C&O Alleghany for Railworks

(track chart - work in progress....)

Alleghany Track Chart


About the C&O Alleghany Division

=== The Chesapeake & Ohio Railway Company was first chartered as the Covington and Ohio Railroad by the state of Virginia in 1853. It was commissioned to construct an East-West route over the Appalachian Mountains connecting "The Headwaters of the James" at present-day Clifton Forge, Virginia to "The Head of the Kanawha", near what is now West Virginia's capital city of Charleston. This initial road for the C&O Company's rails became the Alleghany and New River Valley divisions. After years of proposals and surveys for the 85 mile Alleghany division, the chosen route followed winding streams through narrow mountain gaps, a dozen hand-dug tunnels up to a mile long, and over countless fills, culverts and bridges. ===

=== Constructon was slow through the ancient broken granite, shale, and limestone mountains and the Civil War eventually halted construction progress completely. After the war, financial woes kept the project struggling until in 1870 the Virginia Central Railroad and the Covington and Ohio Railroad companies were combined into the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway Company. Construction difficulties abounded, such as at Jerry's Run, Virginia, where for 2 years workers moved an estimated 20 million cubic yards of earth using shovels and horse-drawn carts to fill a gorge. Nearby, the 3/4 mile Alleghany tunnel project stymied and bankrupted several contractors over its 14 years of constuction. Finally, 20 years, a war, and a new state later, this final leg of "The Great Connection" was completed in 1873 providing a fast, direct route from Richmond, VA to Cinncinati, OH and all points west. ===

=== The C&O quickly became a busy transcontinental railway, clogging double and triple track roads east and west out of WV with billions of tons of coal to fuel the furnaces of the northern steel mills, heat the ever-expanding east coast cities, and to generate electricity for the booming industrialization of the nation. Equally as prominent on the Alleghany rails in the early 20th century was billions of board feet of timber products and train loads of grain from the west headed for east coast shipping ports. The C&O also built a reputable passenger operation from New York City and Washington, DC west to Cincinnati, St. Louis, and Chicago on famous passenger trains such as the "FFV" (Fast-Flying-Virginian), the "Cincinnati" and the "George Washington". Since 1971, passenger service along the route has continued aboard the Amtrak "Cardinal" line. ===

=== In the mid-1960's the C&O, B&O and Western Maryland railroads began merging all their operations into the well remembered Chessie System. The companies had each already acquired and consolidated other smaller railroads and Chessie System continued the tradition of successful growth and acquisition evolving into the CSX Corporation twenty years later. CSX has since absorbed 1/2 of the former Conrail (PRR) system and now serves 23 states and Canada through its 21,000 mile rail network, 70 ports and water-transit routes. ===


=== The C&O Alleghany route for Railworks2 closely represents the appearances and usages of the original Alleghany Division during the Chessie System transition period. This mostly double-track line routinely experiences daily incidents causing traffic delays in the movement of 100-200 car loaded coal drags on the long eastbound grade. Westbound traffic is mostly empty coal hoppers today, though in its history the route brought U.S. presidents, European royalty and other wealthy patrons to the "air-conditioned" mountains. Special charters ran from Washington, DC and New York City to the C&O owned Greenbrier Hotel in White Sulphur Springs, WV, and The Homestead Hotel in Hot Springs, VA. for basking in luxury and bathing in the "healing" mountain spring waters. ===

=== The Alleghany Division has always tested the biggest power available like the heavyweight 4-10-2 Greenbrier steam locomotive and the articulated 2-6-6-6 7500 horsepower Allegheny. These 400 ton beasts were routinely run in tandem/distributed/pusher arrangements to haul out coal drags of 200 hoppers. During the C&O to Chessie transition years, 5-7 unit heads and 2-3 unit pushers of early GP and SD class power were in favor. Today, CSX heads a constant flow of 250,000 pound "lightweight" aluminum coal hoppers in consists of 100-140 cars with 4,000 - 6,000 HP head units and a shop-modified ES4400AH series pusher that is assigned at Ronceverte. ===

=== Typical freight operations of the Chessie era range from coal drags to big mixed-freights, and 24/7 yard work to weaving in and out of the traffic with various "Locals" making their many pickups and deliveries along the route every day. The Ronceverte yards provide considerable timber industry interchange action between the mainline and the Greenbrier Subdivision. Everybody clears the way for the daily passenger trains and two large limestone quarries create traffic providing ballast for the C&O and lime for the nearby paper mill and iron forges. The chemical plants in the Kanawha Valley send through 40-50 car trains of tankers and daily a couple of 60-80 car grain trains fill any remaining track space. ===

=== You won't get to "sleep like a kitten", but please enjoy your drive on the C&O Railroad! ===

Other info

=== Every effort is being made to keep payware requirements for the C&O Alleghany to a minimum. However, West Virginia is one giant timber farm and Railworks does not include lumber industry assets along with many other things, not the least of which are the C&O/Chessie/CSX locomotives and railcars. When complete, the entire route will be around 85 miles, mostly double-track with 4 short ST sections with 3 small cities and small communities every few miles.  There are several spurs and stubs with the eastern end being the most industrialized.  The Alleghany Division's main objective is to deliver freight consists to the Clifton Forge yard, where consists are resorted and sent onward either northeast over North Mountain to Staunton or southeast along the James River to Lynchburg. ===

=== The 85 mile route passes through 11 tunnels and makes 7 river crossings plus passing over innumerable small streams and large fills.  The freight speed limit is 40 mph maximum and is reduced to 35 on the eastbound downgrade run from Alleghany to Clifton Forge. For passenger trains the limit is 50 mph but there are curves where slowing to 25 is necessary to ensure riders' comfort.  To make Railworks scenario creation easier, the simplified (compared to real-life) traffic control will be an Absolute Block system on the mainlines (there are a couple of Permissives) and "line-of-sight" freeroaming in the yards.

There's plenty of action on the C&O.  East to west (as will be listed on my Localities page) the major stopping points are:
=== Clifton Forge - main yard and C&O mainline split going east

=== Covington - lots of industrial including the huge WestVaco paper mill with private internal tracks running through and around the plant

=== Alleghany - peak of the mountain train operations like disconnecting pushers, a visual train inspection, and brake adjusting and turntable action in the steam era

=== White Sulphur Springs - significant passenger destination at The Greenbrier Hotel; an interesting short town/industrial spur

=== Ronceverte - interchange (intra?) for the C&O Greenbrier branch; sawmill (large), beverage bottlers, ice & produce, bulk farm supplies like feed, fertilizer, lime; and a full-time yard engine traveling as far as WSS and Frazier to shift, load and unload rock, coal, and small goods

=== Frazier/Snowflake - big industry: 2 huge quarries shipping limestone ballast, gravel, and lime; 2 yards and lots of open and closed hoppers

=== Alderson/Pence Springs/Talcott - passenger stops; light industrial sidings; the rich soils of the lower Greenbrier River Valley generated significant food and livestock shipments from the many family farms here prior to 1955

=== Hinton - the C&O's collection point for a dozen or so coal branches located along the New River Valley subdivision; besides the service shops in the west Hinton yards for the many locomotives needed here, the eastbound 100+ car consists are assembled in the east yards; thousands of westbound arriving empties are assigned and distributed back to the mines for reloading
There are also several industrial sidings along the way requiring regular drops and pickups of boxcars, tank cars and hoppers.  There is also the occasional "special shipments" like oversized transformers for the nearby Back Creek hydro-electric generation dam.  During the 1950's and '60's, thousands of tons of components for the Greenbank Radio Observatory telescopes were unloaded onto trucks here.  For several years In the late '60's, hundreds of flatcar loads of pre-built grids of rebar were distributed along the route for concrete reinforcement in the construction of Interstate 64.
Traffic on the route is/was:
=== coal drags headed to the ports at Newport News, VA

=== lime, chemicals, coal, pulpwood, and wood chips to the paper mill in Covington, VA

=== lumber products from the large mill in Ronceverte

=== boxcars and single-stack container shipments from the paper mill and several associated factories (note that double container stacks will not pass through the tunnels on this route).

=== chemicals from the Dupont and Union Carbide plants in Charleston, WV on a per car or 45-60 car whole train basis

=== several weekly grain trains of 60-80 hoppers; this traffic quadrupled after the hurricane Katrina disaster closed the ports in New Orleans for months; some days there were more grain trains than coal drags

=== Amtrak (The Cardinal) changed schedules a few times since implemented in 1972, but averages one train one way each day between NY City and Chicago with sleepers and double-deck observation cars

=== ballast, gravel & lime - usually 15-40 cars; from the quarries at Frazier and Snowflake in Ft. Springs, WV; first opened when the railway was being built in the 1800's, the hard "snowflake" limestone found here was used for ballast throughout the C&O railway

=== mixed freight manifests - 40-80 cars; are always in a hurry; hauling a little bit of everything, not a whole lot of anything

=== Locals (freight) - Until the mid 1960's, locals traveled each way each weekday dropping/picking up small goods shipments and small freight consists

=== Passenger service - during the first half of the 20th century there was extensive passenger service here; perhaps 6 or more locals each day, plus 3-5 nationals running from New York City, and Washington DC, to Cinncinati and Chicago

=== Private tracks - driving around/in/under/through the chemical plant that is today's paper mill is a real challenge; the tight spaces make for some tricky delivery maneuvers; WestVaco has spawned numerous factories in the area, so the action around Covington is still busy today

=== Pusher locomotive - The pusher in Ronceverte departs a parking siding here onto track 3, reverses west 2-3 miles, gets signaled onto the mainline entering the block behind the stopped and waiting coal drag, then is "passed" eastbound into the occupied block to couple onto the rear of the train.  Today, at the top of Alleghany Mountain, the pusher cuts off in motion just before reaching the tunnel.  In the days of steam, every eastbound stopped at Alleghany to drop extra/pusher power and to set brakes for the 1.3% downgrade on the east side of the mountain.