Thursday, June 5, 2014

More on Sturgeon Falls - The Fictional Town

So I got around to painting the buildings for my train set up.  For the most part I am happy with how they look but I think I might want to redo them.  They might be a little too big for the scale I am working in.  I think they will do for now but I definately want to redo them.

I got to thinking a little bit about my fictional town.  I figure it is somewhere in southwest Michigan and I thought up a story of an average Michigan town history for it.  So while I am showing pictures of the buildings, I will also explain its history.
 The first European settler to visit the Sturgeon Falls areas was a courier du bois (or fur trader) sometime in the mid 1700's.  He was following the river that was nearby but the rabids made it not too suitable for trapping.  The area was noted though.
 In 1835, a more or less permanent settlement was established when a lumber baron from Detroit discovered that it was a pretty good area for logging.  The river was used for both the saw mill and transportation to Lake Michigan.   The Michigan Central Railroad established a freighthouse and stopping point in Sturgeon Falls in 1850.  The first passenger depot was built in 1870 but it burnt down later that year and was replaced with the brick structure pictured above.  As the lumber industry hit it's peak in the 1880's, the Sturgeon Falls station was one of the busiest along the route.  As jobs from the lumber industry declined, so did the usage of the station.  For a while, the New York Central discontinued it's stop here but it was later picked up when Amtrak started service.  Now the station is visited daily by the Wolverine  (yes, I know those are distance cars but bear with me).
 A restaurant simply known as "Eat".  It was established as a drive in during the 1950's as the use of US-12 was at a peak.  It was a pretty popular stop for people driving from Detroit to Chicago as you would get here around lunch time.  The food was pretty good and pretty cheap.  As US-12 was replaced by I-94, the customer base dwindled but getting a long time Wolverine stop was a boon for the restaurant to the point where they added the unique track side service.
 Downtown Sturgeon Falls looks like a typical Midwestern Downtown.  These three buildings were built in the late 1800's and early 1900's.  At that time, the population of Sturgeon Falls hit its peak. 
 The Railway Arms was built by the Michigan Central Railroad in 1895.  At the time, it was one of the nicer hotels on the route as Sturgeon Falls was making a transition from being a lumber town to a farming/tourist town.  The transition to tourist town was successful as long as US-12 was the major highway but it died down after I-94 was built.   In 1981, the hotel closed down for a while but has since reopened as people have started to re-discover the classic highways.
 Senor Pepe's was started by Pepe Rodriguez in 1936 after he decided the migrant farming life wasn't for him.  His business was started in the back of an old Ford Truck.  He served good food and the people of Sturgeon Falls enjoyed his Mexican cuisine.  It is currently being run by his grandson and while the menu has changed a little to satisfy the American palette, it hasn't changed all that much from Pepe's day.

The Peking Moon is next door and it has a similar history but it was started a little later.
 Barron's Hardware has been in the area for almost as long as the town has.  When it started, it would provide tools for the lumber camp and it transitioned to the local farms.  It moved to this location when the building was built in 1900 and is fairly well stocked.  If you can't find a tool at Barron's, it hasn't been built.
 The gas station is also a remnant from the busier days of US-12.  At one time, it was a full service station but that ended with the death of its mechanic, Al.  It is still in business but is more like a convenience store.
 Norfolk-Southern introduced service to Sturgeon Falls with the sale of the Conrail tracks.  Freight trains rumble through here fairly regularly.
 This is a shot that I would not recommend for a real train.
 In fact, through some quirk, Sturgeon Falls is serviced by all of the major railroads.
 A kind of overall shot of my layout.
 Another shot that shows it a little better.  I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do with all those wires though.
And I leave you with one more shot.

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