Rob Gross' New Haven RR

 Rob Gross has modeled the New York, New Haven and Hartford's Highland Line.



The New Haven RR by Rob Gross


 Layout RR Name: New York, New Haven and Hartford’s Highland Line

Owner Name: Robert Gross

Website: None

Scale: HO

Multilevel? # of decks: Single level / hidden staging / with peninsulas

Mainline Run: 200 feet (approx.)

Minimum Radius: 37 inches

Typical Aisle Width: 24 inches (narrower in some areas)

Benchwork: 3/8" plywood, framed with 1x4s, with Homasote on top. Benchwork is L-girder and open grid.

Height: 52 inches

Accessible: View from opened garage door. Also duck under to access center of layout.

Theme, prototype, era, and location of layout: The theme of my model railroad is the Highland Line of the New Haven RR between Waterbury, CT and Plainville, CT and it lives in our 2.5 car garage (what can I say, that’s how we do things in Florida).

Ample hidden staging yard represents New Haven, CT / Bridgeport, CT / Maybrook, NY on the west end and Hartford and Boston on the east end. There is an interchange with the New Haven’s Canal Line at Plainville with Holyoke, MA as the hidden northern staging yard.

The modeled portion includes the Waterbury High and Low Grade Yards, Waterbury roundhouse and coach yard. It then goes through three industrial towns including Bristol, CT, Forestville, CT and Plainville, CT.

The era is narrowly set in Fall 1948 when the NH relinquished its steam—many of which ran out their last miles on the Highland Line.

Special note needs to be mentioned to two former NH employees who worked the line and who supplied much of the very specific day-to-day operational details that can only come from former employees.

Noel Weaver worked on the Highland line starting in 1958. Though after the time from that I model, Noel suppled many documents he found in the old roundhouse describing the final movements of steam off the Highland Line. Not to mention countless info on how the line operated.

Gordon Wheeler started as a tower operator at SS 202 in Waterbury in 1937 and worked there until the tower closed in 1955. I met Gordon at a New Haven RR Historical Society meeting a few years back. It’s amazing how much Gordon remembered about the train movements through the area at the enviable age of 93 (at that time).


Special Layout Design Features: The model railroad is a folded dogbone that operates like a point-to-point and is built on traditional and perhaps long forgotten methods that incorporate L-girder and open grid benchwork using 1x4s then topped with plywood and homasote.

It has been designed to look and operate as correctly as the New Haven did during the era modeled. Sanborn Insurance maps and NHRR track charts were used every step of the way. Vintage photographs, mostly by photographers Harry and Mable Lange that were taken during the last days of steam were also used to guide the scenes as they came together.

LED lighting, electrical panels and countless man hours are thanks to my good friend and fellow modeller Bob Putt. They layout would not be what it is today without his ingenious ability to plan and execute the vital parts of the layout that to many, can go un-noticed.

The layout can be operated by myself or up to six operators. As far as operations go, the layout is in its infancy, but it designed to operate in accordance to official NHRR Arranged Freight Books and official passenger train schedules to guide the movements on the line.


Purpose of the Railroad and/or operating session: Like the prototype, my layout replicates the ‘round the clock operations of freights moving through and also terminating in Waterbury, CT. At the time, Waterbury was the 8th largest city in New England and its industry was heavily engrained in the brass industry. In fact, Waterbury was known as the “Brass Capitol of the World.”

Through frieghts would pass through Waterbury and drop cars, while other freights would terminate there. Then 2-8-0 F-5 Consolodations, 2-6-0 K-1 Moguls and 2-8-2s would be dispatched from the large roundhouse and would then haul local trains to the various towns that are modeled and handle the switching. Waterbury is also the home of a large passenger terminal (modeled after the Sienna Bell Tower in Italy) that has trains terminate and originate in both directions (east and west) then tie up at the small passenger yard next to the roundhouse.

There is a large freight house and using my modeler’s license I added a TOFC yard. The NHRR was one of the first to employ trailer-on-flatcar operations starting as early as 1936.

Lots of freights powered by 2-10-2 L-1 Santa Fes and 4-8-2 R1s and R3 Mountains. Some need helpers out of Waterbury. Occasionally a pair of DL109s will find their way on the point. Lots of short 2-car passenger trains pulled by 4-6-2 I-2 Pacifics and RS2 with the early dieselization program during the ear modeled.

Scenery Methods and %: Scenery is mostly Woodland Scenics materials. Trees are going to be Super Trees by Scenic Express with ground up leaves glued on. Streets and sidewalks are styerene and textured wood.

Backdrop: 1/8 inch styrene with photo backdrop of central Connecticut and upstate NY.

Car Forwarding System: Switchlist, created from a revised 1948 version of the prototype and passenger schedule modifed from the same year.

Size: 20 x 22 foot garage.

Scenery: Some scenery, most of the large buildings are complete and close to the prototype

Prototype/theme: Exact and precise replication of the area modeled.

Rigorousness: Exactly adheres to prototype practice.

Operating Scheme: Other: For the local frights, the operator is given a switch list, and operates as a turn. A barrel key is required to “unlock” all switch panels. For the through trains same. For the passenger trains an index car of stops.

Control System: MRC Prodegy 2 Elite; with plug in points around the layout. Four video cameras and a monitor help locate trains in when hidden.

Trackwork: Atlas Code 83 flextrack, Peco Turnouts, Tortoise switch machines.

Maximum Grade: 1%

Communication System: None.

Number of Crew Positions: 5-6 max.