- Size: 28′ x 30′
- Scale: HO
- Minimum Radius: 30″
- Minimum Aisle Width: 30″
- Designed by Dan Bourque
The Chesapeake & Ohio’s New River District was enormous and encompassed numerous coal marshaling yards and dozens of branches (“subs” in C&O lingo). The C&O’s double-track mainline ran through the heart of the New River District from Deepwater, WV to Hinton, WV. The marshaling yard at Thurmond, WV sat on the mainline in the middle of the district. It served not only as a yard but also as a base for numerous nearby branches including the South Side Branch, the Loup Creek Sub, the White Oak Sub, Keeney’s Creek Sub, Hawks Nest Sub, Gauley Sub, Rend Sub, Glen Jean Sub and White Oak Railroad (joint line with the Virginian). These branches snaked out from Thurmond and gathered coal from dozens of mines in the New River Field. In addition to coal, this line was also an important route for other merchandise freight and even passenger trains.
This is one of my favorite trackplans! The layout represents the Thurmond and the mainline east toward Quinnimont along with parts of five branches (South Side Branch, Keeney’s Creek, Rend, Loup Creek and White Oak) in the 1940s and 50s. The double-track main leaves the long, winding yard at Thurmond and follows the bank of the New River with the South Side Branch on the other bank. At Sewell, one main crosses the river and joins the South Side Branch on its way to Hinton like the prototype. The track layouts at the tipples is as prototypical as possible based on track charts. However, this plan sacrifices some of the tipples on a branch to allow parts of more branches to be included. For example, the Loup Creek Sub is cut short on the upper deck to allow the inclusion of the White Oak Sub and the interchange with the Virginian at Carlisle on the White Oak Railroad. While this branch was jointly owned by the Virginian and C&O, in practice the Virginian would take C&O empties dropped off at Carlisle, take them to the tipples on the line and bring loads back to Carlisle.
Operations on this layout could keep several operators busy for hours. Operations would be pretty evenly split between mainline and the branchlines. A dispatcher and yard crew at Thurmond would be a must. Trains of empty hoppers would leave staging to follow the New River to Thurmond where they would be blocked into mine runs. Six mine runs would leave Thurmond throughout the ops session bound for the various branches (5 for the branches, 1 to work the main). Each mine run would have 2-5 tipples to work before returning to Thurmond with loads to be marshaled and sent on to Hinton (staging). In addition to the mine runs and coal drags, a few mixed freights and the occasional passenger train would create some additional interest.
One of the challenges of operating this layout would be the New River–even though it’s not modeled to scale, it still puts several of the loaders out of comfortable arms reach (about 3 feet from the aisle). This might necessitate the use of Kadee uncoupling ramps or some similar method of uncoupling to work those loaders.
Things I Like About this Plan:
- Great potential for operations with 6 mine runs
- Long, curved, skinny layout of Thurmond yard
- Loaders of every size and variety
- Keeney’s Creek Sub gets to upper level without a helix
- Potential for lots of staging and continuous running underneath
- Lots of spots where the aisles open up to make room for operators
Things I Don’t Like About this Plan:
- Some tracks are out-of-reach
- Four track helix to get to staging
- New River too narrow
- Narrow aisle near part of Thurmond