West Virginia - the Mountain State


Keith DeVault's Aspen Subdivision
of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad

Keith DeVault has been chasing the prototype railroads of north central West Virginia since Chessie was a new paint scheme. He and several friends are well acquainted with the B&O on the West End, Sand Patch, and the Sheepskin line that once connected Fairmont, W. Va., with Connellsville, Penna. Over the years, Keith has acquired a collection of HO scale equipment and promised to "some day" build a model railroad. That day finally came around in 2004 as Keith started a layout in his basement. His first attempt was not quite as satisfying as he expected, so he asked a few club members of the Mon Valley Railroad Club of West Virginia for some advice. After a few brainstorming sessions, Keith had a new concept and plan for his layout. Check the progress through the images below.


Doodling trackplans and ideas helped Keith see what his space could handle, but he wasn't sure if all of it could fit until we started placing track components onto the roadbed. In this image, the curving main line has been tacked into place but the yard tracks are held with push pins. This technique helped Keith discover some limitations in the initial doodles and drawings, which led to some adjustments on the fly. The yard trackage was altered for capacity and switching concerns based upon this early view of the track. All it took was a little extra time and some head scratching.

By the way, your layout design will most likely need some adjustments as you lay track or roadbed. Be ready and willing to make compromises for the good of your layout.

The new freight yard.
A new coal mine and processing plant has sprouted up on Keith's layout. Note how the loading tipple is near the throat of the tracks. Strings of empty hoppers would be pushed past the loading area, then pulled back under the tipple for loading. A spare track for loaded cars is just out of sight. Keith located the tracks based upon a number of mines he has visited in northern West Virginia. A shorter track is on the far side of the facility for inbound deliveries of mine equipment, mine props, bagged limestone, and explosives.

A new coal mine is almost ready to load hoppers.

Keith and I hope you've enjoyed this quick tour of his new HO scale layout. Several other model railroad layouts from the north-central West Virginia region are featured at the home page. Take a few minutes for another tour. All aboard!