NEB&W Guide to the Addison Branch, VT

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This section of the layout is based on the Addison branch on the Rutland RR. The branch was originally built before there was the D&H's line on the west side of Champlain. The Addison section was built to cross the lake to tap the iron ore resources of Port Henry. Shipping interests prevented the railroad from building a bridge.

Instead, the railroad ran across the lake on a permanently stationed two-hundred foot long barge. The barge could be swung out to allow a steamboat to pass, and was a way to circumvent laws prohibiting a permanent bridge. (These laws had been enacted under pressure from the steamship lobby.) The barge had a nasty habit of tipping as a train passed over it, and finally in 1917, one last dunking caused the cross-lake connection to be taken out of service.)

Win Grant said that recently the barge was discovered on the bottom of the lake in pristine condition by the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum. Only the track had been removed before it was sunk.

In 1946, a plywood factory was built at Larrabee's Point. The turntable had to be moved to the east to clear the area.

We began construction of this branch in early 2004. We got the initial benchwork done, then realized we still had more planning to do and added more benchwork.

For more info, also see the Addison Railroad website.


  • Topographic map pre-1923. The entire branch was just over 13 miles long.

  • Each of the three villages, Shoreham, Orwell, and Larrabee's Pt, all had a runaround track. However, we have them so closely spaced, Jim Spavins and Will Gill suggested we only have a runaround at Larrabee's. This was to keep the branch from looking like it was double track with each passing track ending just before the next one started.

The Lift-Out Section

  • We plan on making a removable section of layout to go across the aisle from Vergennes to the branch. We want to make this a completely scenicked section with a farm scene based on a specific farm. Will Gill took the following photos, 2004:

Baldwin Dry Bridge

  • There was a road underpass near Whiting called "Baldwin Dry Bridge". If you look closely, it appears the center support is to one side of the road, but centered under the bridge. Further study seems to indicate there was a small stream paralleling the road.

Floating Bridge

  • Because of objections from the steamboat companies, the railroad could not get permission to build a fixed bridge. They were required to maintain a clear space of 300 feet. In desperation, they got themselves a 301 foot barge (30 feet wide, 12 feet high), and put a track on it. The barge was operated under steamship laws and was swung out of the way by a stationary steam engine to let a boat pass. It was attached at the southeast corner (the Vermont side) to the fixed trestle. The engine was mounted on the barge and long chains were swing the barge open and shut.
    Apparently when they dumped a train in the lake in 1917, this was the final straw of a continuing series of operational accidents. For a few years, they would use an engine on one side to push a cut of cars out onto the barge, and an engine from the other side would creep out and couple onto them and pull them off the barge.

  • In 1923-'24, the Rutland drew up three plans of possible bridge sites to replace the floating bridge. These maps are still on file with the Vermont Agency of Transportation. All three versions would have located the bridge at a different site than the floating one, requiring relocating the railroad a little. The plans don't indicate the type of bridge(s) they were thinking of.

  • Looking across the lake to the New York side today.

Our Model

  • On Saturday, Jan. 24th, 2004, we held a club work session, working on Vergennes, North Troy, Proctor, Port Henry, and most importantly, the benchwork for the Addison branch.

  • Since the initial construction, we found out enough about the phantom plywood factory to want to model it. Instead of combining Orwell and Larrabee's Point, we decided to extend the benchwork about another 8 feet, and modeling a Orwell in between. On September 11, 2004, we extended the benchwork.

  • In March 2014, Tom Amrine started building the liftout section to cross from Vergennes to the Addison, beginning with aluminum angle for the framing.

  • For further updates on layout progress, see the layout section under each individual town.

Addison Branch, Not Modeled



  • We don't have room to model Whiting, but here are some prototype photos and info.

Hough's Crossing

  • Another location not modeled is Hough's Crossing which just had a depot and a spur for a Dairymen's League creamery. ("Hough now, brown cow!" Actually on the c. 1900 topo, the town was labeled "Huffs Crossing" and I understand that is how "Hough" is pronounced.) The crossing refers to the crossing of the stream and not the railroad.

Addison Jct.

  • Addison Jct. was the station across the lake on the New York state side. The depot looked like the other depots on the branch.



Larrabee's Point