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Return to the Cumberland Valley: PRR and N&W Southern Division

Pennsylvania Railroad J1a 6443 just passed Middle Creek Station. We can see in the distance the freight station (prototype is the freight station in Middletown, Pa.). The signal bridge was fabricated from two Plasticville bridges spliced together along with new PRR footings and a new walkway. These are working signals from Custom Signals installed by my cousin Philip Patti. The signal for No. 2 track is showing Medium Approach rule No. 283 while Track No. 1 is at stop. The girder bridges are metal Lionel No. 314 but only the ends were used. The smaller ones are HO scale on both sides as per the prototype.

Return to the Cumberland Valley: PRR and N&W Southern Division

2024 O Scale Trains Annualby Joe Ioele/photos by the author

The Pennsylvania Railroad Southern Division started as the Cumberland Valley Branch which ran from Harrisburg, Pa., to Winchester, Va. Shortly after, it joined the Norfolk & Western Shenandoah Valley line which extended to Roanoke, Va. An agreement was made to allow PRR trains to run from Harrisburg through to Roanoke over N&W. A large facility was built at Hagerstown, Md., consisting of an eight-stall roundhouse with 11 outside tracks for both N&W and PRR engines, a large coal dock, and a diesel and electric locomotive facility. A freight yard, coach yard, Railway Express terminal, and an icing facility completed the scene.

Construction of my 28×40 ft. model railroad began in 2005, and was largely completed by 2020. Construction is based on a wood frame grid with 5/8” plywood and a layer of Homasote to support tracks, buildings, and scenery. Railroad towers along the line follow PRR design, while a number of stations and industries are inspired by real-life locations from Winchester to Roanoke.

PRR Southern Division

ABOVE: The Pennsylvania Limited headed up with K4sa 5476 is passing Blue Ridge station on its way to Roanoke, Va. We see passengers waiting on the northbound platform for their daily commute. Blue Ridge platform is a wood type built on curved trackage as I wanted different kinds of platforms to give different appearances on the layout. 

Scenery is a combination of real sifted soil and dirt, ground foam from Woodland Scenics, and foliage from Scenic Express. Trees are a combination of Scenic Express SuperTrees and Woodland Scenics armatures and foliage.

The track and turnouts are mostly Atlas products, with ballast from Woodland Scenics and Scenic Express. The rails are hit with a spray of Rustoleum flat colors for weathering. Main line turnouts are No. 8 wherever possible.

PRR Southern Division

ABOVE: The Evans Farm where Lisa raises thorough-bred horses is behind Del Tower which is at mile post 19/43 as you can see at the bottom of the photo. The farmhouse is a stock MTH structure while I scratchbuilt the barn and all the rest. Lisa is my daughter who loves horses.

The wayside signal system features hardware from Custom Signals (now produced by Atlas) following PRR and N&W prototype. The signals are controlled by toggles along the layout, mimicking operation by a tower operator.

The southern part of my layout was featured in the O Scale Trains Magazine Sept./Oct. 2022 issue, followed by the northern route in the Nov./Dec. issue. We couldn’t cover it all, so I hope you enjoy this selection of photos showcasing some of the unique scratchbuilt and kitbashed structures on my model railroad.

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This article was posted on: April 1, 2024