Large Scale Central

Trip to MA & NECLSTS

Since what I’ve got doesn’t really fit in the NECLSTS thread, here’s a bit of travelogue.

4/26/23 (Wednesday):

Drove from near Baltimore MD to Jon’s place in Danbury CT, and had a good chat and view of his layout (as reported on the NECLSTS thread)

Lots of rain while driving the last 3.5 hours to Littleton MA, but got here safely. I got an AirBnB just down the road from Bob’s digs.

The place is done up in the “primitive” style but has all the necessities. All frames with hand-hewn timbers.

4.27/23 (Thursday):

Messed around with more DS&CVRR research in the AM, long story…

I next visited a very cool business around the corner. The gentleman collects, (perfectly) restores and sells wood burning stoves. His shop is in the former Littleton train depot, and his office is in the caboose. Sick fun, right?

Some jaw-dropping work:

More gorgeous stuff within the depot. This white unit weighs almost half a ton:

I then drove up to Lowell MA, very cool 1800’s industrial town designed around a system of canals which energized its earlier mills. A main exhibit there (run by the US park service) is the Boott Cotton Mill. Here’s a limited view of the facility from the outside.

In the “weaving room,” they turned on the line shafts. It was quite amazing.

Another view of the same, with a worker bringing one of the looms online. We would turn four on.

Here’s a detail view of one of the looms in operation. If you look closely you’ll see the shuttle shooting back and forth.

I drove back to Littleton (just 20 minutes from Lowell), and Bob gave me a tour of his layout. The intro view is amazing!

Had a great time chatting and looking and drooling. So much so that I forgot to take any more pics! Oh well; I’m sure you’ll find some elsewhere on Bob’s site. :grin:



Are you still in the Japan tour guide mode ? :thinking:

I suppose, haha!!

Just wait till I have some sushi tonight in downtown Littleton…

I have driven by that depot many, many times, but never stopped. Very cool. If I only had the money I could restore this place as an early 50’s AirBnB and utilize one of those!

If there is room after Sushi, go to Kimball’s Farm for Ice Cream. Get the small. You might not be able to finish it!

That stove guy is amazing. He takes one of those 100+ year old ancient rusted stoves, and restores and modernizes them. They’re incredible work.

Was good to have you stop by!

Thanks for having me over on a work day, Bob. Amazing work you’re doing!!!

Per my BnB hostess / your neighbor, stove guy is Dave Erickson. Unfortunately I didn’t meet him, but his huge dude employee (sorry, didn’t get his name) was very welcoming, took tarps off and wanted to share about their awesome work.

He said that Dave E. owns some of the cabeese and has furnished stoves for this place:

Apparently they have like stupid-sick-luxury cabooses parked there? I wasn’t quite sure from Big Stove Dude, because a customer interrupted before he could finish the story.

Man, if you have a need for a building flat, that double building with the clock tower would be a great back drop.
Cliff you don’t let a minute go to waste. What interesting finds. Thank you :sunglasses: :+1:

1 Like

I worked at Wang Labs in Lowell, and we owned a ‘country club’ in Littleton, so I’m quite familiar with the area. Lots of abandoned railroads.
Wang bought one of the Lowell mills to use for manufacturing but found the floors wouldn’t take the weight of modern equipment.

There’s a fascinating number of canals from the Merrimack River that feed waterwheels in the mills.The dam on the river meant that there’s about 3 miles of calm water upstream, and my first power boat ended up there as I sold it to an ex-Wang pal in Andover.

I may be mixing up places I know of…BUT…
Isn’t there a Heritage Street Car operation around in that Mill area…it is a Historic site of some sort…I understand…
Fred Mills

Fred, yes there was a trolley loop with a stop at that mill. It was only being used for a special youth program that day, and open to the public over the weekends I think.

4/28-29/23 (Friday-Saturday):

I posted about the NELSTS show on that main thread. And I’m realizing there’s no “C” in the acronym… It’s “North East” and not “North East Coast,” duh.

4/30/23 (Sunday):

I had an absolute blast visiting Deb and Stan Ames’ layout in Chelmsford, about 20 minutes from the BnB I’m staying at near Bob’s.

Breathtaking, stunning… astounding in every way. And Stan and Deb, wow, it was so informative and entertaining to speak with them. Stan gave me a layout tour, and Deb shared some wise council re. DCC.

So rather than blather on. here’s a quick overview video (well, quick in regards to the immense topic to cover). I’m sure there are many vastly better ones, but here’s mine.

There were a number of visitors, one of them being long-time garden RR garden aficionado Nancy Norris! Here she is with Deb on the right.

So it was an extra bonus meeting Nancy and chatting a bit with her.

Then back to my digs. I’ll be heading home tomorrow, driving through PA (bypassing NYC region). An hour more, but with it for the more pleasant highways.

1 Like

Nice video Cliff. I really need to get up there.

Dan, before today I’d have said, Yep, that’s what I’ve heard.

After today I’d say, Yep, make it your #1 life priority, haha!


Deb and I both really enjoyed your visit. Sorry that due to the weather we did not have a full blown ops session on Sunday but it was still a great day.


Stan, it was a FANTASTIC day for me! Thanks for all your discussion on infrastructure, operations, build history, switch building…!

1 Like

5/1/23 (Monday):

Last day of my trip, almost entirely spent on driving home to MD, via MA-CT-PA, and unpacking the car.

Almost entirely. There are a number of coal / railroad places to visit in Scranton, and I wanted to take one in. The signs for the Steamtown National Historic Site were prevalent, so that’s where I went.

Awesome place! I couldn’t spend much time there, but did enough to get a sense of it. For sure I’ll be back.

For more info, on this facility and the adjacent Trolley Museum, see: Steamtown National Historic Site (U.S. National Park Service)

Here’s what greets you when driving in: UP Big Boy 4012!

A pan of the yard & roundhouse

Lots of steamers on the property:

They also have a trolley museum (entry fee required) which does rides around a loop.

A few quick videos, first of the roundhouse area from the turntable.

Next, a walk-by of some of their locomotives within the roundhouse.

Finally, a very cool way to display a spare / unwanted loco:

I missed the cylinders in the video, but they did that as well.