INT Dixiana Branch, VA 3 track plan HO

INT Dixiana Branch, VA HO scale track plan
  • Size: 20′ x 15′
  • Scale: HO
  • Minimum Mainline Radius: 27″
  • Minimum Aisle Width: 26″
  • Designed by Dan Bourque

Interstate LogoThe Interstate Railroad built the Dixiana Branch in 1954 on top of an old narrow-gauge right-of-way from Addington (Holton), VA to Dixiana. At the end of the long branch was a five-track tipple that was transplanted from another coal mine far away. Along the branch, smaller loaders popped up at various sidings and spurs making this a busy branch served by two mines per day after the Southern took over operations in 1965.

The Layout

This layout depicts the Dixiana … Read more

SOU Monarch Branch, VA track plan HO

SOU Monarch Branch, VA HO scale track plan
  • Size: 15′ x 20′
  • Scale: HO
  • Minimum Radius: 27″ 
  • Minimum Aisle Width: N/A
  • Designed by Dan Bourque

Southern LogoThe Southern Railway’s branch to Monarch, VA was a leg of the coal-producing St. Charles Branch west of Appalachia, VA. The L&N had (and CSX still has) trackage rights on the branch, so mine runs from both railroads worked the major mines on the line including Blue Diamond’s Monarch Mine, Benedict and Kemmerer Gem.

The Layout

L&N LogoThis track plan represents the Monarch Branch and Kemmerer Branch of the St. Charles line as they appeared in the … Read more

INT Dorchester Branch, VA 2 track plan HO

INT Dorchester Branch, VA HO scale track plan
  • Size: 20′ x 15′
  • Scale: HO
  • Minimum Mainline Radius: 27″
  • Minimum Aisle Width: N/A″
  • Designed by Dan Bourque

Interstate LogoThe Interstate Railroad had four primary branch lines that served the coal fields of southwestern Virginia. The shortest of those branches was the Dorchester Branch which split from the L&N and crossed the Interstate mainline at Dorchester Jct., VA. Its profile crossed a valley via a trestle before descending and then ascending a grade to Dorchester, home of a medium-sized tipple and two banks of coke ovens along with a couple small truck-dump docks at the end of the … Read more

MTR Montour Railroad, PA track plan HO

MTR Montour Railroad, PA track plan HO - lower
  • Size: 14′ x 40′
  • Scale: HO
  • Minimum Radius: 24″ 
  • Minimum Aisle Width: 30″
  • Designed by Dan Bourque

Montour RR LogoThe Montour Railroad existed to serve the coal mines along a semi-circle southwest of Pittsburgh, PA. By the 1970s, the railroad’s operations consisted mainly of four major raw coal loaders, the large Champion Prep Plant, and interchanges with several railroads. A few small non-coal industries broke up the monotony of endless coal hoppers, but black switchers and hoppers still ruled the line until its closing.

The Layout

This track plan began as a challenge to design an HO-scale layout for a … Read more

BLE Branchton, PA track plan HO

B&LE Branchton and Hilliards Branch track plan HO scale
  • Size: 12′ x 20′
  • Scale: HO
  • Minimum Radius: 27″ (30″ mainline)
  • Minimum Aisle Width: 24″
  • Designed by Dan Bourque

B&LE LogoBranchton, PA was home to the Bessemer and Lake Erie’s northern coal operations including the mainline from Filer, PA (north) to Butler, PA (south) and the adjacent 10-mile Hilliards Branch. Until 1958, the Hilliards Branch was a major supplier of limestone bound for Pittsburgh’s steel mills, but after the limestone operations shut down, the branch continued to supply coal from a few modest operations into the 1990s. While the mine run base was moved to Butler in the early 1980s, Branchton continued to serve as an important … Read more

SOU Brevard Branch, NC track plan HO

SOU Brevard Branch, NC HO scale track plan by Dan Bourque
  • Size: 6′ x 22′
  • Scale: HO
  • Minimum Radius: 22″
  • Minimum Aisle Width: N/A″
  • Designed by Dan Bourque

Southern LogoThe Southern’s Brevard Branch stretched from Hendersonville, NC to Lake Toxaway, NC in the foothills of the Appalachians. The largest customer on the line was the paper mill in Ecusta, and in the 1980s the line was cut back to Ecusta, just short of the line’s namesake, Brevard. This branch was far from the coal fields, but a power plant at the mill received coal, so hoppers were a common sight along with tank cars and boxcars. The mill at Ecusta made fine paper for Bibles and cigarettes from … Read more

URR Clairton Branch, PA track plan N

  • Size: 18′ x 19′
  • Scale: N
  • Minimum Radius: 15″
  • Minimum Aisle Width: 30″
  • Designed by Dan Bourque

Union Railroad LogoThis plan is good for those who like big industries and modeling a small area in a big space with little compression. The Union Railroad has served US Steel’s Pittsburgh, PA steel mills for more than a century. While the URR’s own coal tipples played out long ago, the Union still hauls a lot of coal from it’s coal-hauling neighbors and serves the largest coke plant in the nation at Clairton. N scale was chosen for this layout to allow the huge industrial complexes in … Read more

N&W Dumps Creek Branch, VA track plan N

N&W Dumps Creek Branch track plan in HO lower deck
  • Size: 23′ x 24′
  • Scale: N
  • Minimum Radius: 18″
  • Minimum Aisle Width: 30″
  • Designed by Dan Bourque

N&W Logo blue PlainThe N&W’s Dumps Creek Branch operated more like a self contained short line than a branch. In it’s 16 miles, the signaled branch served several large loaders of the Clinchfield Coal Company, a pair of the company’s large preparation plants and a power plant. It had its own yard at Carbo, VA with a small shop, and it operated big power on several trains daily hauling coal up and over the Sandy Ridge through a tunnel more than a mile long.

The Layout

This layout represents the Dumps Creek Branch in its heyday … Read more

B&LE Shenango, PA track plan N

Track plan B&LE Shenango, PA N scale
  • Size: 15′ x 20′
  • Scale: N
  • Minimum Mainline Radius: 20″
  • Minimum Aisle Width: 30″
  • Designed by Dan Bourque

B&LE Logo PlainThe Shenango/Greenville area of the B&LE was unique in that it was a major hub of a railroad and yet not on the mainline. In 1902, the K-O cutoff from Kremis (south of Shenango) to Osgood (north of Greenville) was completed which greatly improved the grades and curvature by keeping the main out of the Shenango River Valley. However, the old line remained important because it hosted three interchanges and was home to the B&LE’s major engine and car shops. Shenango Yard was the site of the … Read more

K&T Steam Era track plan O

Track plan K&T steam era O scale
  • Size: 20′ x 22′
  • Scale: O
  • Minimum Mainline Radius: 48″
  • Minimum Aisle Width: 36″
  • Designed by Dan Bourque

K&T Logo PlainThe K&T was a compact little road that ran short trains to a handful of loaders. As such it makes a great subject for a layout of modest proportions or a layout of a larger scale.

The Layout

This layout, my first attempt at an O scale layout, captures the key elements of the K&T in the 1950s when coal trains were still going as far as Oz to serve the handful of remaining coal loaders using Southern hoppers and a small fleet of aging steam engines. The idea with this … Read more