US-501, seen here in the foreground, follows the James River subdivision as it passes through the small mountain community of Waugh Virginia.
At Coleman Falls Virginia, named for a nearby water fall in the river, the James River Subdivision clings tightly to its namesake.
As the old saying goes “better late than never”! We arrived just in time to catch the caboose of this westbound empty hopper train passing the depot at Big Island, Virginia.
At the West End of Major siding, Westbound Extra 5912 encounters a Yellow over Red (Approach) signal aspect. This approach signal indication governing Extra 5912’s movement, informs the engineer that he must approach the next signal (Snowden MP 171.1) not to exceed 30 MPH and to be prepared to stop.
At milepost 170.0 the James River Subdivision once again crosses its namesake. The plate girder bridge at this location was installed in 1956 to eliminate a severe “S” curve in the right-of-way and an ageing through truss bridge.
The C&O began to paint their cabooses “Federal Yellow” in the late 1950s; by 1965 they were commonplace system wide. Here we see the tail end of a westbound empty hopper train passing “M” Cabin.
The Union Switch & Signal Co.’s type R-2 colorlight intermediate signals at MP 171.1 stand proudly grading there respective blocks.
A peaceful August afternoon canoeing down the James River was shattered when eastbound train #90 “The Expediter” roars by at track speed. Although predominantly coal traffic, the James River Subdivision did host four daily manifest trains that ran between Chicago and Richmond.
Looking West down the James River Subdivision we see the CTC controlled Home Signals for the West End of the Big Island siding.
Details such as these concrete signal foundations add another layer of prototypical 'eye candy' to each scene modeled. Enhancing the overall believability!
The old Big Island depot served the C&O well for many years. In its early days it served passengers, but by the time this late 1965 photo was taken it simply served as an office for the local freight agent and the occasional LCL shipment. As one can imagine by all the switches seen in this photo, Big Island is a major location generating plenty of revenue for the two local freights that worked this line daily.
A wise railroad executive was once asked “what was the three most important parts of running a railroad”. He responded “drainage, drainage, and drainage”. Without a strong and stable sub-grade a railroad cannot handle the tons of freight that must traverse over it. To that end the C&O maintain literally hundreds of retaining walls along its Right-of-Way. Used railroad ties serve as the perfect material for constructing these important walls.
With much of the railroad, particularly west of Russell Kentucky, located in floodplains, a unique standard on the C&O was to elevate relay cases to protect them against flood damage. These “elevated cases” were equipped with platforms to provide easy and safe access for Signal Department employees.
In the early 1960s the C&O began installing propane (LP) operated switch heaters on many of their power operated switches. Switch heaters help minimized problems with the associated power operated switch caused by ice and snow be maintaining a clear and open switch point. This effort when a long way to minimize costly train delays due to snow packed switch points during winter operations.
Behind the big Island depot we see an “H” fixture with a line “patch box”. During periods of disruption to the railroad's pole line priority circuits can be rerouted by use of jumpers between Jack's located in these patch boxes.
It's not surprising with over 27 G.E. type U25-B series locomotives on the C&O’s roster that they were considered commonplace on the James River Subdivision.
Prior to March of 1985 Federal law required all wayside signals to be placed to the right of the track they governed. Where track centers are to close, 13 feet 6 inches or less, signal bridges are employed allowing the governing signal to be placed above and to the right of the governing track.
The Maintainer call feature was simply a light that the dispatcher could illuminate on the side of a relay house located at each interlocking in question. The dispatcher would flip the maintainer call toggle switch on the CTC machine to the “on” position he would then press the code start button to activate this feature
One important point though, the term "Maintainer Call" is a bit misleading! The C&O’s Book of Rules required ANY employee observing the light lit to immediately communicate with the train dispatcher. Phone boxes such as these up and down the C&O’s Right-of-Way, were key components to that communication.
Train # 98 “The Pot Yard Train” has just passed the West End of the CTC's siding at Big Island Virginia on its way east to Richmond. This train carries interchange traffic bound for the Richmond Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad’s massive Potomac yard in Richmond Virginia.
The unfinished scenery in the area representing the west side industrial area of Lynchburg Virginia.
The unfinished scenery in the area representing the east side industrial area of Lynchburg Virginia at Washington Street.
The East End local (Train #63) passing over Washington Street. The automatic crossing gates where installed here in the summer of 1957 by the signal construction force out of Clifton Forge
The unfinished scenery in the area representing the West side industrial area of Lynchburg Virginia at Black Water Creek.
Without a doubt the most important focus in constructing of the Clifton Forge Division was the Centralized Traffic Control (CTC) system. All wayside signals were custom-built for the Clifton Forge division by the skilled craftsmen of Tomar industries to exact C&O specifications.
Looking east across the N&W diamond at “ND” Cabin in the downtown Lynchburg Virginia. This important junction is staffed 24/7 and shows in the employee's timetable as a continuously opened train order office.
Looking west from Washington Street towards “ND” Cabin and the unfinished scenery of downtown Lynchburg Virginia.
At Kelly Virginia there is a local satellite wood yard. The agent at Lynchburg will bill these cars to the West Virginia Pulp and Paper's Companies massive paper mill at Covington Virginia via C&O rails all the way.
An overview of the satellite wood yard at Kelly Virginia on the upper level.
An eastbound train #94, is in emergency at Waugh Virginia on the James River Subdivision. The author suspects that the emergency application of the air brakes was simply an elaborate scheme on the part of the westbound train crew to stop and grab a sandwich and a cold soda at Mitchell's store across the way.
With the last order of EMD GP-9’s delivered to the C&O in the late 1950’s, many of the older units received a simplified paint scheme by the early 1960s. Here a matching pair of GP’s heads east with a loaded coal train in the 1960s simplified paint scheme just west of Waugh Virginia.
Extra 5843 East has just passed the power operated switch and CTC relay house for the West End of Big Island Virginia siding
The C&O installed Centralized Traffic Control (CTC) on the James River Subdivision between 1949 and 1953 to help better handle the heavy coal traffic. With the Train Dispatcher at Clifton Forge controlling the entire 119 mile long subdivision this installation was state-of-the-art for its time.
At Major Virginia the C&O maintains an open train order office (M Cabin). Here we see the operator, in a time old railroad tradition, greeting an eastbound loaded coal train.
Remains of the James River Canal Company can be found at Snow Creek. Here the original canals aqueduct which once carried barges over top of Snow Creek now carries tons of West Virginia real estate towards the east for export to foreign markets.
At Major Virginia deep in the heart of the George Washington national Forest we find Battery Creek running alongside the James River Subdivision.
At MP 171.1 one can find a spectacular scenic view, and an occasional train.
An Eastbound loaded coal train, Extra 5843, interrupts a local fisherman's R&R time on a hot afternoon in August 1965.