Norfolk & Western, Pocahontas District

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NW LogoMy layout freelances a fictious portion of the N&W Pocahontas District between Bluefield, WV. and Williamson WV. Set in the scenery of the Appalachian Mountains with twisting mainlines, hauling coal was the mainstay of operations on the prototype, but my layout incorporates an equal amount of freight traffic.

Construction on the layout began in October, 2020. Using spline roadbed construction throughout, all track is installed and operational. Basic scenic landforms are in with cardboard building mockups in place, and scenery construction is pending.

Set in 1966, the "Pokey" features 1st and 2nd generation diesels that are all sound equipped with ESU LokSound decoders and Keep Alive capacitors for reliable operation. Momentum is set modestly to provide prototype realism, and independent brakes are available for those times when stopping distance is misjudged!

Bluefield and Williamson are represented by staging yards at each end of the layout. The mainline is a double track dog bone with numerous crossovers to keep traffic flowing. During op sessions a train run by the dispatcher (layout owner) circulates the 742' mainline loop continuously, providing traffic that enhances the prototype "feel" of the railroad. All turnouts are hand laid Fast Track turnouts, or hand laid custom curved turnouts built in place. Rail is Atlas code 83 flex track.

Ops on the "Pokey" are meant to be relaxed, low stress, and maximum fun for the operators. Trains follow a sequence schedule. Dispatching is laid back, informal verbal authority. Car forwarding is handled by simple and easy to read car cards and waybills. Train cards for each job are given to operators so they know where their train is to go, and what switching it needs to do. Deciding how to do the switching however, is left up to each operator to decide.

Beside mainline coal drags and through freights, there are four local coal shifter jobs to service the six tipples on the layout, six local freights to service other industries on the layout, and one local passenger train. Mainline trains run 24-30 cars, and locals typically run 6-12 cars. A yardmaster handles the main freight yard, but may also run locals if they finish their switching early. In that case, the next local that comes into the yard becomes the new yardmaster, mixing things up a bit, and providing fun variety for the operators.

Layout control is via wireless NCE push button throttles. The layout is also Wi-Fi compatible, for those who prefer to use Wi-Fi throttles or throttle apps on their cell phones.

Click this link to see a: Norfolk & Western Pocahontas District Track Plan

Superintendent Paul Krentz
Division or Location: West Virginia
Interchange Railroads: N/A
Size of Railroad: Four decks. Four legged "E" shape. 14'x23'
Scale: HO
Era: 1966
Control System: NCE
Scale Clock Speed: N/A
Length of Session: 3-4 hours. (Crew lounge with seating for breaks if desired.)
Number of Crew: 4 + Dispatcher (Layout owner)
Train Control: Informal Verbal Authority
Are Radios Required: No
Listed Jobs: Yardmaster, 3 mainline through freights, 2 coal drags, 4 local coal shifters, 6 local freights, 1 passenger.
Accessibility: Split level house. 7 steps down to layout level. Carpeted layout floor. ("No shoe" house. Slippers preferred. Shoe covers provided if needed.)
Distance from hotel: 13 miles
Estimated travel time from hotel: 17 minutes
Web Site: None. But construction blog hosted on mrhmag.org
Pets: 1 non-allergenic Bichon Poodle, kept separate from op session.

Layout photos (click to enlarge):

Keystone: Tubs Hollar Mine & Prep Plant
 
East End of Kimball Yard
 
West End of Kimball Yard
 
Big Four - HenCo Nitrate & Park Ridge Coal Co.
Van Lear Mine
 
Sandy Huff
 
Auville Coal Yard
 
laeger - Vos Loader
 
Vedra - Cumberland Coal Co.
 
Wharncliffe - Coal Interchange & Pocahontas Coal Co.
Gilbert
 
Justice
 

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