Roger Sekera’s Clinch Valley Lines
Andrew Dodge

The original inspiration Roger drew for his HO scale Clinch Valley Lines (CVL) came from a photo taken in the fall of 1972 of a set of Louisville and Nashville diesels heading-up a freight train on the Norfolk and Western.  Based on a freelanced prototype railroad and set in 1959 Appalachia, Roger has developed an interesting layout designed for operations that is fun to run and visually appealing.  Set in the southwestern area of Virginia, Roger draws heavily upon the prototypes that run in that area, such as the N&W, L&N, SRR, C&O and Clinchfield, to add realism to his layout.

The locomotives and rolling stock operating on the layout add to the air of authenticity to the CVL by depicting the waning years of the transition period.  A 2-8-0 consolidation, which is used only in a motive power emergency, stationed at the Andover yard is the only remaining steam power on the layout.  The CVL has a fleet of GP 7s, F units, and other first-generation diesels to handle all freight and passenger movements.  Other roads also are represented on the layout such as several Southern Railways RS 3s that have trackage rights on the CVL.  Roger has purchased his model locomotives from Life Like, Atlas, and Kato because of their reliability.  All of the rolling stock reflects the pre-1959 time period including the remove of glad hand air connectors from all rolling stock to better replicate the era.  Even the types of trains adhere to the period with an emphasis on the movement of freight and the declining importance of passenger service.

Scheduled freight service on Roger’s layout is evenly split between the movement of coal and general merchandise with the center of operations in the area around Bluefield, West Virginia, and Big Stone Gap, Virginia.  The subdivision yards at Andover features the most interesting operational portion of the layout with a classification yard and scales for weighing cars for proper billing to the shipper.  The branch going to the town of St. Paul also supplements operational interests to the layout with the addition of a number of different industrial sidings that require the railroad to service with box and refrigerator cars.  One of the most usual industries on the layout is the Roberts Burlap mill in Wise, Virginia, which produces finished burlap used, even today, in coal mines for airflow control.  To aid the movement of trains during operating sessions, Roger has constructed two large staging yards at both ends of the layout to represent “off the layout” destinations. 

Roger likes to operate his layout with Railcommand controls and is a member of an operating group that meets at different member’s layouts several times a year.  The CVL was part of ProRail 2010 and was featured in the January 2012 Dispatchers Office magazine.  The CVL has been running for more than five years and has been operated almost 20 times during that period.  Under Steve King’s guidance, the CVL has instituted Time Table Train Order or TTTO with 12 trains on the timetable and additional six to seven extras run during an operational session.  In an additional effort to achieve prototype realism, Roger creates all his car movement cards and waybills on a 1950s vintage mechanical typewriter, which was on display during the open house.  In an additional effort to reflect the pace of railroading during the period, all turnouts are hand thrown.  The pace of operations is purposely slowed to reflect the period and the lack of competition. 

The layout proved to be a big draw for Potomac Division modelers.  Despite the good weather and the draw to do outdoorsy things, 42 members, wives, and relatives came to visit.  Everyone had a good time and shared in the fellowship of model railroading.

Coal mine on Roger's layout
Roger's work area
Town and miner cabins on Roger's layout
visitor inspects junction

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