This is the first in a new series of brief vignettes highlighting various kinds of railroad lineside structures. Not only are many of the buildings we will feature herein representatives of an "endangered species," most of them are able to be modeled quite easily utilizing readily available materials and detail parts. In addition, we hope the column will help inspire modelers to study and photograph examples of railroad structures they might have previously overlooked.
For our innaugural, we've chosen a diminuitive Norfolk Southern depot located in Vermilion, Ohio. Originally constructed by a predecessor of the New York, Chicago & St. Louis Railroad (Nickel Plate Road), it served faithfully for years as a passenger depot. After the demise of passenger trains on the Nickel Plate, it was downgraded and served several purposes, most recently of which as a maintenance-of-way storage building.
The structure is simply designed and executed and is fairly typical of depots along the Nickel Plate. Painted neutral gray with black trim, the building is generally in good condition, although some indicators as to its age are visible, notably the condition of the roof and gutters. Interestingly, most maintenance on this line is being deferred in deference to the proposed Norfolk Southern-Conrail merger. In the event the consolidation plans are ratified, traffic on this particular route may be diverted to the parallel Conrail (ex-New York Central) main line just two blocks distant. Thus, it seems the station's future doesn't appear quite so bright.
Structures of this sort are easily constructed utilizing sheet and strip styrene, wood, illustration board and combinations of all these materials. Perhaps another avenue to explore would be to kitbash the building, using one or several of the wood and plastic structure kits presently available. Regardless of what approach you employ, the addition of a structure like the one at Vermilion goes far toward capturing those feelings of place and scale so important to prototype modeling.