INT N&W Norton, VA track plan HO

  • Size: 20′ x 22′
  • Scale: HO
  • Minimum Radius: 30″
  • Minimum Aisle Width: 30″
  • Designed by Dan Bourque

N&W Logo blue PlainNorton, VA was an important interchange point between three railroads: the L&N, the N&W, and the Interstate (Southern). The large yard was maintained by the N&W, but operated by both the N&W and L&N. Between two and four merchandise trains were exchanged daily between the two, while the rest of the traffic was coal. Until 1973, the L&N interchanged its Clinchfield-bound coal to the Interstate RR at Dorchester Jct (just west of Norton), and the Interstate hauled it to the Clinchfield at Miller Yard. Between 1973 and 1984, this coal was run directly to the CRR over the N&W’s line from Norton to St Paul. The Interstate operated a small yard east of Norton and served several mines in the area. The Interstate’s mine runs came from Andover Yard several miles west of Norton to serve the Dixiana branch shown in this plan. With the trackage rights agreements between the N&W and L&N, the Interstate’s line east of Norton saw only trace traffic in the form of Plate “C” or larger cars being interchanged between the L&N and CRR.

The Layout

This layout is one of my earlier attempts, and I would probably make a lot of changes if I were designing a similar layout for this space today; however, this layout still has elements with potential. The focus of the layout is the N&W’s yard at Norton, VA, but the secondary focus is the Interstate’s mainline and coal branch (Glamorgan/Dixiana Branch). The L&N is a tertiary player but still important.

Interstate Logo PlainThe Interstate branch is very compressed and omits a few miles of rail and loaders between Norton and Holton, VA–it focuses on the ends of the branches. The N&W yard is modeled fairly well with several of the small industries that surrounded the yard and a couple of coal loaders. Staging is shown directly under the layout, but there’s enough room for a pair of short helixes to bring the staging down several inches to make it more accessible (which is recommended). The intent is to connect the staging yards to make a continuous running loop. Due to the layout’s size, a larger DCC system and booster(s) are recommended.

Track plan INT N&W Norton, VA HO scaleOperations

This layout would work well for 3 people, one to run each railroad. The Interstate crew would be doing mostly switching, the N&W crew would be doing a lot of classification, and the L&N crew would be doing a lot of just running trains. The Interstate would run 3-4 trains daily: 1-2 to work the branch, 2 or so to work Norton and take interchange traffic to the Clinchfield represented by Miller Yard staging (lower left). The N&W would have a yard crew utilizing a pair of 6-axles as switchers (the yard was on a grade). The crew would mostly build mine runs for points east of Norton and classify coal inbound from the St Paul staging and cars dropped off by the L&N (including a bit of merchandise as well as coal), and the industries would add a lot more switching.

L&N operations would depend on the era. Pre ’73, 1-2 scheduled trains per day would make the trip from Corbin, KY to Norton. For a post-’73 session, L&N coal trains would run through on the N&W and could be easily “recycled” in the continuous staging to represent as many trains as desired.

Things I Like About This Plan:

  • Lots of operations
  • Different “personalities” in operations for each of the three railroads
  • Varying operations based on era
  • N&W yard modeled well
  • Option for continuous running loop via staging

Things I Don’t Like About This Plan:

  • Severe compression of Interstate’s branches
  • Lack of a singular focus to the layout
  • Mainline crews must work around the large peninsula or duck-under it

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