L&N Cumberland & Manchester Branch track plan HO

  • Size: 20′ x 30′
  • Scale: HO
  • Minimum Radius: 27″
  • Minimum Aisle Width: 30″
  • Designed by Dan Bourque
O&W SD40-2 9957, Clover, KY

O&W SD40-2 9957 at Clover, KY, May 87 -Stuart Thayer

L&N Logo PlainThe Cumberland & Manchester Branch (C&M for short) was a part of the L&N’s Cumberland Valley Division.  It was located between the large yard and mainline at Corbin, KY and the principle mine-run yard of Loyall, KY.   The branch, which originated at Heidrick and ran to Manchester, was about 20 miles long and LOADED with loaders, particularly at the end of the branch.  In the height of the coal boom, several unit trains loaded on the branch including the O&W’s “Green Train.”

The Layout

This layout was designed to capture both ends of the branch, the busy area at the end of the branch and the branch’s connection with the Corbin-Norton mainline at Heidrick.   I tried to capture as many loaders as possible without compressing the plan too much.  The minimum radius is 27″ only in the helix, everything visible is 30″ or better.  Switches, on the other hand, might be challenging with mostly #5s and some curved turnouts–hand laying this one would certainly give you more flexibility.  The staging yards (not drawn) would best be built with a few stub tracks and several double-ended tracks to provide continuous running for the mainline.

Track plan L&N C&M Branch HO scale

Operations

Operations on this layout would certainly keep 2-3 operators busy for a few hours.  First, there’s the mainline traffic.  Using a continuous running staging yard would minimize the actual number of trains that would have to be built because trains could be recycled.  There’s also the CV local which would switch the industries at Barboursville.  Next would be a mine run or two from Loyall to switch many of the tipples, and finally, a few unit trains for the big loaders at Redbird, Levi and Debi.  All of this amounts to some pretty interesting operation in a narrow space, I think.

Things I Like About this Plan:

  • Lots of loaders in all shapes and sizes
  • Good mix of mainline and branchline operations
  • Lots of trains for a branchline
  • Not overly compressed
  • No duckunders and efficient use of space

Things I Don’t Like About this Plan:

  • Lots of tight or funny switches
  • Staging might prove to be a little tight

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