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Hampton Station – Prototype and History

Of all of the town on the lower level, the largest collection I have been able to accumulate of historical photos that show buildings and/or track and road configurations in or within a decade before my modelling period is for Hampton, NH.  Most of the photos I have found have been via the Hampton historical society and related content.

Track Configuration

Notably absent from the record are Sanborn maps of the appropriate period showing track configurations.  So my track configuration was developed based upon a combination of photos of various periods together with other historical records.  Of all of my towns on my layout, the yard layout in Hampton is likely to be the least prototypical.  But it is not entirely created from fancy.

First there is the matter of the double track along the stretch leading up to the station from the south, proceeding under Exeter Rd (route 27) and culminating north of the yard.

This image from an 1899 sketch provided the first clues for me to work with.

Several features stand out in this sketch:

1) Double track crossing Exeter Rd as expected with the mainline on the right. At this time, however, there was no bridge for Exeter Rd to cross the tracks, and the land contours would not support a bridge given the indicated freight house location and adjacent buildings.  It is not clear what year the road was elevated and the bridge contructed, but it was well before my era.

2) Just north of Exeter Rd is track to the right that extends both back towards Exeter Rd alongside some structures and extends north with a spur to the right that then splits and curves towards the right. While I do not have materials to show this configuration existed in the early 1950s, I chose to keep this for the operational potential.

3) Buildings to the left of the tracks north of Exeter Rd.  This forms one portion of my basis for choosing to include operational possibilities in that location as well.

The Town

While south of the area shown in the sketch, the passenger depot is well understood to be east and south of where Exeter Rd crosses the tracks.

This aerial photo thats seems to date from somewhere around 1940 provides further clues to how the prototype developed.

The bridge was clearly in place and use by that point, and likely much earlier.  While we cannot see north of the bridge far enough to assess what additional sidings or spurs existed at this point, the access road on the east side of the tracks implies an active area. We also can see the depot, baggage house, and covered passenger areas across the tracks on the right side of the photo.

The photo reveals many of the structures that are present to this day along route 1 including Lamie’s Tavern on the left with the tree by the intersection and other adjacent buildings, the row of storefronts across route 1, the gazebo in the small park in front of the depot, and just at the edge of the photo the iconic tower of the old Odd Fellows building.  It also shows the continued presence of farmland behind the storefronts and homes on the east side of route 1.

A variety of additional photos provide inspiration for much of the structure and scenic work that will be done to complete the Hampton scene.