Lake Town is a community of Men originally built on piers in Long Lake to help protect it from the dragon Smaug. After the death of Smaug, the town moved to the edge of the lake. Before Smaug, this region had been famous for its toys. Continuing this tradition, a new toy and furniture factory was built in the new Lake Town. Finding that dragons were popular among people who had never seen one, the enterprising Men of Dale named their new business the Dragon Toy and Furniture Company. The last photo shows Lake Town in 2008. In this photo you can see the new depot and Dragon Toy and Furniture Company.
The original town of Dale was destroyed by Smaug the dragon. After Smaug's death, Men from Lake Town rebuilt Dale near its original site. The Mirkwood Lumber Company is already in operation and ready to supply lumber to the toy and furniture factory and to the rest of Middle Earth. The lumber mill was destroyed by a falling tree limb in the winter of 2008, and the platform for the coaling station was flattened by a rampaging cat. A new lumber mill is in the plans. The last photo shows Dale in 2008 with its new depot. There are plans to repaint the depot in the LT&S green and yellow this winter.
The Dwarves returned to Lonely Mountain after the death of Smaug and the Battle of Five Armies. A branch line of the Lake Town & Shire has been built to Lonely Mountain to bring in ore mined in the reopened Mines of Moria and refined at Rivendell. The ore will be smelted and used by the gifted dwarvish metal-smiths to make all sorts of wonderful wares. The railroad has also encouraged greater contact between Dwarves and Men, and there are plans to build the Lonely Mountain Resort to house visitors.
With the rebuilding of Lake Town and Dale and the expansion of Rivendell by Men, there is an urgent need for building materials. The Men of Dale have established lumber camps in Mirkwood Forest to provide timber for the new Mirkwood Lumber Company. In 2008, this lumber camp was moved to the previous site of Gridley. There are plans to establish a second lumber camp in late 2008 or early 2009.
The end of the War of the Ring marked the beginning of the age of Men, and communities of Men have begun to appear everywhere. At the edge of Mirkwood Forest lies Rhosgobel, the home the Wizard Radagast the Brown. A small village of Men called Gridley has appeared here. With the aid of Radagast, they have begun a fireworks factory. Although most people agree that the fireworks made by the Wizard Gandalf the Gray were far superior to those of Radagast, the Wizard Fireworks Company in Gridley undoubtedly makes the best fireworks Middle-Earth has seen since Gandalf accompanied the Elves into the Western lands. In 2008, Gridley was moved to the location previously occupied by the lumber camp.
Most of the Elves, including all of the Elves of Rivendell, left Middle Earth at the end of the War of the Ring. Thus began the age of Men, and Men moved into the Misty Mountains and made the abandoned town of Rivendell their own. Here, the Lake Town & Shire Railroad meets the northernmost point of the Middle Earth Railroad that also serves Gondor, Mordor, and Rohan. Rivendell has become the largest depot on the LT&S, and one of the largest on the MERR. The Elves are remembered in the names used by the Men of Rivendell, such as the Elf Distributing Company. Men are also building the Misty Mountain Textile Mills at Rivendell. The Dwarves have taken an interest in Rivendell since it lies between the reopened mines at Moria and their stronghold at Lonely Mountain. The Gimli & Sons Stamp Mill refines ore from the mines and ships it on to Lonely Mountain where it is smelted. These photos show the evolution of the Rivendell Yard from a mainline with some sidings to a smoothly-functioning yard with a passing siding/receiving track, three industry/classification tracks, and a lead track. The future location of the engine servicing facilities have been moved from the west to the east end of the yard. In 2008, a temporary turntable was built. The turntable works, but it has to be lifted and turned. Also in 2008, the stamp mill was constructed and a mining tram was installed connecting the mine to the stamp mill. Ore cars dump enter a covered trestle at the rear of the stamp mill to deliver their loads. The last two photos show the crude turntable and the stamp mill and tram.
During the War of the Ring, Gandalf the Gray drove the Balrog out of the Mines of Moria. The Orcs were much weakened by the war, and these two factors together allowed the Dwarves to drive the Orcs out of Moria after the war. In cooperation with the Men of Rivendell, the mines were reopened. A mining tram was built connecting the mines with the Gimli & Sons Stamp Mill in Rivendell. Production of several kinds of ore is significant, but well below that seen during the hey day of the mines. The final photo, taken in 2008,shows the nicely weathered ore tipple with the reconstructed tram line. The mining tram no longer connects with the rest of the mainline but is a totally separate piece of track. In this photo you can also see the back of the stamp will with the covered trestle where ore cars are emptied.
Bree has always been a mixed community of Men and Hobbits. It is the center of a rich farming community. Bree ships cattle by way of the LT&S and the MERR as far away as Gondor, and Fallowhide Ale is prized throughout Middle Earth. The final photo shows the farm at Bree in 2008. A siding has been added for loading cattle and temporary fencing has been installed.
The western terminus of the Lake Town & Shire is at Hobbiton in the Shire. Mayor Sam Gamgee has led Hobbition in an expansion of industry better suited to the Hobbit way of life than that forced upon them by Sharkey's Men during the War of the Ring. Farmer Maggot has begun shipping produce throughout northern Middle Earth over the LT&S. Boffin Barrel is a successful small business that supplies Fallowhide Brewery in Bree and other industries with all kinds of barrels and kegs. Shire Grain ships wheat from the rich Shire farm lands to the rest of Middle Earth. But probably the best-known product of the Shire is Pipe-weed grown in the Southfarthing. A Pipe-weed warehouse was built in Hobbiton, and from there Longbottom Leaf is shipped around Middle Earth. In 2008, Hobbiton Hill was completely reconstructed, the town was reconfigured, and the grain elevator was built. These changes can be seen in the final three photos.
Copyright 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 Donald Nute
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