Mapping out the Indian Valley Railroad

Are you curious about where the whistle-stops mentioned in Shining Time Station episodes are located? If yes, please read on!

Preface

M
aps are an integral tool to have on hand because they tell us where we are, where we're going and where we've been. They also provide us with the means to plan and scale a journey's route which gives us an idea of how much time it will take to arrive at a destination.   

Authors also made use of maps for the fictional worlds they've crafted in their imaginations such as the ones created for J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth and L. Frank Baum's lands of Oz. Closer to home, the Rev. W. Awdry's map of the Island of Sodor was primarily created to aid the author maintain continuity in his stories' locations. Finally, the need to have a map of the Indian Valley Railroad became one of the driving themes of the Season 1 episode "Mapping it Out".

Harry brings out the Indian Valley Railroad map
Harry brings out an old map of the Indian Valley Railroad line

In the episode, a visitor asks for directions to Farmer's Dell, which Harry has to describe verbally. Stacy bemoans how they don't have a map of the Indian Valley Railroad and how it would be a useful reference for station passengers. Harry disappears into his workshop and emerges a few moments later with an old map of the Indian Valley Railroad line which Mr. Conductor recognizes. As the camera pans upwards on a portion of the map, we can make out the names of the places mentioned in the episodes and seen on the railroad timetables. It's remarked that the map is old and out of date (keep this in your hip pocket).

About the map prop seen in "Mapping it Out"

53108 Wisconsin Zip Code seen on IVRR map prop

It's said that the Indian Valley Railroad is a special place situated somewhere in the Mid-Western United States. On closer examination of the map prop featured in the episode, a few clues crop up. You'll notice the numbers 53108 and 53126 in the background. Very curious. We were surprised to discover that these are in fact U.S. ZIP Codes for Caledonia and Fransksville, Wisconsin(!). Comparing the maps reveal interstate 94 along with other coincident road locations. It may interest fans to know that Franksville's location is at exactly the same location as Logan's Wash. The north/south railway line seen on the Wisconsin map is identical to the location of the Indian Valley Railroad Line.

It's obvious that the resourceful members of the show's art department made the prop using a portion of an old faded base map of Wisconsin. After highighting the railroad line on the old map, the artist(s) added the east-west portion of the rail line, and drafted on the waterbodies. The roads were left in the map's background as latent base features as they should be - with our attention instead focused on the rail line. Because of this, we should not presume that the Indian Valley Railroad is in the state of Wisconsin (unless you're a fan of divergent histories and parallel earths!) 

An inspiration...

"There isn't a train on earth that can go from Point Poaky to Cloggyville in 11 seconds - It's 14 miles!"
~ Mr. Conductor, Does it Bite (S1.02)

The map prop, together with a scale reference from the above quote inspired us to recreate an interactive map of the Indian Valley Railroad line for your enjoyment. Before exploring, we should first highlight a few caveats about this version of the map:
  • Only a portion of the prop map was visible and legible enough for us to recreate in Mapping it Out. Features seen on the right side of the map prop had to be gleaned from the best available screenshots we were able to obtain (the map can also be seen just inside Billy's workshop in All's Fair.)
  • Though their whistle stop names are present on timetables or mentioned in episodes, a few place locations on the map are speculated. We don't have confirmed locations for Indian Valley or Lucky Lake, (and Swan Lake) so we positioned them where it made sense to on our version of the map and symbolized them accordingly. We "borrowed" a segment of another N/S railroad line present on the Wisconsin map for consistency's sake.
  • The location of Spotsville is confirmed, that for Leaky Park location is logical as they fit the east to west sequence of whistle stops called out by Stacy in And The Band Played Off. Placing Leaky Park adjacent to the waterbody and railroad line also fits its implied name!
  • Turley's location is interesting as Mr. Conductor states in Does It Bite? that the whistle stop is "only 15 minutes walk from Doodletown" (Doodlehaven) for a person 18 inches tall. Taking Mr. Conductor's pace into account, it shouldn't be more than a mile or two away. We placed Turley immediately east of Doodlehaven by default.
  • We left out the Wisconsin zip code annotation to prevent confusion. Rick S. suggested that we leave the roads that were visible on the prop map for continuity's sake. However we've changed the road symbology to be more latent in order to make the IVRR railroad line (our peimary focus!) stand out.
  • The map was created to scale using Mr. Conductor's quote that the distance between Point Poaky to Cloggyville is 14 miles. With that said, the south to north distance between Eggywegg and Farmer's Dell is @166 miles, while the east to west distance between Leaky Park and Mount Careful is @110 miles.
  • This map, like the one the Rev. Awdry created for the Island of Sodor is of a general scale. This means that details such as the number of tracks and base features are generalized to avoid clutter. For example, we can deduce that there's a stream or creek east of Shining Time Station whose bridge was demolished in the episode Washout. It's not on the general scale map, but would be definitely present in a tighter operational scale of the map.
  • Finally, our version of the map will definitely be updated should the actual map or higher resolution behind-the-scenes photos of the prop come to light.

MAP
of the
INDIAN VALLEY RAILROAD
Use the zoom and pan functions (map upper-left)
Click whistle-stops to display information about that location. Enjoy!

The origin of those quirky whistle stop names!

Chubby Corners, Lucy's Leap, Cloggyville, Eggywegg... where did these quirky and colourful names come from? One whistle stop name, the now familiar Doodlehaven, was originally referred to as Doodletown in the first few episodes of Season 1. Shining Time Station Co-Producer Rick Siggelkow provides some insight to the origins of these names. 

"Writer Brian McConnachie started coming up with the funny town names and at some point me and Britt and even the set design people (I think) added a few towns.  Doodletown is actually a ghost town near where both Brian and I live in the Hudson Valley, so I bet he first got the name from there. I don't know how it became Doodelhaven...funny change."
~ Rick Siggelkow (March, 2014)

For Shining Time Station Fans

Maps are always handy to have on any journey, so we've prepared the map above as a PDF that you can download and if you like, print off a copy: Download the IVRR Map.

For interested fans, we've put together a composite of the visible portion of the map prop seen in Mapping it Out: Download the Composite Map.

And finally, a message from our sponsors!

Keeping in the spirit of the current subject, we'd like to ask you to flip through the advertisements below from the Indian Valley businesses and organizations who sponsored our endeavor. See if you can identify the episodes that a few adverts may be associated to! Click on the images to advance to the next one.