Saturday, August 29, 2020


Track-side industry was scarce, even rare in the 1850's and through most of the 1860's. Although there may have been more, I have not researched past 1865 being a stickler for this time period. However, when industries can be identified, especially if my intention is to simulate operations, I will find a way to position it. This became so with a mill just outside of Atlanta, the Schofield Rolling Mill. The photo below shows the remains of the mill taken by the photographer who accompanied Gen'l Sherman during the Atlanta Campaign, George Barnard, in 1864. The remains of a whole lot of rail cars plus a couple of locomotives also fill the scene. Atlanta was under siege and General Hood's Army of TN was in retreat. Abandoning Atlanta required abandoning the trains as well because Sherman's army cut off the rail lines. Consequently, the trains were  intentionally torched. The rail cars also just happened to be loaded with munitions! Hence, the mess. 
There are other images of similar rolling mills, however, this is the only photo of Schofield I could find. And as you can see, there are two tracks. Most likely, but uncertain, is that one track is a passing siding and the other a main. 
You may recall the scene in Gone With The Wind where Rhett is leading a carriage with Millie, her new born and Scarlet through the burning cars in the Atlanta rail yard. That was the a depiction of Confederate soldiers needing to burn the cars and inadvertently so went the mill. Matter of fact, Wilbur Kurtz, consultant to the movie, had the prop builders add a sign to one of the buildings that read MILL. You can see this on photo outtakes of the film.

A close proximity to how the Schofield mill looked is this illustration. The caption lists it as Atlanta-Rolling Mill-1871. Serious selective compression will be required. I am modeling the 1863 version which, with poetic license, compression was required. 
Apparently, production output of the mill included mostly rail and canon tubes. One interesting feature of the structure is that it was open along most walls. This makes sense given the hot summers down south and the need for ventilation. Further research, and help from my buddy Gerry Dykstra, surfaced images of how the interior may have looked. 
This following painting is by von-Menzel depicting a mill in Europe. Many conversations later I was able to confirm that the interior was built of wood beams. Gerry indicated that the floor most likely was iron sheets vs. brick or stone as they would have exploded like shrapnel if hot iron hit it. The vertical beams would most likely have  been wrapped with iron sheet as well about 4' from the floor up to protect against flame. 
This next painting is a mill in Toronto. A big difference here is the roof design. This looks to be an A-type. The Atlanta mill roof was curved, similar to those of the Car Sheds in Atlanta and Chattanooga. Bow trusses will be built to accommodate the mill's curved roof. As you can see, there are a plethora of possibilities to be considered for the interior.

To begin,  I had identified a spot for the mill. The layout expansion not only solidified this plan, it also allowed the inclusion of a passing siding and room for a very compressed model of the mill. This will be north of Atlanta. 

However, the real mill was adjacent to two tracks, the Georgia RR and the East Tennessee & Ga. RR. Location was actually west of Atlanta. The diagram below was done by an on-line friend, Zoe, who unfortunately passed away a few years ago. Her plan was to create a virtual W&A. Although not completed, her research was invaluable. The W&A roundhouse is left, northwest of downtown. The tracks along its left side headed south passed the mill.

Speaking with Gerry Dykstra, he sent me a drawing of the floor plan as he would imagine it, as there is no such drawing, at least in my research. Working off this period photo, Gerry was able to draft a floor plan including rollers, furnaces and other essential elements.

The roof will be 3/4 with the open end of course facing the aisle.

Nest step was to build a base. The majority of layout structures are removable. The same is planned for the mill. As I could not find a thick enough styrene, this is a laminate. Quick Grip is THE BEST!
Next was to add the iron plating Gerry mentioned. These were each 5'x7'. It took a few... The gear is from a Faller steam engine model, #180388.
Base done, next was needing to build the roof first because it has a steep curve. Similar to the card shed, the roof is built first then the bow trusses. To built roof a jig was required. The jig is thin sheet metal.
First layer of styrene is little more than paper thin. Roof texture, Evergreen Metal Roofing #4521, is the top layer. 'Bondene' is the adhesive which works GREAT with most styrene, vs. Testors which seems to work only with Evergreen. 

Several sections of the metal roofing were needed to complete the length. Once these were set, next was to add the seems. These metal roofs were made in sections. The material was a tin makeup. The seems represent the soldered sections.

As you can see, MANY of these little buggers were required. Once done I chose a silver metallic spray paint as a base color. Roof was then painted a heavy wash of gray craft paints.

You notice the area where seems stopped. This was to allow the back section of the structure to be attached. The sides were cut from the Dykstra template...

The oval areas were louvers. Once attached as the sides, the roof interior was next. A terrific web site,, offers free images. I was luck enough to find wood that matched what we deduced for the ceiling. A key bit of research came from another friend, Charlie who did the Chattanooga Car Shed... O scale! Charlie had this done to full scale; it came out to about 4'. 

For my HO version, another good friend, Jimmy Judge, scaled the image to HO. As you see, these were cut into strips as I needed to install the cross bracing first because these needed to be glued directly to the ceiling. The paper would have impeded the adhesion. 

The result was gratifying, especially after some gritty weathering.

Of course I did not recognize the need for corbels as this project was learn as you go. These were willed with my Dremel hitched to a vise and used as a lathe.

Roof completed, work on the lean-to section commenced.  

This roof would be where the chimneys from the furnaces and boilers protruded. The chimneys came out to be the featured element.

Using another paper, each chimney required 8 pieces to achieve the look of the period photo.

After many conversations with different construction friends and Mr Dykstra, copper flashing was deduced.

Stay tuned. In another couple of weeks I will have completed adding the bow truss rods, boilers, furnaces, steam engine and steam hammer.

1 comment:

  1. It look like lots of good work. The USMRR built and iron work in a Chattanooga during the war. There are photos of it available. They may help.