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Overview of the HO Scale
Clifton Forge Division

The premise is that my HO Scale model of the C&O Railway’s Clifton Forge Division is a model of a real railroad in August 1965. It has rolling stock, trains, locomotives, and scenes representative of the prototype. Rail cars carry freight and people to places that they are needed. Because of the need, there is some degree of urgency meaning those cars / trains need to be moved as expeditiously as practical. The main objective of the operating session will be to make it a prototypical experience for all involved!

There are three main subdivisions that make up the Clifton Forge Division, the Alleghany, Mountain, and James River Subdivisions. Although the Alleghany and Mountain subdivisions are modeled in the area around Clifton Forge between Low Moor and JD Cabin it was decided that the James River subdivision would be the primary focus of this layout. Because of its single track operations with the bulk of the C&O’s heavy coal traffic heading down its gentle eastbound grade, with an abundance of local switching it is perfectly suited for a medium to large size model railroad.

There was no regularly-scheduled First Class passenger trains on this particular subdivision; and the 2nd class, local passenger service was discontinued in 1957. However in 1965 (the year modeled) coal and manifest traffic was abundant with two local freights working hard from both ends of the line.

By 1965 there was 1st Class mainline passenger service on the Alleghany and Mountain subdivisions and the only passenger service on the James River Sub was the October excursions hosted by the Old Dominion Chapter of the N.R.H.S. These excursions, pulled by Geeps, were called "Autumn Leaf Specials" and ran up and back between Richmond and Clifton Forge in the same day. For the James River Sub, in 1965 (the year modeled) coal and manifest traffic were the norm and two local freights working local industry from both ends of the line.

C&O Clifton Forge division timetable number two showing the Alleghany, Mountain, and James River subdivisions.
Stations highlighted in yellow are modeled.

My lifelong impression of the Railroad Operations along the James River has been a medium to low density trains slowly traveling along the river....a good compliment to the Scene itself....a lazy meandering river, huge old sycamores leaning over the river bank, cows and crops in the fields, occasionally ducks floating in the river, and remnants of the old JR&K Company’s canal. Hopefully we can make the operations on the railroad model the same?

1960 map of the Clifton Forge Division