Railroads: Model
 08 Dec 2009 
Copyright © 2009-2018 by owner.
 01 Feb 2018 

My Model Railroad: Memories of an Era

B A L T I M O R E   A N D   O H I O

Appellation Subdivision
and joint trackage with the
Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh & Lake Erie (NYC), and Norfolk & Western Railroads

The railroad and the time were real: Baltimore and Ohio, summer of 1955.
Diesels have won the railroad motive-power war, and it's only a matter of time until steam becomes a memory.
Coal, oil, produce, and auto parts ride the rails east to the coast.  Machinery, textiles, and other finished goods roll west to the heartland.
Rail passenger traffic is down, but airlines are on the rise.  And there's talk of building an interstate superhighway system—socialism!
Fortunately, most mail continues to go by rail, since air mail costs nearly double the regular first-class rate of three cents.
Eisenhower is president, Nixon is his v.p., and Senator McCarthy is making a name for himself sniffing out communist sympathizers.
The Giants are in New York, the Dodgers in Brooklyn, the Braves in Milwaukee, and the Cubs in a losing streak.

The place is fictional: the Runnamok Valley somewhere in the Alleghenies
Communities served by the Appellation subdivision and the connecting Clintwood branch may or may not vaguely resemble real ones:
Loughland, Haydn Place, East Clintwood.

The dimension is miniature: HO scale, or 1:87 to be precise.

Photo Tour

The photo tour concentrates on areas that currently have some structures or scenery.  The branch line to East Clintwood is still in the planning stage, so for the time being that leaves Loughland and Haydn Place along the double-tracked main line as the only photo-friendly locations.

 L O U G H L A N D 

Loughland  (pronounced "LOW-l'nd") represents a modest-size city with a population of  perhaps 100,000, located in a river valley twisting through the mountains between Pittsburgh and Cumberland.  It's a (fictitious) division point on the  B&O, where train crews are changed and locomotives are serviced.  The city's Union Station, accessed by a long viaduct, serves four railroads.

Loughland Union Station

Union Station provides interconnecting passenger and express services via the New York Central, Norfolk & Western, Baltimore & Ohio, and Pennsylvania railroads.

From here, the tracks run a short distance east to Colbin, where the railroads diverge on their separate ways to the Atlantic coast.  In the other direction (behind the camera), a divergence is planned near the west end of Elbonia yard, but currently all passenger traffic remains on B&O tracks as far as Haydn Place.
(In this photo, the tracks and platforms are in, but the station itself has yet to be built.)

Loughland's Union Station has no specific prototype, but is envisioned along the lines of Union Station in Dayton, Ohio, whose tracks are elevated above street level.

Loughland Viaduct

The double-tracked concrete viaduct carries passenger trains to and from Union Station, running parallel to the freight line and yard at ground level.  Here the B&O's Columbian accelerates westbound toward Chicago via Pittsburgh.


 E L B O N I A 

Situated south of the viaduct, Elbonia is an industrial district of Loughland.  It's the site of B&O's freight classification yard, locomotive roundhouse, and a refrigerator car icing facility, plus local industries.


Elbonia-east engine facility:

Incoming EM-1 (2-8-8-4) #7629 clambers onto the turntable to enter the roundhouse for overnight maintenance.  At the left, a pair of DF-3's (EMD F3) take on fuel and sand.

Except for the occasional breakdown emergency, B&O's Elbonia engine facility services freight power only.

Elbonia-east engine facility:

S-1a (2-10-2) #6206 pauses at the coaling tower for "topping-off" before backing out to the yard to pick up a freight eastbound for Colbin.  A DF-5 (EMD F7) purrs at idle on the diesel service track to the left.

Locomotives are routinely serviced on arrival, but fuel and water are topped off before departure.

The coaling tower used to serve steam power on three tracks, but now that diesel facilities have been installed on the left, the coaling chutes on the external wall of the tower have been removed.

Elbonia freight yard:

It's busy this morning, in this general view of the east end of the yard.  Two trains of hoppers—an eastbound with loads and a westbound with empties—have arrived for a change of power and crews.  A third, the eastbound "Time-Saver" (center track), has exchanged a few cars for local pick-up and delivery, and is now ready to release brakes and get rolling once more.

The yard's DS-11e (EMD NW2) switcher waits on the caboose track for the freight to clear before getting back to its chores.  Emergency relief equipment, including a 200-ton crane, is parked on its usual standby siding on the left.

Lighter-colored ballast marks the double-track main line, which splits to go around the yard on both sides.

Elbonia freight yard:

Q-4b (2-8-2) #4468 has arrived with the morning eastbound local freight from East Clintwood.  The engine will visit the coal and water facilities before being turned to haul the afternoon westbound back up the branch line.

Elbonia: "I-know-very-well-that-I-can" greets "I-think-I-can."

The largest steam locomotive on my roster (EM-1 articulated #7629), hauling an eastbound freight on the main line, is about to eclipse the smallest (D-30 switcher #1182), standing in the classification yard.



Hopper trains meet—empties westbound to the mines, loads eastbound to the coast—a many-times-a-day sight in the 1950s.  No wonder the B&O is nicknamed "the steel conveyor belt"!

Elbonia-west: Fahr-Fecht Fabrications

The Fahr-Fecht fabricating plant is one of those industries that started small in the early 1900s and expanded during each of the World Wars.  A sheen on the pavement and the cinder parking lot suggests there's been a recent rain shower.  To the left we glimpse a class T-3 (4-8-2) hustling eastward with a string of loaded refrigerator cars.

Elbonia-west: oil depot

This bulk oil distributor's main business is motor fuel.  Since this is coal country, heating oil hasn't yet caught on with homeowners.  The depot is located across the street from the Fahr-Fecht plant, and the same rail siding serves both.


 N E W   B O B H A R T 

Currently in the imagineering stage (hence no pictures), New Bobhart will be located on the north side of the viaduct, cradled in the "elbow" of Elbonia, and adjacent to the interlocking where freight and passenger traffic converge.  Although there are no tracks planned for New Bobhart, it serves two purposes.  Its aesthetic function is anticipated as a working-class neighborhood, with apartment buildings, retailers, and maybe a park.  Its practical function is to keep any derailed rolling stock on the curved portion of the viaduct from falling to the concrete floor.  Parts of it will have to remain open, though, to allow standing room for the 1:1-scale building and maintenance crew (me).

 H A Y D N   P L A C E 

This small town is the last stop westbound before the Clintwood branch diverges to the south and the main bores into a tunnel on its way to Pittsburgh.  The Haydn Place depot is on the B&O main line, but also serves passenger traffic from the PRR, NYC, and N&W, which have passenger trackage rights from here through Loughland's Union Station.  (The depot buildings are models of those at the former Winton Place depot in Cincinnati, which served these same four railroads.)

Haydn Place depot:

Norfolk & Western's westbound Powhatan Arrow, headed by J (4-8-4) #611, brakes for a station stop during an early construction phase at the depot.

Some minimal scenery later, we see the Pennsylvania's Broadway Limited arriving.  The lead unit, #5700, is one of only a handful of E8's that PRR acquired with the Mars-light option, likely as EMD demonstrator units.

A panoramic view catches all four buildings in the depot ensemble.  (Yeah, the prototype crossing shanty looks cockeyed, too!)  One of B&O's new passenger-geared RSE-4c's (EMD GP7) charges through with a Pittsburgh-bound mail train.

Modeler's license:  Though there are (in 1955) real-world places (in Ohio and perhaps elsewhere) where the Baltimore and Ohio shares trackage with the Pennsylvania, the New York Central, and the Norfolk and Western, to my knowledge there's no place in the Allegheny region where all four of these railroads operate over the same rails.  In the Pittsburgh area, the B&O shares trackage rights with the PRR and the P&LE (part of the NYC System), as well as the Erie.  And an N&W branch intersects the B&O at Hagerstown, Maryland, though none of N&W's name passenger trains operate on that branch.  Still, this is my railroad, and I'll run whatever I please on it!

 E A S T   C L I N T W O O D 

The single-track Clintwood branch is still in the "imagineering" stage, so no photos are available.  The overall grade is determined, space for major track curves has been allotted, and the general theme is envisioned as a mountainous coal-mining area.  The town of East Clintwood is expected to feature a small passenger depot, a turning wye, a yard, and presumably some local industry.  The yard will serve for sorting loads and empties for local businesses, and as a distribution-collection point for coal hoppers headed to and from mines farther up the branch.  Since this is coal country, I expect it to be a hold-out for light steam power—mostly Q-3 and Q-4 class 2-8-2's, with a class P 4-6-2 for twice-daily commuter-and-mail runs.

More later...