C&O NYC Leivasy, WV track plan HO

  • Size: 11′ x 12′
  • Scale: HO
  • Minimum Radius: 24″ 
  • Minimum Aisle Width: 30″
  • Designed by Dan Bourque

C&O LogoLeivasy, West Virginia lay at the end of the Kanawha & Eastern Sub, part of the paper railroad Nicholas, Fayette & Greenbriar, a cooperative effort between the Chesapeake & Ohio and New York Central (see NF&G track plan for more details). The extension to Leivasy was a latecomer to the railroad, only completed in the late 1960s. In a small space, the railroad branched from a wye to serve three good sized tipples and a small lumber mill.

The Layout

This track plan represents the Leivasy area circa 1970 when all tipples and the lumber yard were operating. While exact track layouts are difficult to assess from the aerial photos and topo maps available, the plan contains a portion of the lumber mill and all three major loaders plus a small truck dump at the end of the line (all visible in aerial photos). Radii are tight (24″) to fit into a small space, but as this was a small area on the prototype, compression is reasonable. The biggest compromise is the orientation of the tipples at Leivasy is flipped 180 degrees (the hillside on the prototype was on the aisle side) to better capture the tipples and to avoid reaching over the tipples to work the tracks.

Staging is not drawn, but it is envisioned that a two-turn helix would lead down to a 2- or 3-track staging yard below Leivasy representing the NF&G’s main yard at Rainelle, WV. Because of the small size of this layout and the need for only train at a time, it could easily be operated using any control system (DC, DCC or otherwise) with walk-around throttles. Construction would be simple, and the layout could likely be suspended from the walls using sturdy brackets, allowing space for storage or other activities underneath.

C&O NYC Leivasy, WV track plan HO


Operations on this layout would require many moves and take 1-2 operators around a hour or two to work all the tracks. A mine run would leave Rainelle Yard (staging) with three or so four-axle units, about 25 empty hoppers and a few boxcars and empty flatcars for the lumber mill. Three units (or more) would be needed because the initial grade from Leivasy toward Rainelle was against loads. Upon reaching wye, the mine run might first work Peterson. To do so, the train would need to pull into Leivasy past the wye to drop the cab and Peterson empties before shoving the remaining empties back up the wye. After dropping the cab against the loads in front of the tipple, the empties could be shoved to the empty tracks at the end of the line. After coming back past the tipple, the engines would pick up the cab and assemble the loads (for extra operation, a rule that the cab should not be sandwiched between locomotives and loads could be enforced). The loads would be left at the tipple for pick up later.

NYC LogoBack at the wye, the crew would pick up the remaining empties, pull them toward Peterson, and shove them back toward Leivasy, placing them at the lumber yard and in front of the tipples as necessary. Because the line at Leivasy sloped downward to the end, loads would be on the far side of the tipples, away from the wye, and they would be scattered on all tracks all the way to the end of the line. Loads would need to first be cleared from the lumber yard and small tipple at the end before placing empties. Empties for tipple 1 could be placed directly, but empties for tipple 2 would be placed on the long lead adjacent to tipple 1. All of this might require working the empties in several cuts between the wye and Leivasy. Next would come the chore of gathering the loads from both trailing- and facing-point tracks. Because of the lack of a run around at Leivasy, the wye would need to be used to turn cars. Once all the loads were placed in one string with the cab at the end, the final move would be to pick up the Peterson loads, couple up, and head back to Rainelle.

Both the C&O and NYC had trackage rights over this line, but in practice, certain branches were normally served by one road or another. While I have found no photos of this area to confirm my suspicion, I believe this area was served by the C&O. However, it would be highly likely to find both C&O and NYC hoppers at these tipples. For variety and extra operation, the crew could be required to block cars into C&O- and NYC-bound cuts before heading back to Rainelle. Additionally, you could swap out the C&O power for NYC power on occasion. Also, like any area of the coal fields, tipple operations ebbed and flowed with the market, so certain tipples could be idled for some “downturn” sessions while other sessions could be run with so many hoppers that all tracks are full.

Things I Like About this Plan:

  • Lots of operation in a small space
  • Two railroads adds variety
  • Non-coal traffic with the lumber mill

Things I Don’t Like About this Plan:

  • Tight radius curves
  • Orientation of tipples flipped at Leivasy

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