Posted by: bgtwindad | March 5, 2010

What’s in a name?

You may be wondering where the Chestnut Hill & Frost River railroad got its name.  Well, I’ll tell you… in a song…

No, really!  The name came from a song…

I first got re-infected with the model railroad bug during the Christmas season of 2009.  I will detail that story in a separate post.  Anyway, the layout idea started as a Christmas decoration – an N-scale “around the tree” layout.  That proved to be somewhat impractical, so we quickly modified it to be a small oval on a 2′ x 3′ board.  Since it was a Christmas Layout, I wanted a name that was tied to the holiday season, but that sounded like it might be a real Railroad name, not a silly holiday name, or a corny pun.

All railroads need to have a name, and many of them are geographical.  It’s common to name the line after its main terminal points:  The Louisville & Nashville, Chesapeake & Ohio, Baltimore & Ohio, Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, Chicago, Burlington & Quincy, and so on.

One of my favorite secular Christmas tunes is “The Christmas Song”, and its first line reads:

Chestnuts roasting onan open fire

Jack Frost nipping at your nose

This, I said to myself, had a nugget that was subtle enough a reference that it just might work!  However, there aren’t any place-names in those lines.  On the other hand, Chestnut trees are (or at least were) quite common in the region I am modeling, as is frost… and mountains and rivers are inescapable in West Virginia…

So… roasting chestnuts and Jack Frost morphed into Chestnut Hill and Frost River!

Now, creating a backstory for how those names were created in the model world should prove rather interesting…


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