Friday, July 10, 2020

Inspiration- Part 3

Most of the scenes and structures on the railroad have been copied from the prototype in some form or fashion. It has often taken me a long time to find the right combination of structures and/or scenes in order to finish a particular area of the layout. By copying the prototype, at least to some degree, the scenes end up looking plausible and "right" in my eye. I've never been able to create something out of whole cloth that achieved the look I wanted.

A case in point is the collection of yard structures at Nelsonville. There has been an old wooden coach there for years that serves as the yard office. It's a wooden model that my Stepfather built many years ago. I painted it grey, added some roof details, and was planning to blank some windows, add a window air conditioner, and other details but lost interest at some point. You can see the structure here at the beginning of the video: The intent with this structure was to copy a similar scene at Sproul, WV on the C&O. But there's just too much wrong with the old car to make it work. So the plan now is to copy the yard office at Elk Run Jct. which can be seen in the photo below by Jonathan Spurlock. The shanty on the right in the picture has already been built and is in service at Nelsonville.

There will be several structures along the tracks to the west of the yard office and I've been kicking around ideas for this area for a long time. I looked long and hard at the structures in the yard at Thurmond, WV but came to the conclusion that there just wasn't enough room. Also, the track by the yard office is a runner and not a RIP track like the one in Thurmond, so most of the structures wouldn't have been appropriate.

So next came the idea of some type of crew quarters. I have a number of photos and plans for C&O section gang houses, and these seemed like they might work. However, most of these are two room structures with an addition on the back. I would have to skip the addition as there isn't room for it. For that reason, I wasn't completely sold on this idea.

And then came the photo. Robert Slavy posted a photo of a bunkhouse at Quinnimont, WV on the C&O Fans Facebook page. I have never seen a photo of this structure before in any of the books I have on the C&O or in any of the articles on Quinnimont that appeared in the C&OHS Magazine. This was it- finally! And it was built  to the same design standard as the other structures I have already planned to use in the Nelsonville engine terminal!

As an aside, Robert Slavy has an incredible collection of photos that he took in and around C&O locations in West Virginia in the 1960's and '70's. He grew up in Pineville, WV and worked for many years in the region. He also has some great photos and videos of the Virginian Railway in and around Mullens and Elmore, WV. I met Robert at a Virginian Crazies weekend several years ago and he's a great guy.

Back to the bunk house. The picture below shows the structure sometime in the mid-1970's.

Note the board and batten siding so common on lineside structures on the C&O. And note the longitudinal board just above the window. This same style of architecture was used on many C&O buildings, including some of the ones in Hinton, WV. I scratch-built several of the Hinton structures based upon drawings by William Simonson that were published in Model Railroad back in the early 1990's. They can be seen in the photos below.

Two of the bunkhouses will fit perfectly in the space between the yard office and the motor car shed. Now all I have to do is get them built!

And, thanks Robert, not only for this picture, but also the many others that you have shared from your collection of C&O and VGN pictures. As many others have suggested, there's a book waiting to be written with all of your shots.


  1. Hi Tom, I've been reading your blog for a couple years now - thanks for sharing all your great work. I love the layout - it's my favorite coalfields modeling I've seen. You've really paid attention to a lot of key visuals and it's definitely convincing. I felt compelled to comment as I've been working on and off on the Elk Run Jct. yard office for the last year (I don't get things done quickly!). I've found a number of photos online and in books of the office over the years, but never the backside - did you end up with any? I also can't tell if that shed on the near end of the office is attached - I assume it isn't but I can't tell. Anyhow I look forward to seeing your version. Thanks again for sharing.

    1. Thanks for the kind words about the railroad, Ole. Unfortunately, I don't have any photos of the back of the yard office. And that's the side that will be visible from the aisle! I plan to use the same windows that appear in the photos along with a door of some type. I checked the C&OHS files and there's a picture of the yard office showing that the shed is attached. I have no idea when it was added to the structure.

    2. Hi Tom, interesting - we'll have to compare our two freelanced guesses! I went with a more utilitarian version it sounds like. I think this could be a good motivation to get back to the model and do some work. Where would you look to find light shades like the ones on this building?

    3. Here's a link to Tichy Train Parts lamp reflectors: I've used these on a lot of my structures.

  2. Hi Tom, I wanted to send along a photo of my basically-finished version of the Elk Run Jct. yard office but couldn't find your email address. Here's a link instead.
    I don't want to show you the back - I think it'll be interesting to compare our guesses after you finish!