Here it is almost the end of July and I am just getting around to adding a new chapter in this slowly evolving layout and its accompanying blog. The first 10 days my attention was diverted as I had volunteered to be a co-host for 4 4 hour shifts on the virtual NMRA National Convention Rails by the Bay. I still have a bit of a sore posterior from the 5 days of the convention followed by a heat wave confining me mostly indoors.
I also took my first BART ride since the start of the Pandemic when I attended a luncheon held by my friend's political saloon. And I followed up with attending the annual 4th of July members picnic/ride for the Pacific Locomotive Association/Niles Canyon Railroad. There big information was brewing as and it has now been announced that the dismantled San Jose Lentzen SP roundhouse will, if all goes well, be reconstructed in the wye area at Niles. If all goes well this will also house SP Pacific 2479 along with M-6 Mogul 1744 being rebuilt at at the Brightside maintenance facility.
Unfortunately the cost of oil (rightfully so) is going to at least double by the time these are ready to steam. Perhaps a solar fueled boiler could be used power at least the M-6 as a fireless cooker with compressed steam tank in the Vanderbilt tender.
Well onto the layout. I am still focused on the landscape segment for the station, freight house, section house and other buildings. Nothing new on Tank Hill. Eric Burgh gave me a rather blurry copy of an 1937 aerial photo of the complete area I am modeling. I am not sure how to find the sharp original, but the photo confirmed nearly all the building locations that were critical in the station area module. I was beginning to have doubts about the length of the freight house at 41 feet. Other sources had indicated it was about 35 feet in length. In the aerial photo there was a 40 foot house car about 150 feet east of the freight house and using my calipers I was able to verify the 41 foot length. I have found a lot of photos foreshorten buildings and one which showed the southeast corner of the freight house had made me wonder if I was correct in following the plan length in the 1931 SP relocation plan. The station building was shortened by at least 10 feet from the plan. Before I build the final version of the station, I am hoping to find the actual as built layout for the interior so I can finally answer all my questions about it.
I have spent a lot of time reconstructing the landform for the station area trying to get the elevations of the terrain. Pictures of the current area only hint at what it was when the Port Costa station was active 1931 to 1960.
This is my best guess at the shape after a lot of trial and error:
Ignore the structures strewn across the tracks. I have finally got it to the point where I could paint the bits of foamboard and lightweight spackle used to shape the terrain. The base color is called linen and the terrain does disappear in this photo. These show the structures back in place.
Note the wooden boardwalks like duckboards used to connect water treatment and signal and telegraph repair shop buildings.
I am very focused on the corner where the section house, freight house and station met. It will be the scenic focus for half the layout.
This is the eastern part of the station scenic module.
The tree in the retaining wall is very prominent in photos. I am still not completely sure of the location of the steps up to the section house. The clearer photos of this part of the complex date from 1910 before all the 1930's topographical changes. Note the bollards to prevent anyone driving a vehicle into the space between the station and freight house. The tree is a stand-in and a black iron railing goes on top of the wooden retaining wall. This is the photo, from the Contra Costa County Historical Society collection on which I am basing much of this scene. Note also the rough cement transition from the station rear walkway to the area around the end of the building. That is yet to come.