L&N K&A Coal Fields track plan HO

  • Size: 22′ x 22′
  • Scale: HO
  • Minimum Radius: 27″
  • Minimum Aisle Width: 30″
  • Designed by Dan Bourque

L&N Logo PlainThis layout represents the L&N’s former Knoxville & Atlanta division south of Corbin. This area is a fantastic blend of coal, mainline traffic and fantastic scenery, and the L&N shared a coal branch with the Southern Railway.

The Layout

L&N SD40 leading TOFC train at Morley, TN, Jan 1979 -Jay Thompson

L&N SD40 leading TOFC train at Morley, TN, Jan 1979 -Jay Thompson

Southern Logo (plain)The layout is designed to represent operations in the ’70s, though some of the loaders like Roosevelt were probably inactive or gone by this time. The lower level represents the mainline from Lot, KY where the Southern joined the L&N to Morley, TN, home of a very small yard. The lower deck is also home to a very compressed version of the Clairfield Branch, a coal branch operated jointly by the L&N and Southern. There were no true CTC sidings on this portion of the railroad, only a few short storage tracks. The swingout near the entrance of the room is for the branchline, so it can be left against the wall until needed.

The upper level represents the mainline from Chaska, TN to La Follette, TN and includes three passing sidings. In the ’70s, when coal traffic heading south picked up along this line, the L&N stationed a helper crew at Chaska to help heavy trains get over Duff Mountain. Chaska is also home to a neat old concrete coaling tower over top of the siding. La Follette was home to the local that worked the Clairfield Branch and hosted a very small yard. The liftout in front of the door on the upper deck is not intended to be moved during the ops session, but it’s high enough to be considered a nod-under for many folks. I’ve also connected the end of the Clairfield Branch at Fonde to the short branch at Morley behind the helix. This gives crews extra room to work the empty tracks at Fonde and enough length for unit trains to pull all the way past Pruden.

The staging level has four separate staging yards.  The first represents the Southern and is a long return loop to make re-staging easy.  The second and third yards are the stub yards representing the L&N at Corbin to the north of the layout and Etowah to the south.  The fourth yard is double-ended and also represents Corbin and Etowah.  Being double-ended, it makes the entire layout a continuous running loop.   This can be used to recycle trains (especially coal drags) during an operating session to keep the mainline busier.

Lower Deck

Track plan L&N K&A Coal Fields HO scale - lower

Upper Deck

Track plan L&N K&A Coal Fields HO scale - upper


Track plan L&N K&A Coal Fields HO scale - staging


Operations on this layout would consist of several trains per day. The majority of the southbound trains, including all the coal trains heading south from Corbin, would be through trains requiring helpers over Duff Mountain (from Chaska to Kilsyth). This line also hosted a handful of non-coal through trains. Other operations would consist of the L&N Clairfield Branch local. This train would be made up in La Follette from empties dropped off by other trains and would make its way all the way around both decks of the layout to serve the branch and loaders in Morley and Roosevelt along the main. I imagine most of the loaded hoppers collected by the local would be left in Morley for heavier power from Corbin to pick up for the journey south. There would also be at least one or two Southern mine runs from the Jellico Branch to traverse the L&N and work a couple of loaders on the Clairfield branch. I don’t have great info on the loaders on the branch, but it looks like there was at least one flood loader, so I’ve included the one at Pruden. This would be a separate train that would perhaps stage loaded under the loader and return empty at the end of the session.  I don’t know what trains loaded at Pruden, but it would be plausible for this loader to service both L&N and Southern trains on different days of the week.

Things I Like About this Plan:

  • Great scenery possibilities
  • Good mainline run (~160 feet visible, ~200 with the helix between Morley and Chaska)
  • Helper operations
  • Wide aisles
  • Good deconfliction between upper and lower deck scenes
  • Staging forms a continuous running loop

Things I Don’t Like About this Plan:

  • Clairfield Branch severely compressed
  • Tight radius in helixes (~27″)
  • Duckunders

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