L&N Crummies Creek Branch, KY track plan HO

  • Size: 7′ x 20′
  • Scale: HO
  • Minimum Radius: 27″
  • Minimum Aisle Width: 30″
  • Designed by Dan Bourque

L&N Logo PlainThe L&N had coal branches of many sizes and varieties. The Crummies Creek Branch was one of the shorter coal branches on the Cumberland Valley Division, but it was home to several loaders all packed into a small area. The Crummies Creek Branch split from the Martins Fork main at Popeville, south of the yard at Loyall, Kentucky. It was the southernmost of the coal branches on the Martins Fork, and its profile was strange because it dropped down from the main before climbing again. Shortly after leaving the main, the Lick Branch Spur split from the Crummies Creek and ducked back under the Martins Fork main before heading to the loader at Three Point. In the coal boom of the ’70s, no fewer than 6 loaders (including 2 flood loaders) were keeping the L&N busy on only a few miles of track.

The Layout

This layout is designed to fit as much HO layout as possible into a narrow area. There is no room for a peninsula or even a loop and an aisle. I chose to make this a double-deck layout with the Crummies Creek on top and Lick Branch Spur on the bottom. That meant a good chunk of real estate would be consumed by the helix, but it would give more running room to the trains. Staging is tucked under the Crummies Creek Branch, but the end is exposed near the doorway to mitigate the potential for accidents in the hidden trackage. There is a nod under on the upper level, but it is designed to swing away behind the door when not in use. All loaders circa 1975 are represented, along with the small ammonium nitrate facility at the end of the branch.

Track plan L&N Crummies Creek Branch HO scale

Operations

With such a small aisle, any more than 2 would be a crowd on this layout, but 2 operators could certainly stay busy for an hour or two. The layout could justify 3-4 trains in a day, two to serve the Karen and Libby flood loaders and two to serve the single car loading tipples. A loaded unit train could be staged at Karen to start the session. After running back to staging, a Crummies Creek mine run could work the loaders on the upper deck. While the Crummies mine run is working, a unit train bound for Libby could be backed out of staging, through the split at Cawood and down to the lower deck. Yes, unit trains for both Karen and Libby were backed up the branches on the prototype. The unit train operator would slowly run the train under the tipple dropping loads in each–not exactly prototypical, but what can you do? After the Libby unit train cleared out, a “Roustabout” crew coud work the tipple at Three Point and perhaps some remaining spots like the ammonium nitrate facility on the Crummies Creek Branch. To end the day, a Karen unit train could be backed under the loader ready for loading and the next session. Not bad for a sleepy Kentucky coal branch.

Things I Like About this Plan:

  • Lots of variety in loaders
  • Decent amount of operation for a small space

Things I Don’t Like About this Plan:

  • Nod-under
  • Limited aisle space
  • Helix takes up a lot of room

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