahawus. A new 90-foot turntable, engine house, and sanding tower were added. (The old turntable was only 60 feet long.)
See this section for more info.

Behind The Depot

  • Back in steam days, there were piles of cut lumber behind the depot. By the 1970's, a sawmill was built there.

Frank Smith Grain Mill

  • The buildings were there in the 1930's, the company wasn't listed in the 1951 traffic report (might have changed names) and the buildings gone by the '70's. Don't really have a good view, just end shots when it was in the background of depot photos.
I scratchbuilt a model and painted it yellow (totally guessing at the color) but before I weather it, I want to add the lettering on the sides. The prototype photos above barely or not at all show show the lettering.

Sullivan's Coal

  • A close-up of the background of the previous 1930's photo (mirror image) gives us the only photo of Sullivan's coal, just above the engine. (In Patton's map above, this was building no. 17, indicated to be John Anderson Jr. & Co.) Jon Patton said this originally the first enginehouse, which is why a track ran into it, and it burned in 1915.

  • Sullivan's Coal, kitbashed from several Revell barns, based solely on the one long-distance view and the outline on D&H track maps.

Hillside House

  • Along the highway was a house set in the hillside. (We do plan on modeling it someday.)

Barton Mines

  • Barton Mines was organized Dec. 16, 1924, and a plant built up on nearby Gore Mountain. The garnet quarried here was not gem quality, but was used for its abrasive qualities.

  • Barton Mines garnet sheds were just around the curve from the depot, but all but buried in the weeds. Trucks brought the garnet down from the mountain and transferred it to freight cars via these sheds.

  • Garnet sheds, as scratchbuilt by Kevin Smith for our layout.

Pine Trees

  • The large pine trees in this and other layout scenes were made from the limbs of artificial Christmas trees. They are cut to length, trimmed to an irregular conical shape, dipped in diluted white glue and sprinkled with a dark green ground foam rubber. This technique is demonstrated in Allen Keller's video on the layout, Great Model RR's, Volume I and in Kalmbach's Scenery Tips & Techniques.