Bryan Kidd's Chesapeake and Ohio Railway
Alleghany Sub‐Division

May 6th, 2017

Pictures by Jim Kennedy and Mat Thompson


It may seem unusual for a New Englander like myself to have an interest in the C&O, but considering where I was in the early 1960s makes it more understandable. I was in downtown Richmond at the time without transportation, and if I wanted to see trains at all, the closest site was Main Street Station, used by the C&O. At that time, the C&O was big in Richmond. The company’s headquarters was there, and the main line from Newport News split into the mountain sub-division (Charlottesville – Clifton Forge) and the James River sub-division (Lynchburg - Clifton Forge) in the middle of a long viaduct paralleling the river south of downtown. The famous three level crossing (C&O, SAL, and SRR) is also nearby.  

Bryan’s circa 1952 C&O Allegheny Subdivision is a large point to point shelf style layout that runs around the walls of three rooms. It starts at Clifton Forge and extends west to Hinton, West Virginia, giving him the opportunity to run those famous H-8 2-6-6-6 articulated locomotives that had long been replaced by multiple unit EMD GP’s by the time I arrived on the scene. It also includes the Greenbriar Sub-division, a line from Whitcomb, north of Ronceverte, West Virginia on the Greenbriar River, to Durbin and Cass. His main line is a double tracked 145’ run with Shinohara code 83 track and turnouts and a minimum radius of 32”. The turnouts are powered with Tortoise motors and controlled via Loco Net on the main line and by rotary switches in the local yards. Long term plans are for the railroad to be centrally dispatched using CTC run by a computer with JMRI. The railroad owned Greenbriar Hotel at White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, just past the state line, is on the main line; an extension to the large Westvaco Paper Mill complex at Covington, Virginia, and an additional line from Covington to provide mixed-train service to the Homestead at Hot Springs, Virginia, the other large railroad owned resort hotel in the area, are also in the works.

You enter into a long room, one side of which is a long yard/staging area representing Clifton Forge and Covington. One of his DCC/sound equipped H-8’s was chugging up and down moving cars around. If you’re modeling the C&O with their long coal trains you need those long staging tracks to set them up. From there it sweeps around a broad curve into the next room, expands to four tracks (two main, two passing) and enters Allegheny, the center point of the railroad.  The model of the station is there along with a tower, a large turntable (for those H-8’s), and photographs of that section on the wall to document the accuracy of the scene, but little else at this point. The starkness of the location would be typical of the C&O back in the steam days; not much grew in places like that (fortunately, there was no EPA to take soil samples either). There was a pair of E-8’s on a 10 car streamlined C&O train with two Pennsy cars at the rear parked there facing west, no doubt waiting for orders to move on down the line. The railroad continues around the other side of the room where a Kanawah, C&O’s designation for the 2-8-4, was doing some switching of its own at what will eventually be White Sulphur Springs and the Greenbriar Hotel. These versatile locomotives were used with equal success on fast freights and first class passenger trains, the steam version of the GP 7, and served the railroad well in that capacity until they were eventually displaced by the aforementioned diesels. The railroad eventually curves around into Ronceverte. There is a smaller turntable there and more structures, both railroad and town related.  From there it travels around to the third room (Hinton and the end of the sub-division) with another large turntable and more long staging tracks.

In most people’s minds the Appalachians of western Virginia and West Virginia are noted for two things: coal and trees. Fortunately, from an aesthetic point of view the coal is under the trees. The railroad areas themselves have little growth as previously noted, but the surrounding mountains in Bryan’s layout are set to blossom forth with vegetation utilizing pre-fitted sections with large numbers of trees on them. Over the past three years, visits to other Appalachian themed home layouts have convinced me that you can’t have enough trees when you’re modeling that region, and Bryan is following that pattern as well. If the finished product with all the scenery in place looks anything like the beautifully laid and ballasted track work that he has already done, his layout will truly be a showpiece of model railroad design and construction. And to top it all off, Bryan, a retired Navy musician, has even written a song about it, but at the top of the song sheet it says something about “intended for professional singers only,” probably to dissuade people like me from trying to perform it.
Bob Rosenberg