In planning my original 4×8 layout based on Model Railroaders plan, I of course researched the area I wanted to model. I knew it would be the Appalachians, particularly West Virginia. Having traveled the state made the choice easier, for I had a good idea of not only the scenery, but the industries as well.
In modeling Penn Central and having NYC and PRR locomotives and cabooses, it narrowed the area down even further. I knew from railfanning the West Virginia Secondary in the Conrail era the history of the line somewhat, especially that it was ex-New York Central. It wasn’t until I really got into more research using among other reference sources the great book ” A Sampling of Penn Central “, that I learned even more about this trackage and of the Hitop branch proper.
In reading the section on the area I intended to model, I learned that the Hitop branch had numerous load outs for coal, but two major ones were covered in the book, and that these mines were owned by Union Carbide to supply coal to their plants in the Kanawha Valley.. in previous sections here and posts I’ve outlined why this branch fit the track plan perfectly.
Even today currently I’m still doing research on industries in the valley, what their company names were, what raw materials they received, what finished products came out, and what railroad served them. This of course is due to the layout expansion, where further industries are located. In the final track plan for the expansion, I came up with eight additional industries.
I had graciously been given two kits by a friend, Walther’s ADM elevator kit with their additional add-on silos kit, so I knew this would be incorporated into the layout. In again doing research I discovered there was at least one, and I believe two big grain elevators in Charleston, one being an Early and Daniel operation. Of course I used a bit of modelers license to add this industry to Dickinson yard.
I also wanted to replace the “old” PC freight house that was now going to be my Dickinson yard office with a much larger freight house. Again, in research, I found Walther’s Water Street freight terminal which looks very close to a PC building in Charleston that housed among other departments the train dispatchers for the Secondary. Perfect for what I had in mind. This also is going on the industrial lead in Dickinson yard. Finally, I needed a small kit/building to fit between the elevator complex and the freight terminal, so I came up with Blair Lines fertilizer plant. More on why I picked this in a moment.
Now to tie it all in industry-wise. I already had quite a few grain hoppers collected over several years, and no industry for them. Now I do, the grain elevator. But what to do with these hopper cars after they’re filled? Well, there was a baking company in Charleston named Holsum. So now to find a kit for a commercial bakery for the other side of the layout. Again, I turned to Walther’s and their Magic Pan baking kit. So now hoppers would come onto the layout, be loaded at the elevator, with some being directed to Holsum Baking across the layout.
I already have a fertilizer unloading industry on the original layout, albeit just an industrial silo, and I had some fertilizer hoppers. So what would fill the bill for this industry? A fertilizer plant! I knew Blair Line made a fertilizer plant, so I checked the dimensions, and found this would fit on the expansion. So now I’ll have a spot for hoppers to be loaded with fertilizer, then taken over to the unload facility.
I had also collected quite a few gondolas filled with scrap loads, but nowhere for these to go. Now I also have two interconnected industries. On the left hand side of the expansion I had room for a scrapyard. The gondolas would be filled with scrap here, then directed over across the layout to a kit to be used for Union Carbide’s Electro-Met plant, which among other raw materials, took in scrap metal.
One other car I have quite a few of are refrigerator cars, but had nowhere for them. Now I have the larger freight terminal for some, and a wholesale grocery distributor (Davis Wholesale) for these to be switched.
So, you can see, with good planning and good research, you can find the industries that not only fit the area and region you’re modeling, but ones that also can be interconnected to add more switching and operational opportunities as well….