2. A Brief Fake History
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As I developed the track plan over the course of a week or so, I couldn't help but invent stories in the back of my mind to justify all of the goofy things I was modeling. So, here's my fake history (sprinkled with a few nuggets of truth) of the WR&N VIII:
Sometime in the early- to mid-1800s, as was popular in that era, a mineral spring resort popped up in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Developed by James D. Kingsley (a descendant of Roger Williams, the founder of Rhode Island), the Bearcamp Springs Resort was a little unusual in that a train, running on part of an abandoned mica mine branchline, ferried vacationers to and from the nearby town of Augustine, where Kingsley's new White River & Northern Railroad met the Boston, Concord, Montreal and White Mountains (later the Boston & Maine).
By the end of the Nineteenth Century, the resort had fallen on hard times, and the abandoned railroad was purchased by Stephen "Stephy" A. Greene (coincidentally also a descendant of Roger Williams), who established a brewing company in the remains of a failed furniture factory at the White River & Northern yard in Augustine.
The railroad sat idle until Prohibition, when Mr. Greene put his investment to full use selling mineral spring water and other tonics as a means to help keep his business alive, using the railroad to haul it down from the mountains to his brewery for bottling.
Once Prohibition was lifted, business resumed as before, with the added twist of using the spring water for the brewing process, which improved the flavor—and also kept the railroad running. As of the 1950s, Greene's grandson, Stephen III, was the owner of the brewery, and was planning to re-open the resort, using a steam train ride as part of the attraction... bringing us to the layout's present day.
Not So Goofy After All
Hauling spring water by rail? It isn't as fanciful as it sounds. Arrowhead Water in California (below) is just one example; another is Minot Bottling Works of North Dakota, which obtained their spring water from Bethania Mineral Spring Water Company of Osceola, Wisconsin, by rail in special tank cars.
Beer brewed with spring water? Check out Kessler beer...
A steam train tourist railroad operating in the 1950s? Class B-50 Climax, built June 1921 (below), was purchased by Clark's Trading Post in 1952 and ran on the White Mountain Central, a tourist line that's still in operation.
A resort in the White Mountains of New Hampshire? There were dozens. Mount Pleasant House (below) happens to be situated smack between the Maine Central and the Boston & Maine railroads.
An abandoned short line in New Hampshire? The state is crisscrossed with many short lines and industrial railroads, some of which are now tourist attractions, and others converted to hiking trails.
Roger Williams is the founder of Rhode Island; Stephen A. Greene, a now-deceased resident of Cranston, RI, was a descendant of Roger Williams. James D. Kingsley is my nom de plume, and I am also a descendant of Roger Williams—thus I'm also a distant relative of Stephen A. Greene, a wonderful old gentleman I'd adopted as my grandfather when I was young while vacationing in New Hampshire. How I miss the dear man, taking walks through the woods behind his summer home, looking for wildflowers, listening to his war stories, and devouring his wife Dorothy's fantastic fresh blueberry pie...
As of 21 June 2020, I've been contemplating a functional revision for the layout: changing the WR&N's purpose from hauling springwater from the springs down to the brewery, to hauling passengers to and from a fully-functional resort, with the railroad serving as a tourist attraction. This would involve changing the Bearcamp Springs Resort, along with its station, from abandoned buildings to active. One reason I'm considering this is that it makes more sense from a business standpoint; also, it might be a little more believable than the whole springwater hauling bit. And it still fits in with the fake history, more or less. But these are early days for this new alternate concept...
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