Image of the C&O for Progress monogram Image of the C&O for Progress monogram A graphic image of the words C&O Piedmont Subdivision

Modeling the C&O

A Tour of My Layout



We’ll start the tour in staging. My first attempt at a staging yard yielded 4 east-bound and 3 west-bound tracks, each of which could hold a 7 car train with a locomotive and caboose. As I tried operating the layout, though, that just turned out to be inadequeate. I’ve since rebuilt the staging area to bend around the water heater. The new tracks, shown here, include four tracks in each direction, each of which will hold 10 car trains with two locomotives and a caboose.

A note to non-model railroaders: model railroaders often think about a model railroad as similar to a theater stage with the trains in the role of actors. If you look at it that way, staging tracks are like the backstage area of the theater where the actors wait until it’s their turn on stage.


We’ve entered the layout westbound at Louisa . The passenger station was built using a combination of scratchbuilt walls and the door and window castings from Gloorcraft’s Marlinton station kit. The train order signal is from Tomar and the crossing flasher is a kitbash of the Oregon Rail Supply kit.
Here we’re at the west end of Louisa looking east. The freight depot was scratchbuilt; there’s an article on how to build it here. The siding in the right foreground services the vermiculite loading facility. The tower in the background is a Walthers item and is a pretty good match for the actual tank.
For comparison, here’s the Louisa station area in January of 1973, as seen from the rear of Amtrak’s train #98. (LaVerne Brummel photo, used with permission)
This is the vermiculite loading facility in Louisa. It’s a very condensed version of the prototype; there are only 2 tracks instead of three (I had to cut out the passing track) and the far left track is stub-ended instead of double-ended. I’m kitbashing a Rix grain elevator into a representation of the prototype loader.
This is the view across the tracks from the vermiculite facility. The sheds are modeled after a pair of sheds that show up in all of my photos of the area, though they seem to have been moved at least once. The house and garage were built from N scale kits to help create a sense of distance.

Doctors Road

The Doctors Road grade crossing is our next stop. The top photo shows my 1970 model version while the the bottom one shows the prototype as it exists today. In 1970 the road was gravel and there were only crossbucks to guard the crossing. The general store that today stands on the corner did not exist in 1970. This is where I used to watch trains as a kid, so I had to include it on my model.
Here we’ve moved west of the crossing.


This is a view of the Pyrofax siding in Melton from the main. We’re looking west.
Here’s a view of the Pyrofax plant from the road. The building was scratchbuilt. The propane bottles are from Walthers, ModelTech, and Rix. A few were in my parts box and are of unknown origin.
This is a view of the prototype building in the 1990’s when the facility was owned by AmeriGas.
The tank car unloading stand and the truck loading area were scratchbuilt following photos of the prototype. The tanks are from the Walthers Central Gas kit with platforms and detail added to match the prototype. They’re not an exact match, but they’re very close.
Another view of the tanks. I made the Pyrofax decals myself.


This grade crossing is on the outskirts of Gordonsville. I’m trying to work out how to best represent the Exchange hotel. It stands about 90' from the tracks which, I think, puts it about 6" behind the backdrop. I think what I’m going to do is to build a model of the front wall, photograph it, and glue the photo to the backdrop.
This is a view of the freight station area in Gordonsville. The speeder shed is from the Tichy kit. The mockup of the freight station was prepared from measurements of the prototype.
Another view of the freight station area. Here I’ve roughed in Depot Street.
The Gordonsville wye and a mockup of G cabin. I have one of the Alkem Scale Models kits for this structure. The passenger station will stand just this side of G cabin and will be scratchbuilt.
I started construction of the Gordonsville bridge back in 2004. I finished much of the framing at that time, but put the project aside while I learned how to make rivets. The bridge is now essentially complete and in place on the layout. The photos show my model (top) and the prototype (bottom). The bridge, the abutments, and the road are made mostly of styrene and are scratchbuilt. I did use Central Valley bridge ties (but cut them apart and removed the guard timber in order to get the spacing used on the prototype) and streetlights from Walthers. The lettering on the bridge is decals that I made. The signal in the background was built from an Oregon Rails kit. The traffic signs come from two sources. The top sign was bought from an online source ( but the site doesn’t seem to work correctly any more). The bottom sign I scratchbuilt using reflective tape and a custom decal.


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