B&O Lost Creek Branch, WV track plan HO

  • Size: 10′ x 12′
  • Scale: HO
  • Minimum Radius: 24″ 
  • Minimum Aisle Width: N/A
  • Designed by Dan Bourque

B&O LogoThe lines around Clarksburg, WV were home to many of the coal loaders served by the B&O including the short Lost Creek Branch. This branch left the B&O’s old West Virginia & Pittsburgh line between Clarksburg and Weston, WV at the small town of Lost Creek and traveled about 2 miles up Lost Creek to serve a pair of large tipples near Rider (“Righter” in old B&O mine listings).

Layout

This track plan depicts the Lost Creek Branch as it appeared in the mid-1950s. Aerial photos show three active loaders on the branch during this time frame. The first is a small, one-track spur serving a truck dump about halfway up the branch, the second is the most active tipple which loaded over four stub tracks, and the last and oldest tipple (Righter) was at the end of the branch. All three are represented on this single-deck plan. Track arrangements aren’t clear in photos or topo maps, so they are my best guess.

This is a simple plan but captures the key scenes and track on the branch. Simple box or L-girder benchwork would work well, and the layout could easily be powered with an entry-level DCC system and walk-around throttle like an MRC Prodigy. Staging is not shown, but it’s envisioned that a two-turn helix would lead to a two- or three-track staging yard along the left wall.

B&O Lost Creek Branch, WV HO scale track plan

Operations

B&O coal train Grafton, WV

B&O Mine Run in WV, 1974 -Donald Haskel

Operations on this layout would be more challenging than first meets the eye due to the stub tracks at all three of the loaders (the tipple at the end of the line placed empties on its tail track). Also interesting is the first two loaders placed empties on the end closest to the connection with the B&O, even though the branch ran uphill to Rider. This is because the spurs ran counter to the natural grade of the branch. The Lost Creek Mine Run would leave staging (Clarksburg, WV) with a pair of early B&O four-axles, about 30 empties and a cab. Based on the track arrangements, it’s entirely possible the B&O ran the engines in the middle of the train on this branch. Placing empties on the spur for loader #1 would be simple, but it would take a while to work tipple #2 because all the loads at the end of the stub tracks would need to be cleared before placing the empties. Unfortunately, there’s no where to place the loads, so the mine run would need to leave its empties and work tipple #3 before finishing at tipple #2. This would be easiest if the empties were shoved to tipple #3 and placed on the tail track, then the loads could be gathered and brought back to tipple #2. Back at tipple #2, the mine run would take turns getting empties out of the way, pulling the loads from a track, and replacing empties. This time, though, the loads could just be shoved further up the branch. The final work would be to return to tipple #1 to pull its loads and run around them on the short run-around at tipple #2, and the loaded min run is finally ready for the return trip to Clarksburg. This would probably take at least 60 minutes to complete, not bad for a small bedroom-sized layout with only three industries!

Things I Like About this Plan:

  • Fairly uncompressed for this small a space
  • All loaders modeled
  • Interesting track arrangements and switching
  • Able to run long trains

Things I Don’t Like About this Plan:

  • Tight curves
  • Little variety

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2 Responses to B&O Lost Creek Branch, WV track plan HO

  1. Paul Schmidt says:

    Dan, I really like this plan. Its simplicity and linearity are so characteristic of the Appalachian coal haulers.

    Your description of how it might operate is fascinating. Seems to me that the many moves would help offset any “sameness” in the type of traffic and rolling stock.

    One could always use modeler’s license to add in an ammonium nitrate loader (Appropriate for this era?).

    • Dan Bourque says:

      Thanks, Paul! I agree the track arrangements add a good level of complexity for such a small branch line layout. Even without the AN facility, you could still get some variety with the occasional tank car (antifreeze for the winter) and boxcar/flatcar full of supplies.

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