Boomer operator – Pittsburg, Shawmut & Northern

I attended an operating session on Perry Squier’s HO scale Pittsburg, Shawmut & Northern layout earlier in January. I had participated in several sessions a dozen years ago, before moving to El Paso. It’s a thrill to see all of Perry’s smooth-running steam power and equipment set in 1923. Additionally, it was great to see many familiar faces among the crew and meet a few new members.

I was a rusty crew member as I immediately reported late for my first assignment north out of St. Marys, Penna. Switching a refinery at Farmer’s Valley slowed me further but I was lucky that the timetable was in the wee hours of the morning and no scheduled trains were slowed.

I eventually arrived at Angelica, seen above, where another crew piloted the train to Wayland, NY.

I had time before my next crew call so I snapped a few photos and kept out of the way. Bolivar is seen in the above image. The tracks aren’t complex but there’s plenty here to keep a local crew busy.

Perry has packed lots of operating railroad into the space. Scenery divides several scenes. In the image above, Angelica is in the right background while Bolivar is on the other side of the foreground hill. The rest of the foreground train is almost out of Bolivar. Across the aisle to the left is a glimpse of the St. Marys yard.

My next assignment was to run the miner train south from St. Marys to Weedville. This section is in another room with two levels of layout and several Shawmut-served industries.

The coal mines follow the rustic designs used in the early 1920s. Cleaning and screening was minimal as coal transferred from mine cart to coal hopper or gondola.

The brick and tile industry are also represented along the rails south of St. Marys. A couple busy industries generate carloads to keep the Shawmut in the black.

Tile pipe was a common construction material one hundred years ago. These are just a couple of the many forgotten industries that have mostly vanished from current railroad service.

The freight car roster has quite a few gems. Perry shared his work on these coal gondolas in previous blog post. Thirty of them are scattered across the layout. He showed me a prototype model for another coal gondola with hopper bottom doors. He’s hoping to add several of those soon.

The Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburgh was represented with a couple mill gondolas and a few box cars. This gon kit is available from Chad Boas as a resin and wood kit. I have two in the stash that need attention.

Time passed quickly during the operating session. I had just departed St. Marys with a third job when the General Manager called for quitting time. Crew members said their goodbyes and departed. My mind was filled with ideas on the journey home. I look forward to returning for a future session and getting my own layout rolling again.

Thanks for the invitation, Perry!

If the Shawmut piques your interest, why not join the Pittsburg Shawmut & Northern Historical Society? Members share lots of information on the railroad and the region it served.

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9 thoughts on “Boomer operator – Pittsburg, Shawmut & Northern”

  1. Thanks for the report, Eric. I admit to being very jealous of your opportunity to operate on Perry’s layout. But it’s not exactly in easy driving distance of Yuma! BTW… any sign of Perry’s new scale test car?

    Dave Campbell

    1. Thanks for commenting, Dr. Dave! My first train had the scale car at the tail end for delivery to Prosser. Lettering had not yet been applied. It will be featured in an upcoming blog post! – Eric H.

  2. Eric, I’ve been to Perry’s house. He and his Wife were gracious hosts. I’ve been down his basement steps (and back up again). Still waiting to operate there…

  3. That is one very fine layout! A big “thank you!” to you and Perry for sharing it with us. Inspirational.

  4. Eric, thanks for sharing. Perry’s Shawmut shows how much industry was in rural America in the 1920’s. Eventually we hope to bring brick/tile to HAVOCRR, so nice to pictures of the locations.

  5. Nice narrative. I have to get back to Perry’s. I haven’t been there since the very beginning. And I do have a freight car on the railroad. Perry is a long time friend.

  6. Thanks for posting the session. I operate on John Swanson’s Dixon, Wyanet and Lake Superior, the guy who built Perry’s locomotives.

  7. Hi there,

    I’m trying to find enough drawings or prints to enable me to build a couple of the Shawmut’s 2-8-0s in 0 scale. I have what I believe are the only three books ever published on the PS&N, but they include no drawings aside from a very much NOT scale drawing in “Stories of the Pittsburg, Shawmut and Northern” by Lee Cory. I’ve got plans for 4 and 8 wheel cabooses (cabeese?) and the various wood and composite coal cars, their more modern steel hoppers, boxcars, and so on, but the engines are tricksy. Steamlocomotive dot com helped out with some data, but a lot of details are still pretty fuzzy like cab dimensions, frame dimensions, and so on.

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