The Niagara Branch was an important piece of the New York Central Railroad that provided a connection between their New York –  Chicago mainline (the Water Level Route) and a border crossing into Canada at Niagara Falls. This blog chronicles the research and construction of my HO scale model railroad depicting the town of North Tonawanda New York, a small but busy location on the Niagara Branch, in the early- to mid-1970s.

I’m using the name Hunter Hughson to brand the writing that I do about trains and model trains. This relates back to my earliest exposure to trains in Hamilton Ontario, and my interest in the TH&B. As a young child in the early 1970s, I spent much time in the Buffalo area because we had family friends there. My father, being an ex-CNR employee, was interested in railroading, and we usually drove the long way to Buffalo from Hamilton, which meant following the Niagara Branch through Niagara Falls, North Tonawanda, Tonawanda, and Black Rock. Hopefully that explains the Hunter Hughson moniker, and the choice of the obscure town of North Tonawanda, New York.

Strictly speaking, I’m modelling the Penn Central era (February 1, 1968 to April 1, 1976). However, I feel that I’m drawn to the second half of that period, so I’m giving consideration to narrowing the focus to something like 1972-1976. I might already be subconsciously doing that when I reflect on the rolling stock I’ve started to collect. My layout is essentially a one-town operation where through trains run from staging to staging and pass through North Tonawanda. The signature industry on my layout is the International Paper plant on Tonawanda Island. My approach to the hobby can be categorized under the rubric of “prototype” modelling, but I’m also very committed to keeping the construction of the layout moving forward. So, while I do a great deal of research into the historically correct industries, traffic patterns, structures, and equipment, I’ll forge ahead with the best informed guess that I can muster when detailed information is lacking, . I’m fine with going back over the layout to tighten up the details and correct any errors as time permits. Basically, I want to keep moving forward at all times.

This is my second blog about model trains. My first blog is called Ontario In HO Scale. It illustrates my connection to the Waterloo Region Model Railway Club WRMRC and the modelling I do in support of that project. I started this blog because Ontario In HO Scale was becoming overrun by posts about my home layout, which are not relevant to the club’s theme.

I haven’t spent much time in North Tonawanda, so I’m not an authority on its history, or that of the Penn Central. This is an ongoing process, and I enjoy learning as much as modelling. There’s lots of content here, so I hope you dig through it and take the time to share your impressions and insights.